BUILT ENVIRONMENT JOURNAL

RICS due diligence guidance updated

The aim is to provide a document that better reflects the breadth and depth of the technical due diligence process

Author: David Mann

01 September 2019

RICS is soon to publish the Technical due diligence of commercial property fifth edition global guidance note, replacing four previous editions that cover England and Wales as well as country-specific versions in New Zealand, Australia and throughout continental Europe.

The document will define technical due diligence as being 'the process of systematic review, analysis, discovery and gathering of information about the physical characteristics of a property and/or land (the property)'.

'The surveyor then undertakes an impartial and professional assessment of the property and provides a balanced and professional opinion of the technical condition of it[,] enabling a prospective purchaser, occupier or financier of property to make an informed assessment of the risks associated with this transaction.'

Some of the more prescriptive language on how to conduct a survey – or what to look for in a typical building element, for instance – is being removed, as it was felt this would be understood by surveyors through their experience.

The guidance note will also state that the technical due diligence process must be methodical, assessing each key building element and answering the following.

  • What, if anything is wrong?
  • What would the consequences be if the defect were not rectified?
  • What remediation is recommended?
  • Who is responsible for the cost of repair?
  • What further investigations are recommended, and when?

In addition, the note has been updated to reflect modern practice, including the use of virtual data rooms, data collection software and drones.

Scope of service

The previously published Oceania and European guidance notes covered some services that are not the norm for technical due diligence in the UK, including producing capital expenditure budgets or commenting on capital allowances.

To reflect these differences, a standard technical due diligence scope of service is being added to the appendix to make it easier to confirm instructions, with tickboxes including specialist inspections and subconsultants to be appointed.

The document aims to set out what a building surveyor must consider during the briefing or confirmation of instructions phase. It will more clearly reflect that we often act as the lead consultant for the technical due diligence process, bringing together other specialist advisers such as mechanical, electrical and vertical transportation engineers, cladding consultants or environmental engineers.

The intention is to provide a more useful document than previous editions that better reflects the breadth and depth of the technical due diligence process, over and above what used to be a building survey.

Andrew Marsden at insurance broker Willis Towers Watson told the guidance note working group that 'many of the mostcommon claims against surveyors could have been avoided if the surveyor followed RICS guidance notes, confirmed their instructions and any limitations in full to their client at the time of instruction, and added further clarification within a report,such as inaccessible areas not surveyed, which are only determinable post-survey.'

References to fire safety and health and safety are being reinforced following two tragic events in the UK in 2017: the Grenfell Tower fire, and the death of a woman in Wolverhampton hit by debris from a roof during a storm.

This includes introducing a category of defects that need 'immediate' action,where a surveyor must point out anything potentially foreseeable as of imminent danger, such as loose masonry, to an 'appropriate person', most likely the building manager, or the vendor or theiragent. Guidance on using red, amber and green risk ratings is also included, to help a time-poor client focus on the issues, either during purchase or after this is completed.

David Mann is a partner at Tuffin Ferraby Taylor and co-author of RICS' Technical due diligence of commercial property fifth edition global guidance note dmann@tftconsultants.com

Related competencies include: Client care, Inspection

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