Using existing building stock is a compelling property strategy often enough that specialists in redevelopment and repurpose of buildings have arisen. Bill Robsons (Gabriel Consultants) and Steven Arthur (ECS Mid-Atlantic) are two leading consultants in the generation of due diligence on redeveloping and repurposing buildings.
In a fascinating NAR Conference & Expo session covering the history and application of principles in zoning, construction techniques, remediation techniques and economic development principles, Bill and Steven outlined the concepts of due diligence — the investigation of a business or a person or property prior to signing a contract with a certain standard of care.
Is A Property Condition Assessment Due Diligence?
As defined by ASTM (American Society For Testing And Materials) a Property Condition Assessment (PCA) is not the same as due diligence. DD is about maintenance and performance of a building. A PCA can be part of due diligence, but DD is broader.
The “when” is just as important as the “what” – the time to have a due diligence report in hand is before a buyer/broker agreement is signed.
Bringing Science Into The Mix
The area called “building science” is concerned with separating the interior, controlled environment from the exterior, uncontrolled environment. Modern construction technologies are completely different from those of a hundred years ago. As such, a non-specialist doing analysis of a structure that went up before the era of steel construction, or even in its early stages, can overlook too much to give a reliable assessment of the building’s performance. That’s why specialists use modern tools to survey properties and find problems in due diligence projects. Steven Arthur showed a wide range of slides with pictures using infra-red photography to isolate moisture, air movement and cracks in walls not easily visible to the naked eye. Other building science tools include ground radars and spectrographic analysis of masonry samples – the field can get downright CSI-like when it wants to.
And it wants to: structural problems in structures can too easily be hidden from the visual once-over even if the property is just a couple of decades old. When it was built a hundred years ago, due diligence and building science are inextricably intertwined.
The entire presentation on Due Diligence in Redeveloping And Repurposing Buildings can be downloaded from Playback NAR