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The route to a better night’s sleep for building surveyors and their clients lies in a thorough Rein

The Reinstatement Cost Assessment (RCA) is not an ‘off the top of your head’ job.

As a Building Surveyor, I am getting increasingly frustrated with certain client behaviour. It is this: we do a Building Survey Report on the building the client is about to buy and they lift the phone to us the week after closing looking for an over-the-phone reinstatement cost assessment figure, which they expect us to have at the tip of our tongues – “I have the insurance broker on the other line,” they plead.

Clients take note: doing an RCA is not as simple as multiplying floor area by an appropriate rate. Building Surveyors, stick to your guns on charging a realistic fee. Here’s why…

Inspection: The surveyor must carry out a general inspection of the property; a desk-top study alone will not cut it and you cannot rely on a description given by the client over the phone. The age of the building is important and whether it is a protected structure – this can add 20% to the rebuilding costs.

Demolition: The surveyor must consider whether there are any restrictions to demolition and rebuilding resulting from surrounding buildings. Is the building detached, semi-detached or terraced? In other words, do party walls, temporary protection, insurers, etc. need to be considered? Proximity to public transport infrastructure must be taken into account; is it, for example, along a Luas line with cables supported off the wall? Will traffic impede access to the site during re-construction works? Is there likely to be any asbestos present, which will increase the cost of demolition and debris removal due to higher disposal costs.

Information gathering: Surveyors must take a prodigious amount of notes, photographs and measurements and produce sketches to record the layout of the building with measurements sufficient to calculate to IPMS 2 (GIA) for each different type of building within the curtilage of the site under review. They must include in their notes a summary of the building’s structure and the different types of construction, eaves, ceiling heights and finishes. They must consider the building’s M&E services and if there is higher-than-normal lift provision. They must not forget to assess perimeter boundaries and outbuildings; stone perimeter boundaries or outbuildings for example can be expensive to reinstate and should be included in the RCA. Within the building, high-cost finishes such as marble, or rare or valuable elements such as Harry Clarke stained glass, for example, need to be considered.

So, Building Surveyors, now do you feel confident doing it from the desk? Building inspecting and the collection of information are crucial in arriving at an accurate RCA, and these take time and skill. Get your fee right and sleep tight!!

And clients, what’s the point in an RCA if it turns out to be hopelessly underestimated? You’d also sleep better at night knowing your new property is adequately insured.