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Due Diligence – Meeting the Challenges of Time and Safe Solutions

posted 09.26.2019

Property Condition Assessments (PCAs) are due diligence activities associated with purchasing, leasing, financing, or maintaining commercial real estate. These assessments are critical for clients seeking to know the condition of a property. The goal of a PCA is to quickly identify and communicate physical building conditions and costs for the due diligence process.

In recent years, the typical time needed to perform a PCA has been shrinking – from an average of 15 business days a few years ago to around ten days now. The faster turnarounds desired for the PCA process can make it challenging to safely deliver a thorough assessment. PCA practitioners face a myriad of conditions from access to roofs and unlit buildings; to floors and walls covered with unknown microbial growth; and buildings with unfinished floor slabs on upper floors. Teams must be flexible and willing to make the adjustments in approach and performance required to deliver results quickly and safely.

Adjusting to Unique Site Conditions

One such example of resourcefulness and commitment involved a PCA project on fifteen industrial facilities in the southern U.S. The facilities consisted of metal-framed structures with corrugated metal roofs and corrugated fiberglass skylights for warehousing and distribution of steel piping to the oil and gas industry. The scope of work included the assessment of the interior, exterior, and surrounding areas of the buildings to identify any deficiencies that could affect the expected useful life of the buildings. The scope also included development of a maintenance program the client could use to repair or replace those items identified as immediate repairs, aon a twelve-year reserve period.

As part of Terracon’s Incident and Injury Free (IIF)® program, during the pre-task meeting discussions, the client’s safety coordinator informed Terracon that there were many potential hazards at the site including storage yards with heavy machinery moving steel piping, and fork lifts and cranes in constant motion inside the buildings. In addition, unprotected skylights made the roofs inaccessible to personnel for safety reasons. Discussions promptly focused on adjustments to accommodate the site conditions and access limitations, resulting in the determination that the best option was the use of drones.

Using Drones to Ensure Safety

Using drone video and photography, the site and roofs were viewed by our PCA and roofing specialists without the need to roam the site or set foot on the potentially unsafe roofs. The project was successfully completed on a time-efficient, safe, and cost-effective manner. The reports were delivered on time and provided the client with feedback of deficiencies identified during the field assessment. The recommendations also included installation of OSHA-approved fall protection devices on the skylights. The client was able to move forward with the transaction process.

Each PCA is unique and must be approached based on the specific conditions of the building and the site. This client shared their appreciation of Terracon for our quick response to their needs, the proactive communication between the client and the PCA team, and the problem-solving resourcefulness. We are proud to help clients of all by types, with the experience and  initiative to deliver required information to complete the process while minimizing impact to the building and personnel.


Ricardo Segovia, ICCCE,  is  a senior project professional in Terracon’s Houston Facilities office with more than 20 years’ experience providing PCA services and helping clients with due diligence in the U.S. and Mexico. He specializes in multi-family apartment buildings, industrial facilities, hotels, office/warehouses, golf courses, shopping mall, shopping center, schools, and high-rise and low-rise office buildings.