By Aaron Kovan, Partner Engineering & Science, Inc. By Aaron Kovan, Partner Engineering & Science, Inc.

ASTM recently published ASTM E2018-15, the update to the standard guide for Property Condition Assessments (PCA). Revisions involved the simplification and reorganization of existing guidance, new definitions, and the elimination of the recommended table of contents.  The standard’s ADA checklist was also updated to reflect changes published in 2010, and a screening checklist for the preliminary evaluation of compliance with Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirements was introduced. Additionally, the previous version of E2018 (ASTM E 2018-08) included out-of-scope considerations noted in various sections; these have now been consolidated into Section 11.

The Most Important Changes

A number of definitions were clarified, simplified, or added in Section 2.3 of the Standard in an effort to more clearly outline the purpose and scope of a PCA. A significant addition to the revised Standard includes definitions for the terms “good”, “fair” and “poor” based on the need for immediate or short-term repairs. Items in good condition do not require immediate or short-term repair; items in fair condition are in working order, but may require repairs soon; and items in poor condition are not working or require immediate or short-term repairs. Unless otherwise agreed upon, repair items with an associated opinion of cost that falls below the de minimis reporting threshold of $3,000 are not included in the associated cost tables.

Another substantive change is that the standard no longer calls for the identification of the type and provider of the material utilities (water, electricity, natural gas, etc.) present at the subject property since the information is not central to the overall condition of the property and is often included in other due diligence reports.

The standard also now states that most reports include long-term costs and the many different methods are used to determine such costs.  ASTM does not further define long-term costs or discuss methods to be used in the determination of the needs of the subject property beyond the short-term.

Elimination of the Tiered Approach to Accessibility

Historically, the PCA standard has employed a tiered approach to the evaluation of American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, with Tier I being the most basic review of the subject property and Tier III being the most extensive. In the 2015 revision, the tiered approach was replaced with a baseline evaluation reflecting the industry practice – the completion of a checklist updated to reflect ADA changes implemented in 2010, but excluding measurements or counts. Though the tiered approach to ADA evaluation has been eliminated, the standard continues to acknowledge that clients may desire different levels of due diligence, depending on their needs.  As with other elements of the scope of work, users should discuss the work to be performed to decide whether additional assessment might be warranted and included in the agreement of services.

FHA Compliance

A similar approach has been added to the standard to facilitate the evaluation of conformance with Fair Housing accessibility requirements. The standard includes a checklist for use as a screening tool to evaluate improvements for compliance with FHA requirements. The checklist is limited to evaluation of the physical improvements, without consideration of who may be responsible for modifications or operational issues such as discrimination in the rental process or failure to offer reasonable accommodation. As with the ADA checklist, this approach does not guaranty compliance, but provides a reasonable screening tool.

Overall, the changes are intended and expected to enable more accurate identification of risks associated with building conditions.  Effective immediately, all Property Condition Assessments should be conducted and the resulting reports written in compliance with the revised standard; ASTM E2018–15 Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments: Baseline Property Condition Assessment.  Several of Partner’s Building Sciences experts were part of the ASTM committee advising on the changes, so please reach out with any questions!

About Aaron Kovan, LEEP AP

Aaron Kovan, LEEP AP, is the Technical Director of Agency Services at Partner Engineering and Science based in Minnesota. Mr. Kovan is trained as an architect and has more than 15 years of experience in the engineering, environmental, construction and development fields.