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is it robust for the purpose you now require it. Consideration should be given to what is good and bad about any existing system and what would be your ideal in terms of information. can it be updated or validated? Do you need a completely new survey? It is important to identify the gaps in your current information. The primary purpose of the stock condition survey is as follows: To identify the minimum level of expenditure required to bring all properties up to the decent homes standard by 2010 (including the Housing Health and Safety Rating System) and then to maintain them at that standard for the duration of the business plan. It is critical that you prepare your in house team by involving them in the process from the outset. asset management plan and capital strategy. go beyond decency. expenditure will increase in the future. in some cases. Investment in the stock is the single largest area of expenditure in any business plan and hence accurate information is crucial. a potential survey from existing in house data so that it can be validated at the time of the survey. how recently was it done. You need to consider if you could populate. inevitably. The identification of expenditure required to meet the aspirational requirements of the tenants and/or expenditure required to ensure sustainability in the assets/properties. or partly populate. Do you have staff with detailed knowledge of the stock? Do you have an existing survey. The assessment of investment requirements must be over the period of the whole business plan rather than simply a short term view. Their role in considering the logistics of the data collection and data maintenance will be invaluable. This needs to be reflected in the business plan. You also need to think about how you are going to keep any information up to date and how you could include this requirement in any contracts.2 Stock Condition Surveys Purpose of the Stock Condition Survey Obtaining accurate and robust stock condition/investment information on the stock is an essential part of an options appraisal. The identification of expenditure required to meet the obligations of the Council which may. All Local Authority properties are ageing and. Before you start on a survey of the stock it is important to consider what information you already have in house. .
An independent survey will have to be commissioned or in-house survey validated to a standard acceptable to funders. Consideration may need to be given to the employment of a specialist to assist in the management of the process where necessary. it is essential that the in-house information is validated or to a standard capable of being validated should the need arise. Undertaking these surveys is a specialist area and Local Authorities considering embarking on the surveys themselves need to be sure that they have the expertise in-house. At the least. it is crucial that robust decency information is made available. etc.3 Who should undertake the survey? There are two options open to the Council. the information coming from an independent consultant will be helpful. When considering the options careful consideration should be given to price against quality. It is essential that the Local Authority has robust investment information and flexibility is built into the option appraisal process to enable the Local Authority to proceed along any of the alternative options. Local authorities should have regard to the ODPM Building Costs Model for more information on what is required. It should therefore be borne in mind that if an in-house survey is undertaken and a decision is made to proceed along the stock transfer route. an in-house unvalidated stock survey will not be acceptable for the purposes of the funders/new RSL’s. It will also help authorities be aware of what is involved in making applications for each of the different options. In the event of a decision to proceed along the ALMO route. The issues to be considered with these alternative approaches are as follows: In-House Survey There is no reason why a survey should not be undertaken in-house but all Local Authorities need to be fully aware of the following issues: There are significant resources required to undertake a stock condition survey and this should not be under estimated. namely undertaking the survey in-house or employing one of the specialist firms of surveyors who undertake this type of work. . It may be therefore worthwhile considering the relative costs of validating existing information vis-a-vis commissioning an independent survey at an early stage. This information will be scrutinised in great detail if an ALMO bid is made. a further survey may need to be undertaken in the future. what the LSVT valuation is likely to be. With the above in mind it might be useful to run figures through both the BCM and STM to test how well existing data can be used. In these circumstances. how the BCM will steer the authority into considering other resources. The ODPM Cost Generation Model for LSVT will give further information on the level and format required for an LSVT application. the lowest price option may not necessarily be the best value for money in the long term. In the event that a Local Authority decides to proceed along the LSVT route. This may assist in showing up how authorities should deal with each archetype for each option.
It is therefore absolutely essential that the firm engaged to undertake the work has the necessary knowledge and credentials. Many Local Authorities have been disappointed with some of the stock condition surveys that have been undertaken. However. an assessment of decency is crucial. All Local Authorities must ensure that the data from the survey. . A named in-house team or individual should be tasked with ensuring that staff receive training.4 If the authority decides to pursue a PFI scheme ODPM does not necessarily expect a completed survey for the area/estate covered by the proposed scheme. The survey is only part of the process. databases and trained staff is essential for the ongoing provision of reliable data. etc. was it to inform an option appraisal or specific to an LSVT proposal? Care needs to be taken to ensure that the correct legal appointment is made and that the surveying firm is committed to providing any necessary warranties to meet the various options that may be considered. It is important that you are comparing like for like on referencing. Indeed. where a decision is made to outsource this work great care should be taken in the engagement of external consultants and the following should be borne in mind. they will have developed the expertise to undertake the work and they will be able to provide an independent view on the condition of the stock. Development of internal reliable processes. In addition. when it is provided. authorities are expected to outline the main works that they anticipate would need to be carried out based on their best available information. will be on a database that can be used to analyse the survey results and produce the outputs required. Employment of Specialist Consultants The employment of specialist consultants to undertake the stock condition survey has obvious advantages. They are likely to be able to undertake the survey far quicker since they will have resources dedicated to the task. If the decision is taken to appoint consultants it is essential that the local authority retains ownership and management of the project. Ideally the database should be compatible with the local authority’s existing one. systems are compatible. If the Local Authority decides to retain its housing stock there will still be a need to have information in a format that can be updated for Business Planning purposes. It is therefore essential that authorities present as robust a picture as possible about the condition of their stock. Taking up references with other Local Authorities is a crucial part of the procurement process. they will be able to provide all the necessary warranties in the event that either an ALMO or a stock transfer is chosen as the preferred option. For example. ODPM will expect a survey to be jointly commissioned with short listed bidders to inform contract negotiation. In particular. what kind of survey was it. However. should the authority be successful in moving to a PFI procurement. albeit an important part.
the properties can be made decent in a retention scenario and. Most importantly. a specialist can be employed to assist with the survey design/set up stages. Where an option for extra investment is not chosen a higher sample survey is likely to be required. together with accurate forecasting of when critical components are likely to fail after 2010. . up until now. In the event that a decision is made to undertake an in-house survey and the necessary skills are not available in house. what other works could be completed in addition to decency. etc. The main lesson learnt from surveys that have been unsuccessful is that far too much detail has been collected and very often much of this information is never used or updated. generally involved smaller pockets of properties/estates and it is important that the survey can produce the outputs that are accurate down to this level. Information on the age of components as well as the state of repair will be important so that potentially non-decent homes can be identified as well as currently non-decent homes. Hence it is important that information can be disaggregated. secondly. and particular reference should be made to 'Collecting. The likely effect of changes in the management and maintenance allowances should be considered especially where these may reduce in real terms. This information needs to be detailed and the survey must be able to produce the necessary outputs to inform such a bid (refer to ODPM Building Costs Model for more details). Focusing on the material cost items in order to modernise the properties and to make them decent is the key to the success of the exercise. The Sampling Process It is important to ensure that the results of the survey can be analysed to produce all the outputs required. Whilst this information would not be available at the beginning of an option appraisal process. many Local Authorities may be financially constrained and the ability to prioritise works where it is most needed will be particularly important. firstly. There is very specific information required in the event of a PFI. A stock transfer is likely to involve an investment programme that goes beyond both the Council’s current obligations and also decency.5 The Survey Design Much has been written on how stock condition surveys should be designed. August 2000). Much of this information revolves around the need to bring the properties up to the output specification standard. it is important to fully understand the implications on the investment programme. the production of very robust information on decency is crucial since this information would form the whole basis of an ALMO bid. This again will necessitate a higher sample. The following are some of the issues that need to be considered: In the event that the stock is to be retained. managing and using housing stock information' (DETR. PFI projects have. it is important that the survey design clearly recognises the standards to be adopted for component replacements. In addition. The survey must clearly report that. both in the short and long term. a transfer is likely to attempt to address the aspirations of the tenants and these need to be understood and clearly costed within the survey. In the case of an ALMO. In a retention scenario. It is essential that at the option appraisal stage sufficient information is collected to allow authorities to properly assess the suitability of each option or indeed a mix of options.
The most problematic types of non-traditional properties are the PRC (Pre Fabricated Reinforced Concrete Properties) which are designated defective and are unlikely to have a long term life without significant structural works undertaken. Many of the issues raised in the nontraditional properties section will also be relevant to high rise properties. As with the non-traditional properties. It is important to note that often these works do not address decent homes issues. If good information is not available already. the type of properties and the variation within them. do not relate to the decent homes criteria. a minimum 10% sample will be required and often. These programmes need to be costed and this costing is generally undertaken by means of applying a schedule of rates. The sample size for this piece of work will be dependent on how many types you have and what the issues are. Again. There are a whole host of different types of these properties and the issues associated with them vary accordingly. Non-Traditional Properties Many Local Authorities will have within their stock properties constructed using non-traditional methods. Building Costs The stock condition survey will identify programmes of work required to meet the various standards set out by the Local Authorities. In the event that this information is not already available within the Local Authority. these blocks are potentially significant liabilities in the long term in terms of repair work to the structure and also replacement of the central electrical and mechanical plant. It may need to be higher than the sample size for the traditional stock. we would suggest that in general.6 It is inappropriate in this guidance note to state what sample should be required because clearly this will vary depending on the size of stock. High Rise Properties Some Local Authorities will have properties of high rise construction. It is important to note that if an ALMO is considered several expensive components. It is important that the short and long term liability of these properties are fully understood and costed within the business plan/option appraisal. a sample of nearer 20% / 25% will be appropriate. Often this work can be carried out as a supplementary part of the stock condition survey. Benchmarking in your area can also be useful. Usually Local Authorities have detailed records of works they have undertaken to non traditional properties in the recent past. It may be appropriate to seek specialist advice in this area because the levels of costs adopted can have a significant impact on the option appraisal process. for example lifts. . consideration should be given to commissioning surveys so that the liability of these blocks is fully understood. consideration should be given to the engagement of specialist engineers to assess the condition and long term life. It is important that the unit rates adopted reflect the local market and what can be achieved by adopting the Egan principles of partnering and the contemporary procurement methodologies. the opportune time to undertake this work is as part of the stock condition survey process. However.
It is essential that all necessary work is reflected within the business plan and the opportunity should be taken as part of the stock condition survey exercise to identify the need for this work e. but cannot be re-charged will have to be met from other sources. and in the case of an LSVT. off-road car parking etc. . so that all S125 notices in response to RTB applications may reflect costs of future works. ALMO funds are exclusively for tenanted units. scope for recovery will be limited. Whilst this “environmental” work may not contribute to “decency” it may be essential in the context of “sustainability”. The General Environment In some cases work required to the general environment surrounding the properties is as important as the work to the properties themselves. then this information should be given to the Right to Buy team. Once estimates of future works are available as part of the SCS. Without this information. Costs of work that must be undertaken to the block. improved fencing. and existing leases checked to establish how much of this work can be re-charged to the leaseholders. additional external lighting for security.g.7 Costs Relating to Leaseholder Units and the Scope for Re-charging As more Options Appraisals are now needed on stock that has a higher proportion of leasehold in flatted blocks. it is essential that those costs attributable to the leasehold units are easily identifiable. costs that cannot be recovered will affect the valuation.
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