Photographic Schedule of Condition – FAQ

At Harrison Clarke we can offer to prepare Photographic Schedule of Condition, either for a new commercial tenant about to commit to leasing a commercial property or for residential clients seeking to protect themselves or their neighbours prior to commencing construction works. To provide you with a better understanding of Photographic Schedule of Condition, we have collated some frequently asked questions.

What is a Photographic Schedule of Condition?

A Photographic Schedule of Condition is a document made up of two parts; a description of the building elements and their condition and supporting photographs which back up the text description.

Do you offer Photographic only schedules of condition?

Harrison Clarke does not offer schedules comprising of only photographs. The main reason is that as a firm, we want to ensure you are comprehensively protected.

It can become difficult to interpret photos with no real context behind them, particularly if the surveyor using the schedule was not there during the initial inspection. Furthermore, we often find that only paper copies of schedules are only available which have been photocopied time and time again, reducing the quality of the photos – sometimes we just receive pages of black rectangles where photos used to be!

We highly recommend that you ask your surveyor to provide detailed text descriptions alongside photos to ensure you are fully protected.

How long does a Photographic Schedule of Condition take to prepare?

How long a Schedule of Condition takes to prepare is largely based on the size of the building,. Depending on the size of the property, an inspection could take as little as an hour, or as long as a few days.

On average, a schedule of condition on a commercial building takes roughly three hours on site. When carrying out a schedule of condition on a residential building in relation to Party Wall matters, this can take an average of one to two hours.

At Harrison Clarke, we aim to send you your report within 5 working days but we can often do so quicker.

Why would I need a Photographic Schedule of Condition for a Commercial Lease?

New tenants taking on a commercial lease could be liable at lease end for damage, known as ‘dilapidations’, that occured prior to moving in. By appending a Photographic Schedule of Condition to the lease, unexpected and costly claims for damages can be avoided.

Modern leases can require an incoming tenant to repair damaged parts of a property, even if the damage existed at lease commencement and will not affect the tenant’s occupation. Often tenants do not realise this or budget for repairs, which results in an often-unexpected claim for damages from the landlord to the tenant. This is known as a claim for dilapidations, and dilapidations claims can often amount to tens, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Preparing a Photographic Schedule of Condition can be useful to record the condition of a property. This must be appended to and referenced within the lease. This restricts the tenant’s liability to improve the condition of the property and can mitigate a large part of an otherwise-potential dilapidations claim.

Why would I need a Photographic Schedule of Condition if I am planning construction works at my property?

Construction works come with risks and it is important that you mitigate the risk of damage. One method is to document the condition of neighbouring properties prior to commencing your works.

If during Party Wall procedures you need a full Party Wall Award, a Photographic Schedule of Condition will be included in this.  If your neighbours consented to your Party Wall Notice, or your works are not notifiable under the Party Wall Act, you can still instruct a surveyor to carry out a schedule of condition. The benefit of doing so is that your neighbour will have evidence of the condition of their property before works commenced should damage occur, but you will also have evidence to protect yourself from any spurious claims for damage.

Sometimes spurious claims are not brought deliberately, but we find that adjoining owners often notice ‘new’ defects to their property, simply because they are actively looking for damage after they feel their building vibrate. Upon checking photographic schedules of condition, sometimes we find that these ‘new’ defects are old ones which, while having been recorded by the surveyor, were previously unnoticed by the adjoining owner.

Next Steps

At Harrison Clarke, we have a team of experienced building surveyors to help you decide whether a Photographic Schedule of Condition is a suitable option for you. Whether you are a commercial tenant wanting to move into a new property or you’re a building owner planning construction works, please feel free to call us on 023 8155 0051. We look forward to helping you.

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Discover something you would like to know more about?

Faye Williams, party wall and building surveyor at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Faye Williams,
BSc (Hons) MFPWS Senior

Surveyor & Winner of Young Property Person of the Year 2023

Faye joined Harrison Clarke in 2018. Faye found an interest in Party Wall surveying, and became a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors in 2022.

Since then, Faye has set out a revolutionary approach to party wall instructions, by focusing on people and relationships, backed up by expert knowledge. Faye’s approach has saved building owners £1,000s in unnecessary party wall fees.