While the current social distance regulations remain in place, surveyors are under pressure to spend as little time inside occupied properties as possible. One way of doing that is to rely upon a photographic only schedule of condition instead of the traditional written record but can it ever be as useful?
Prior to the pandemic the primary document in a schedule of condition was the written description, prepared by the surveyor acting for the building owner, with photographs performing a supporting function. Some, usually less experienced surveyors, would suggest using photos only but that option would generally be frowned upon. In fact, if a building owner’s surveyor suggested using photos only, I would offer to prepare the written record for them myself.
There are a number of issues with photographic only schedule of conditions:
A trend that I’ve noticed recently, and which I hope doesn’t take off, is to write the schedule of condition retrospectively by reference to photographs taken on site. If the photographs are the sole point of reference when writing or a schedule of condition it would presumably be exactly the same if written up 12 months later and that rather defeats the purpose.
Photographs are a valuable part of a schedule of condition and I will always spend some time comparing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots if damage is picked up on a final inspection but we’re not yet at the point where they can replace the written record. Until the current restrictions are lifted, I’ll just have to continue to dictate my notes at speed which is bad news for our typists.
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