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How to Carry Out an Assessment

Most of the questions within the assessment have multiple choice answers however there is an additional comments box for you to give more information. Most answers need your observation however some do require your judgement. Do try to be impartial and not be influenced by any background knowledge you may have of the site or its owner.

Complete as much of the assessment form as you can during the visit rather than waiting to complete it afterwards. If you run out of time on site, it is better to return another day than to rush it. If you cannot come to a conclusion on an answer, take notes and photographs so that it can be resolved later on with the help of others.

Your assessment is a ‘snapshot’ of the building on the day you assess it. Your assessment should give a balanced impression of its condition and use. Make firm comment where it is needed but, equally, there is no need to be overly critical. Remember, appearances can be deceptive, historic buildings will have aged but that doesn’t always mean they are in poor condition.

A group of volunteers in Leeds undertaking a condition assessment of Grade II listed buildings
A group of volunteers in Leeds undertaking condition assessment of Grade II listed buildings © Historic England

Assessing items

Often a listed entry may comprise a number of separate buildings such as formal residential terraces and sometimes the condition of individual buildings differ from one another. Please complete an assessment for each building as well as an assessment which covers the listed entry as a whole. For example, 1-10 Smith Street is one list entry which comprises 10 buildings. You should assess each building individually and then use the information obtained from the 10 assessments to inform an overall assessment of the list entry.

There is space on the assessment form for you to include an item name so you know which assessment relates to which building when you come to submit your information.

Meeting people

If you meet people whilst carrying out your assessment:

  • Explain what you are doing
  • Share with them the project website address so they can find out more

Remember, you do not need the owners consent to visually assess their building or take photographs of it from a public place. However, if you think continuing would be confrontational then stop and leave.

Photography

  • You must take at least one photo of each building in order to submit your assessment and you can upload up to four
  • One photo should be of the exterior so that the building is recognisable
  • Others should show specific issues such as broken windows or leaking guttering
  • Each photo should be given a name (eg. front elevation, view from street)
  • Digital photos should be taken on the highest setting, ideally the image will be in JPEG format and at least 3MB

The assessment

The assessment is in two parts: an initial and full assessment. All assessments should answer the questions in the initial assessment. Only if the condition of the building is in poor or very bad condition do you need to progress to the full assessment. The overall risk assessment is calculated automatically by a combination of condition and occupancy, as shown in the ‘how to assess condition’ section.

Initial assessment

Condition of the main building elements

Firstly you need to assess the condition of the main building elements as good, fair, poor, very bad, not visible or not applicable.

You also have the opportunity to record additional elements which you feel need to be highlighted, for example a chimney stack which looks to be in poor condition. If you would like to mention more than two, please add these to the assessor’s notes section towards the end.

Overall condition

Taking into consideration the evidence collected, assess the condition of the building as a whole as good, fair, poor or very bad. Remember, if you need guidance on how to assess the condition of the individual building elements or the building as a whole, please see the additional guidance on how to assess condition.

Occupancy

You will then need to select the option which best describes how the building is used. Is it occupied/in use, partly occupied/partly in use, vacant/not in use, not applicable or unknown? Obvious signs of an unoccupied building would be boarded up windows, leaflets piling up in the doorway, vandalism and fly posting.

This concludes the initial assessment. You will only need to progress to the full assessment if the overall condition of the building is in poor or very bad condition.

If the overall condition is fair or good, this concludes the assessment and you will be able to submit it for moderation using the website or the app. If you are not progressing to the full assessment but have additional comments which are relevant to the condition of the building, you can add these to the ‘notes from the assessor’ box on the last page of the assessment form.

Don’t forget to take photos, you’ll need to upload at least one with your assessment.

Full assessment

Owner type

The owner is the person/body responsible for the building/structure’s repair; please select one of the categories below. If you are unable to identify the owner type, please select ‘unknown’.

Charity - Non-profit organisation.

Commercial company - A company that has to follow normal accepted business practices and operates in order to make a profit.

Crown - Crown Estate, Crown Estate Commissioners, Duchy of Lancaster, Duchy of Cornwall and the Royal Household.

Educational - Educational establishments independent of local authority funding. State-funded schools, non-private universities. Free schools, academies and LPA-maintained schools. Universities.

Government or agency - Government departments or agencies. Non-departmental public bodies (quangos), BBC, Parliamentary Estate, Royal Parks.

Health Authority - National Health Service, health authorities.

Local Planning Authority - Local planning authorities, parish councils, Greater London Authority.

Mixed, multiple owners - A number of differing types of owner.

Private - Individuals, private trusts, executors of estates, private royal estates.

Religious organisation - All congregations and denominational authorities, eg dioceses.

Unknown - To be used when ownership details are not known to the assessor.

Utility -Network Rail, water boards, harbour authorities.

Trend

Based on your local knowledge and information gathered, here you should note how the condition of the building is likely to develop: improving, stable, declining or unknown. If the overall condition of the building is poor or very bad, the trend is most likely to be declining unless there is visible and significant repair work in progress, in which case it would be improving. If the condition is fair but maintenance would be required within the next year for it to remain as fair, it is likely to be declining. If the condition is fair and this would not be adversely affected by more than 12 months without maintenance, it is likely to be stable.

Notes from the assessor

Here you can add any additional comments which are relevant to the condition of the building? This section is limited to 500 characters, so please be as precise as you can. Your comments should be as factual as possible and not reflect personal opinions.

This concludes the full assessment. Please remember to take photos, you need to upload at least one to be able to submit your assessment.

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Historic England Condition Survey Team