Pre-Construction Surveys

April 2024

As our communities expand to accommodate greater density, existing buildings are at risk of damage from nearby construction.

With new buildings and transit being constructed, equipment used during excavation cause vibrations that can damage adjacent buildings.  Documenting the condition of a building pre- and post-construction shows what damage has not been caused by wear.  Any new damage can more easily be attributed to recent construction activities.

“Surveys conducted by qualified engineers prior to the onset of new construction provide a snapshot of an existing property’s condition” explains Brown & Beattie Building Science Engineering, which works with condominium corporations to maintain their infrastructure.  “These independent inspections make owners aware of conditions that may be affected by sustained vibrations caused by nearby construction work.”

A pre-construction survey would involve identifying existing cracks and other damage in walls, floors, finishings and exterior cladding above and below ground prior to commencement of nearby construction.  Once construction is complete, any damage that may have been caused by the work can be identified.

An independent pre-construction survey begins with a site review to document the building’s current condition.  Existing cracks in walls, and signs of deterioration or settlement are noted for at least the first two storeys of the building and lower levels.  The location and extent of conditions prior to neighbouring construction would be documented by way of a video or photos.  Finally, a findings report is prepared including photographic documentation and recommended actions.

Pre-construction surveys conducted by developers are usually more cursory and may not provide sufficient detail to ensure they fully capture existing conditions, although documented damage becomes harder to dispute later.  However, these surveys may not be available for review by owners of existing buildings.