How to Write an Architectural Report

An architectural report describes the existing condition and code compliance of a building, its site, and its systems. It consists of photographs and written materials that document the writer's onsite building inspection and analysis of local building codes and zoning ordinances. Use an Architectural Report to establish a maintenance plan, to help determine the sales or purchase price of a building, or to assess problems that may be encountered when remodeling or adding on.

House renovation
credit: simazoran/iStock/Getty Images
A woman carrying a clipboard inspects a buidling.

How to Write an Architectural Report

Step 1

Check the local zoning ordinance for rules affecting the site. Typical restrictions include building setbacks from each property line; maximum building height and area; the size, location and number of required parking spaces; and general land use. List any existing conditions that do not comply with the ordinance.

Step 2

Check the local building code for rules affecting the building. Confirm that all permits required for existing construction were obtained and that construction complies with requirements. Typical code requirements govern the width and number of exits, the minimum width of corridors, the width and height of stairs and steps, the amount of light and ventilation in each room, ceiling heights and room areas, and types of construction and materials. List items that do not comply.

Step 3

Check for hazardous materials. Visually check for exposed polystyrene or asbestos insulation. Check building department records to see if radon has been discovered in the immediate area. Check the site for indications of underground oil storage tanks. Note the possible presence of suspected hazardous materials and recommend that a specialist perform additional tests to confirm their presence.

Step 4

Check for indications of structural damage. Check the foundation and basement slab for settlement and cracking. Confirm that the building is level and true. Look for deflection in floors, ceilings and roof surfaces. Look for unexplained cracks in plaster or drywall. Photograph and note the location of each.

Step 5

Confirm that the building is watertight and airtight. Note the visual condition and probable age of the roof, flashings and gutters. Look for evidence of water stains in exterior materials and interior ceilings and walls. Note their locations. Open and close each window and exterior door to confirm operability and tight fit. Note deficiencies. Photograph problem areas.

Step 6

Note the condition and appearance of interior and exterior finishes. Note locations where materials should be repaired or replaced. Photograph typical deficiencies.

Step 7

Review condition of heating, air conditioning, electrical systems, and plumbing systems and fixtures. Confirm that each meets applicable codes and is in working order. Turn on the furnace and then, the air conditioner. Turn on each faucet. Plug a corded light bulb into each electrical outlet to confirm that it works. Turn on each faucet. Check each drain.

Step 8

Check age and condition of appliances. Cycle through each appliance. Do not assume that an appliance is in working order even if it appears to be new.

Step 9

Assemble your information. An architectural report consists of a title sheet identifying the building name and address and the writer's name and contact information followed by an itemized list of each item inspected and its deficiency, if any. Use photographs for clarity and emphasis.