Relative Condition Assessment

Assessing an Asset's Relative Condition is often the first thing that comes to mind of Municipal Administrators when thinking about Asset Management Planning, and it is a critical part of a good Asset Management Plan, along with Level of Service Assessments, and Asset Risk Assessments.

Goal of the Relative Condition Assessment

A good assessment of an asset’s relative condition, lets municipal administrators know if an asset needs to be replaced, or repaired. We use the term “relative” because assessing an assets condition should be done in a comparative manner. Typically, the result of a condition assessment is in the from of a scale from Critical to Good.

Components of a Relative Condition Assessment

How one determines the relative condition of an asset depends on the asset type. For example, the condition of fire hydrants cannot be measured against the same set of criteria as roads. For this reason, each asset type should have a series of questions that would help an inspector determine the condition of an asset. For example, the condition of a culvert may depend on the results of the following questions:

  • Evidence of failure – has the culvert collapsed?
  • Degree of corrosion – is there evidence that the culvert has corroded?
  • Sediment in cross section – is there a significant amount of material (ie. rocks, rubble, gravel, plants) blocking the pathway of the culvert?

Based on the answer to these questions, an inspector may be able to determine the resultant relative condition of an asset.

Asset Conditions

When determining what scale to use when assigning Relative Condition scores, it is important to understand how the different values relate to each other. For example, how long does it take for an asset to degrade from Good condition, to Poor condition.

Asset condition barely degrades in a linear fashion. For this reason, Asset Degradation curves are typically applied to different asset classes, such as the one below:

It is important for a Municipality to understand what type of curve each asset type abides by.

Preventative Maintenance

Based on anticipated asset condition degradation rates, a Municipality may decide to perform preventative maintenance on municipal assets, to avoid service disruptions or significant replacement costs. Preventative maintenance activities, such as applying seals to road cracks on paved road, will extend the useful life of the asset.

Best practices

  • Keep condition assessment criteria consistent – make sure that condition assessment criteria are the same amongst asset classes, so that assets can be compared appropriately
  • Keep it simple – Do not create complicated assessments
  • Get into the field – these condition assessments must be done in the field
  • Train the inspectors – be sure to train the inspectors on what to look for when evaluating assets. It may also be a good idea to have inspectors take pictures of assets, so that assessments can be retroactively reviewed for quality.