Property asset registers: How to get started

How do you get started with a property asset register if you don’t already have one – or the data you have is incomplete? Here’s what you need to consider before you start inspecting your assets.

When you’re getting started with asset management planning, one of the very early steps is to create a physical property asset register – also known as a building asset register.  

After all, to be able to maintain your assets, you need to know what they are, their replacement cost, and their life expectancy. In order to do that, reliable data is needed on the asset’s size, type, age, condition, and material.

Other uses for the property asset register 

 As well as being used for asset management and building maintenance, this property asset register may be required by the finance department for valuation and insurance purposes.

It makes sense to store all this information in one main, centralised database rather than in separate databases held by different departments. The goal is for the central list of assets to be complete, accurate, accessible, and be easy to update. 

A property asset register with the appropriate level of data allows an organisation to make better informed decisions; understand and prioritise risks associated with assets; minimise last minute maintenance needs and service disruption; and maximise asset use.  

How to get started with a property asset register: surveys and condition assessments 

Most organisations will have at least some data on their property assets, but it’s likely you’ll need more data, including condition information. (And if you’re starting from scratch, the steps below also apply.) 

In the first year of creating an Asset Management Plan, work with what you’ve got, and make a note of the information you need in subsequent years. 

You’ll also need to decide whether a top-down or bottom-up approach for your property asset portfolio is best for your organisation. This decision should be based on the resources you have available - and it may be a combination of approaches. 

Be sure to keep the data collection process manageable, and aligned with your resources. It’s a mistake to overcomplicate things, or rush headlong into an in-depth survey. Take a step back, and define the business information and reporting needs first – and get consensus on this.  

If resourcing is an issue, remember that SPM Assets has on-the-ground survey support available to help you with condition assessments.   

Setting up your property asset database 

How and where you store your data is an important consideration. It may be tempting to store your data in a spreadsheet: after all, it’s a cheap and familiar option! 

However, spreadsheets put your hard work at risk. It’s very easy for data to get corrupted, or be inputted incorrectly. And if one person is in charge of the spreadsheet, their knowledge often isn’t passed on – so when they leave the organisation, you risk losing the data, or their know-how on how to update formulae.  

Sharing spreadsheets isn’t the answer either, as that exposes massive security issues. Read more about spreadsheet risk.  

What’s a better option than a spreadsheet for your asset data?

Purpose built property asset register software is the ideal solution for managing your asset data. It allows you to:  

  • Input your survey and condition data directly into the software onsite: a cloud-based mobile solution is usually the best option. This saves double handling the data entry, as there’s no need to re-type it. 
  • Easily capture and store photographs of assets, including defects, for visual reference. 
  • Collaborate with your team in an easy, secure, and controlled way. There are even varying permission levels according to role.  
  • Ensure data is accessible to multiple people, and the organisation is not dependent on only one person having access. 
  • Have confidence that data is secure and backed up. The risk of corrupted spreadsheets is eliminated. 
  • Avoid problems relating to differing versions of the spreadsheet being in circulation.  
  • Be confident that the data is consistent, as you can build in a level of rigour in terms of consistency of data. This has quality assurance benefits. 

More often than not asset register software is a module within a wider asset management software solution. This enables you to benefit from in-built reporting functionality including lifecycle analysis, work programme development, budgeting, and forecasting. No more having to export data and experiencing the frustration of trying to make sense of all the information. Asset management software gives you the option to move beyond a simple asset register if you wish. 

Find out more about Asset Management Planning software.   

What data should you capture in your property asset database? 

The purpose of a property asset database is to capture asset condition and performance. You’ll need to decide what to measure and when – and implement condition and performance rating systems using good industry practice. 

There will be an asset hierarchy: for example, a library may consist of wall, roof, guttering/downpipes, windows, floor coverings, wall finishes, fit out and fittings, plumbing, air conditioning, sprinkler system, alarm system, electrical, furniture, computers, and so on.  

Data to capture may include: 

  • Address/location 
  • Asset description 
  • Materials 
  • Dimensions 
  • Installation date 
  • Purchase cost 
  • Asset replacement cost 
  • Asset useful life 
  • Condition grade
  • Performance grade: in terms of functionality, reliability, and capacity 
  • Remaining life 
  • Maintenance history 
  • Standards related to Levels of Service
  • Depreciation value
  • Insurance details 
  • Compliance details. 

The list above won’t be relevant for all assets or all organisations: the first job is to identify what’s really needed. And remember, start off with a simple approach rather than overwhelming yourself at the outset. 

Choose the survey approach that’s right for your organisation 

Asset surveys require resources, so it’s important to consider how much you need to invest. In some cases, in-depth surveys may be justified, but in other instances a sampling approach can be applied rather than physically inspecting all assets.  

Assets that are critical to your organisation should be identified and prioritised first. Understanding an organisation’s critical assets is an important facet of asset management. A first step in filtering out your critical assets is to consider the consequences of certain assets failing, and the overall impact this would have on your organisation.   

It may also make sense to consider certain assets based on age or other factors, rather than simply condition. This is because some assets become obsolete over time for different reasons. Such assets may be in great condition visually but are outdated, unfit for purpose or have reached the end of their life from a usage perspective.  


The property asset register is central to asset management planning, as well as being key to other business functions. You need to consider how data will be stored, and define and rank the data that’s needed for your organisation. Inspections need to be consistent with the resources available and the risk and criticality of your assets.

Next step 

Contact us for a demo of SPM Assets software to see how it can help you with property asset registers.