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A Guide to Facilities Condition Assessments and Why Your Buildings Need One

Maximize asset management with a comprehensive Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA). Learn how an FCA can help you prioritize projects and support long-term planning.

A Guide to Facilities Condition Assessments and Why Your Buildings Need One

Facilities Condition Assessments (FCAs) have become an indispensable tool for building owners and managers looking to maintain efficient, safe, and cost-effective facilities. From maximizing asset management to proactively addressing maintenance needs, an FCA empowers decision-makers to make informed choices for their buildings' long-term success. But what exactly is an FCA and why do your buildings need one?

According to Chip Phillips, Senior Project Manager with Colliers Project Leaders, an FCA is simply the identification of deferred maintenance backlog at a client's facility. An FCA looks at the whole building. Unlike regular inspections that provide a list of issues, the FCA prioritizes based on urgency and provides estimated costs for addressing the needs. It aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of everything that needs to be done and covers major building components such as the exterior shell, roofs, walls, doors, windows, finishes, HVAC, electrical, plumbing systems, and code issues.

Chip told us about an FCA he did for East Greenwich Public Schools. The scope of the project not only looked at building conditions but also demographic projections, enrollment projections, and space utilization. From this data the team was able to recommend that the best way to address the needs across the district was to build a new middle school, which they did. The wealth of information from the FCA informed an almost 10-year program to upgrade all schools in the district.

Want to learn more? Here are six ways an FCA can benefit your organization:

1. Asset Management

A facilities condition assessment provides a comprehensive understanding of the condition and performance of your buildings. It helps you effectively manage your assets by identifying maintenance and repair needs, prioritizing investments, and planning for future upgrades or replacements. Reviewing existing documentation related to the facility, such as maintenance records and architectural plans, helps inform an FCA by providing more information and avoiding duplication of effort. This streamlines the duration of the study as the process of completing an FCA depends on the size of the engagement. For a single building, it can take a couple of weeks, but for a campus, it can range from 6 to 9 months.

2. Budget Planning

By assessing the condition of your facilities, you can accurately estimate the costs associated with building and site repairs, upgrades, and renovations. This information is crucial for developing a realistic budget that aligns with your organization's goals and priorities. Additionally, preventing deferred maintenance can help your organization avoid costly emergency repairs and potential long-term damage to buildings.

3. Stakeholder Communication

Once completed, an FCA report serves as a valuable communication tool for stakeholders, such as board members, staff, and the institutional community. It helps present a clear picture of the current state of your facilities, justify budget requests, and gain support for necessary investments and improvements. As a result, decision makers and facilities personnel can understand how much to allocate and how to spend it appropriately across the facilities.

4. Long-Term Planning

For organizations with large or multiple buildings, long-term planning is essential. An FCA identifies potential risks and hazards within the facility and prioritizes tasks based on urgency. It typically categorizes priorities into three ranges: within three years, three to five years, and five to ten years. These valuable insights enable you to develop a strategic roadmap for the future, helping you to prioritize maintenance and renovation projects, schedule upgrades, and allocate resources effectively over the long term.

5. Life Cycle Cost Analysis

Assessing the condition of your facilities helps you conduct a life-cycle cost analysis. By evaluating the costs associated with owning, operating, maintaining, and replacing building components, you can make informed decisions about investments and allocate funds wisely. The prioritized list of projects accounts for urgent tasks that need to be addressed soon, but also includes projects that can be deferred because they're not imminently affecting anything, such as a 15-year-old roof. Having this included in the report allows the client to start planning ahead for the major cost of replacement when the roof surpasses its 20–30-year life span.

6. Safety and Compliance

Large buildings, such as educational and municipal facilities, have numerous safety regulations and compliance requirements. An FCA helps identify potential safety hazards, such as outdated electrical systems, fire code violations, or structural deficiencies. This risk analysis for your physical resources and assets helps you to understand the condition of your buildings and take proactive measures to mitigate possible risks. Addressing these issues promptly ensures a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors while avoiding costly penalties or legal consequences.

It’s clear that FCAs are a valuable tool in understanding and maintaining your facilities. By conducting an FCA at least once every 5-10 years, you can optimize performance, prioritize projects, and make informed investment decisions. FCAs provide a comprehensive understanding of your facilities, enabling you to identify deficiencies, enhance safety, and support long-term planning. Embracing this systematic approach unlocks the potential for long-term success and sustainable operations.

If you're in need of a professional team to conduct your FCA, don't hesitate to contact us. Let our extensive experience help you achieve your facility management goals.