What is a Facility Condition Assessment? The Value of an FCA

facility condition assesmentPicture this–you’re finishing up another workday without any urgent calls from your maintenance team. There were no fires to put out (literal or figurative) because all of your facilities are running smoothly with the regular upkeep they need. 

That’s the power of facility condition assessments. 

In this article, we’ll outline the importance of facility condition assessments, who needs them, how to perform them, and other helpful tips to maintain your properties

What is a facility condition assessment (FCA)? 

FCAs are comprehensive, data-driven assessments that evaluate the physical condition of your buildings to help determine what preventive maintenance, repairs, and upgrades you should perform — and when you should perform them. You may have also heard FCAs referred to as asset condition assessments or building condition assessments. 

These assessments are an important part of any facility management strategy. They help determine if your buildings are suitable for their intended functions. They also eliminate guesswork by helping building owners and managers make informed decisions about their properties’ futures. 

When you perform an FCA, several factors should be considered: 

  • Ability to perform its intended function
  • Building age
  • Construction materials
  • Design parameters

Operations teams will use this information to review your systems, determine the root cause of deterioration (if there is any), determine the replacement value of your assets, and evaluate the overall capability to meet the needs of the building’s occupants. 

Side note: You might hear property condition assessment and facility condition assessment used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Typically, a property condition assessment is performed prior to selling a property, whereas a facility condition assessment is performed to keep up regular maintenance of your facilities — office buildings, warehouses, manufacturing plants, etc.

Building Maintenance Checklist

Use this helpful template as a starting point for your building maintenance program.

What does a facility condition assessment include?

An FCA does more than just help you keep up with regular maintenance. A team of specialists will perform a thorough inspection of your facilities to help identify problems that could affect the building’s integrity and functionality.

Let’s take a look at some of the items that a good FCA should include to help you improve your facilities’ longevity. 

  • Current conditions of building assets (like roofing, electrical, HVAC system, mechanical, plumbing, and structural)
  • Age and lifespan forecast of each asset
  • Cost analysis and a timeline to help you manage your budget for maintenance, upkeep, and replacements
  • Code and compliance concerns
  • A maintenance plan with a prioritized list of repairs and replacements
  • Cost estimates to fix any deferred maintenance backlogs (if necessary)

Why do you need a facility condition assessment? 

Facility assessments are important for maintaining the physical condition of your properties. Beyond keeping up with regular maintenance, you might perform various types of condition assessments on your properties for the following reasons: 

Selling a property 

If you’re selling a property, you should perform a property condition assessment to determine what work you need to do before selling it — or to provide the buyers with a report on the existing condition if you are selling as is. 

Prioritize repairs 

Condition assessment data can help property owners and maintenance teams prioritize the repairs, renovations, and upgrades your building needs over time to ensure its longevity. 

Avoid costly repairs

It’s no secret that regular maintenance can help you avoid costly repairs in the future. FCAs can help you identify problems in their early stages so you can save on the cost of huge damages. 

Ensure safety and compliance with local laws

In certain areas, the law requires regular FCAs to ensure your facilities are up to code for the city or county you live in. This is often to ensure the safety of a building’s occupants and other nearby facilities. Make sure you stay in compliance with your local laws and keep your facilities safe!  

Who needs a facility condition assessment?

The short answer — anyone who has a building to maintain needs an FCA.  

In reality, the list of those who need this assessment is unlimited. Anyone who owns property, particularly for commercial purposes, can benefit from an FCA. In many cases, as previously stated, commercial properties are required by law to have regular FCAs, too. 

If you are the owner or decision-maker for a commercial property or have a real estate investment portfolio, you’ll likely need an FCA. 

Commercial properties that may need FCAs include (but are not limited to): 

  • Office buildings
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Government facilities
  • Retail spaces
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Storage warehouses
  • Real estate investments (rental properties, commercial assets, etc.)

How often do you need facility condition assessments? 

As a general rule, you should perform an FCA every five to ten years. A good FCA can even last up to 15 years. FCA data should include recommendations and a maintenance schedule for at least a five-year period, and often they list recommendations for up to 10 years.  

This schedule can vary a lot depending on the type of facility, where it resides, local laws, building age, how many buildings you have, and more.

For example, a building that is used frequently with many occupants and has a higher need for accessibility, like a school or hospital, will need more frequent FCAs than a storage warehouse that doesn’t have as many moving parts. 

Who performs a condition assessment? 

Several factors come into play when determining who performs your facility’s condition assessment. You may choose to employ an internal team to take this on or hire an external third party. 

To determine who should perform the assessment, consider the following factors: 

  • Level of expertise needed
  • How much detail you need
  • Your timeframe
  • The number of facilities you have
  • Size and type of facilities

The more complex your facilities the more detail you’ll need and the more you’ll need additional personnel to support you in this task. 

Benefits of performing an FCA internally

When you rely on your internal team to perform an FCA, you have more control over the timeframe and cost of the assessment. Addressing this in-house can be a great option if you only have one building or don’t have very many large facilities. 

Benefits of outsourcing an FCA

Bringing an external assessor to the party can provide greater expertise and a more objective approach. Plus, as we’ve mentioned–the more complex your facilities are, the greater need for additional resources in your assessment. A third-party company that is dedicated to these types of assessments may find things that your internal team wouldn’t. 

Finding a company to perform your FCA

If you are looking for a company to perform your next facility condition assessment, take note of these considerations: 

  • Look for local companies. Take your search to Google and search for “facility condition assessment companies” or “building condition assessment companies” near you. Local companies should be familiar with any local requirements you may need to adhere to. 
  • Find someone with expertise in your industry. Industry experience will make all the difference in performing a thorough and effective FCA. Make sure the company or contractor you hire has assessed your type of facility before, and ask them for a sample report to see what information they’ll provide. 
  • Do your due diligence. Don’t just hire the first company you come across on Google. Look into the company to see who performs the assessment and what their credentials are. Check out online reviews to see what other people are saying about them. 

How to perform a facility condition assessment

FCAs will vary a lot depending on the type of facilities you manage or own, but generally speaking, there are six steps that you or your assessor should follow throughout the assessment process. 

Steps in a Facility Condition Assessment or FCA

Step 1: Determine the scope of the assessment

This is kind of a “pre-assessment” step. During this phase, you should prepare for the FCA by determining its scope and relevant parameters. 

Scope of the assessment:

  • Number of buildings
  • Physical characteristics of each building (size, location, age)
  • Function and design

Relevant assessment considerations: 

  • Timeframe and deadlines
  • Budget and expected costs

Data and information needed: 

  • Historical maintenance data
  • Employee/occupant interviews
  • Permitting/zoning information

Outline the scope of your FCA strategy before you dive into the next steps. 

Step 2: Collect important data before inspection

Now that you know the scope of your FCA, you can start data collection. During this step, you or your assessor can conduct interviews, review past reports and maintenance logs, take inventory of your assets, review building plans, review past expenditures, and gather all of the data you’ll need for an effective assessment. 

Step 3: Conduct the building inspection

Having all of the data gathered will allow for a more thorough inspection of your facilities. During the inspection, the assessor will walk through your facilities, taking note of their findings. This may include photos and video and an evaluation of each component of your facility. 

Your assessor will also need to test building systems and functionality to ensure everything works as it should. 

Step 4: Analyze the data

Once the data collection and inspection are concluded, your assessor will analyze the data to determine what future steps need to take place to keep operations running. 

Step 5: Prepare recommendations

After data analysis, your assessor can prepare actionable recommendations on a timetable for the next several years. This should outline any repairs, upgrades, or replacements that you’ll need to make as well as their costs. It may also include tasks for regular, ongoing maintenance. 

Step 6: Create and present the final report

The final report will help building owners and managers identify any problem areas and prioritize their next steps. Things that you may see in the final report include: 

  • FCA checklist that reviews each area of your facility with their conditions
  • Recommendations with timeline and costs
  • Facility condition index (FCI) for your facility

Facility Condition Assessment or FCA ChecklistWhat is Facility Condition Index (FCI)? 

Facility condition index (FCI) is a numerical value assigned to reflect the overall condition of your building. It is used to provide a benchmark to compare the conditions of similar groups of facilities.

FCI is calculated by taking the total cost of existing repairs and maintenance needed and dividing that by the total replacement value of your building. This will provide a percentage that helps you determine how the cost of repairs compares to the cost of just replacing the entire building. 

If your cost of repair is more than it would take to replace the building, then your facilities are in pretty bad shape. 

As a general rule, a building with an FCI of 10% or less is in good condition. 

FCA Facility Condition Index

What to do with your FCA

As we’ve discussed, an FCA can help you determine the best steps to take to ensure a good operational future for your building(s). 

Take the recommendations from your FCA and put a plan into action. Determine the budgets, personnel, and time that you’ll need to complete each of these tasks. 

Facility management software can help!

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can help you stay on track with your FCA recommendations. By keeping your recommendations in a CMMS and using maintenance schedules to manage their execution, you don’t have to worry about missing important steps in your facility management plan. 

Interested in trying one out? We’re offering a free trial of our Limble CMMS maintenance software for businesses like yours.

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