What is a Facility Condition Assessment? The Ultimate Guide to FCAs

Today’s facilities are facing a myriad of challenges—aging infrastructure, rising utility costs, increased deferred maintenance, air quality issues, occupant discomfort, ongoing regulatory changes, limited resources, and shrinking budgets. Consequently, understanding how well your facilities are performing and identifying areas for optimizations is vital for today’s building owners, investors, and facilities managers.

One of the most valuable tools for doing this is the facility condition assessment (FCA). An FCA gives you a comprehensive picture of where your facility is at in terms of its useful operating life. This information helps you make smart, data-driven decisions to maximize your building’s longevity and anticipate future needs. Without it, expensive repairs and headaches may be hiding right in front of you.

In this guide, we cover the following topics:

What is a Facility Condition Assessment?

A facility condition assessment (FCA) is a comprehensive analysis of the physical condition of a facility and its infrastructure or assets in terms of age, design, construction methods, and materials used. It aims to give an accurate picture of where your facility is in terms of its useful operating life, and provides a necessary foundation for capital planning. This enables you to anticipate future needs and make educated, more cost-effective decisions to improve your facilities, such as:

  • Optimizing and maintaining the physical condition and value of your facility’s assets.
  • Extending asset lifecycles.
  • Developing capital budgets without guess work.
  • Prioritizing resources.
  • Meeting energy management and sustainability goals.

Did you know? A facility condition assessment is also sometimes called a capital needs assessment, deferred maintenance study or building condition assessment. Regardless of its name, FCA is a process that analyzes the physical condition of a facility and its assets.

Why Should I do a Facility Condition Assessment? What is it Used For?

Whether you are a building owner, investor, prospective buyer, facility manager, or government entity, it is crucial to have an accurate and thorough understanding of the condition of your properties in order to maximize your investment. More specifically, common uses and benefits of FCAs include:

  • Establishing a building’s total replacement cost.
  • Determining the remaining useful life of all major building systems, components, and assets.
  • Identifying major and minor system deficiencies.
  • Providing an estimated cost for each system and/or component replacement.
  • Combining condition data with financial analysis to identify facility financial priorities.
  • Driving successful capital improvement planning and budgeting.
  • Prioritizing building repairs to maximize operational efficiency and reduce downtime.
  • Identifying the root causes of deterioration.
  • Extending asset lifecycles.
  • Evaluating how well facilities are meeting the needs of its occupants.
  • Furthering energy management and sustainability goals.

Did you know? Today’s facilities aren’t getting any younger. According to SMR Research, at the end of 2021, the average U.S commercial building was about 53 years old.

This sounds like a Property Condition Assessment. Are they the Same?

No. A facility condition assessment is different from a property condition assessment (PCA). A PCA is performed prior to selling a property, in order to give the new owner an idea of any potential repair costs. It is a breakdown of the condition of the property at that exact point in time, performed so that both the buyer and seller know what to expect.

Facility Condition Assessment vs. Property Condition Assessment

  • Facility Condition Assessment: Looks at the physical condition of a facility and its equipment in order to help optimize and maintain the physical condition and value of the assets, develop capital budgets, and prioritize resources.
  • Property Condition Assessment: Evaluates a real estate asset to identify the costs associated with correcting existing deficiencies. It is typically performed as part of the due diligence process for a commercial real estate property transaction. For a detailed guide and baseline of the PCA process, visit ASTM’s Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments.

How is a Facility Condition Assessment Performed?

The assessment is typically performed via a customized scope that includes:

  • One or more thorough site inspections of the facility and all major building systems, assets, and equipment.
  • Compiling a comprehensive inventory of all facility equipment and related infrastructure.
  • Reviewing all building documents, drawings, and plans.
  • Data analysis and mathematical modeling.
  • Reporting findings and determining actionable next-steps.

Move over Spreadsheets! FCA Software Is Revolutionizing the Industry.

If you’re considering having an FCA performed, one aspect that should not be overlooked is the method of data delivery. Traditionally, facility condition assessments have been performed via paper delivery methods—namely spreadsheets, report binders, and PDFs. Despite advancements in technology, many FCA firms today still use these delivery methods.

The problem? These legacy methods of delivery are static and challenging for end-users to navigate. Imagine trying to sort through a 20,000+ page report in order to find information on one of your assets. It’s an overwhelming and downright daunting task. More often than not, these reports are shelved and opportunities to maximize your building’s longevity are missed—simply because they are buried somewhere within the report.

Moreover, this delivery method is static and becomes outdated quickly. In fact, it’s outdated as soon as the report is issued. This method cannot evolve with your facility or account for future changes.

Fortunately, thanks to better technology, facility condition assessments are evolving into interactive, “living” digital software platforms that can be continuously updated over time, resulting in greater accuracy, enhanced usability, and better capital planning and decision making. Rather than re-doing your assessment every 5 years in a static format, digital FCA software is revolutionizing the entire FCA process.

Now, your facility condition assessment is proactive and can support predictive facilities management. Future updates can be performed in accordance with a working capital improvement plan, so your FCA can change in real time as your building conditions evolve. FCA software also makes it easier for end users to use, apply, and navigate, equating to higher-quality decision making and better capital planning.

How Much Does an FCA Cost?

The cost of a facility condition assessment is typically structured as a price per square foot. Although it varies significantly depending on the level of assessment you require and the type of facility, a cost of 15-30 cents per square foot is standard in the industry.

What to Look for in an FCA Firm

Facility condition assessments are typically performed by engineers, architects, construction managers, certified energy managers, LEED-certified professionals and skilled-trade technicians.

It’s important to seek out an experienced FCA firm with a proven track record of documenting facilities needs and defining project priorities, as well as a thorough understanding of facility management, mathematical modeling, energy management and sustainability planning, and construction methods, equipment, materials, and costs.

When evaluating potential vendors, some questions to ask include:

  • How much experience do you have performing facility condition assessments?
  • What makes your FCA firm different from competitors?
  • How do you conduct your facility condition assessments? What is your process?
  • How long does the process typically take?
  • What is your method of delivery? (Look for a firm that offers digital FCA software.)
  • More specifically, what level of detail is included in your deliverable? Does it go all the way down to architectural details? Does it include all costs?
  • Can your firm make recommendations from an energy efficiency and sustainability standpoint?
  • Do you offer support and/or end-user training?
  • How often should our data be updated?

Our Proven Approach to Facility Condition Assessments

At The Concord Group, we have a proven track record documenting facilities needs and defining project priorities. Our unique approach includes numerous factors that differentiate us from other firms that provide FCAs, including:

  • Our digital dashboard resource, Facility Assessment Condition Toolset (FACTs), is a customizable, interactive tool that presents the assessment results in a manageable deliverable that includes asset locations, asset scores, descriptions, estimated replacement dates, and estimated replacement costs. It allows future updates to be performed in accordance with a working capital improvement plan — meaning your FCA can change in real time as your building conditions evolve.
  • The tool allows for the project team to gather and assess the assets throughout the building utilizing a cloud-based application on their phone or tablet. The information gathered is uploaded to the project delivery database in real time which allows the client team to monitor project progress and to expedite the delivery of the facility condition assessment.
  • Our approach to the assessment not only focuses on asset replacement, but distinctly determines which assets can be repaired or improved to extend their life and defer the replacement cost.
  • With a staff of 14 multi-disciplinary construction cost estimators, our team is well suited to provide realistic full project estimates for the improvement costs now and for future replacements.
  • Our approach combines condition data with financial analysis to identify facility financial priorities.

Conclusion

A facility condition assessment is an incredibly valuable tool to help you optimize and maintain the physical condition and value of your assets, develop capital budgets, prioritize resources, and ultimately maximize your investment. It’s important to seek out a digital delivery platform so your FCA can change in real time as the conditions of your building(s) evolve.

About The Concord Group & Our Facility Condition Assessments

The Concord Group is a team of highly skilled development and construction consultants specializing in the fields of Owner’s Representation, Cost Management, Facility Condition Assessments, Infrastructure Project Management, Cost Segregation, Real Estate Advisory Services and Technical Services (including Sustainability Management, Energy Modeling, Life Cycle Cost and Commissioning).

We have a proven track record documenting facilities needs and defining project priorities. Our digital FCA software allows you to continuously update your data, ensuring your information is always current. You can perform future updates in accordance with your working capital improvement plan, meaning your FCA can change in real time as your building conditions evolve.

If you would like to better understand the true cost of your building(s) (today and decades into the future), and invest in a living FCA that evolves with your facility’s needs, please contact The Concord Group.

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