• Chris Dowler, FMP


Why you should care.

It is a well-known truth that you cannot improve what isn't measured. Every credible process improvement begins with a benchmarking system. A tool known as the Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) is one of the best ways to establish a baseline for your facility.

So, what is it?

An on-site survey of building systems identifies the components making up a facility and their condition. The assessment can range from a representative sampling of components (5% of the fire extinguishers, or 50% of the HVAC equipment, or 10% of the steam traps) - which is pertinent for large facilities - to a full review of every component - which is pertinent for smaller facilities. Plans, interviews, and physical inspections are used which result in a Facility Condition Report (FCR) outlining issues found, and priorities of correction.

The Facility Condition Report is a dynamic document which points the way to the creation of a programmed maintenance plan, the development of an accurate operating budget, and the creation of a fact-based capital plan. It is also the basis for other facility improvements. It includes pictures, a narrative of conditions, and a priority list to be addressed. Typically, lifesafety issues take priority.

How is the assessment conducted?

A logical progression through the systems ensures that every component is accounted for. An assessment of general site conditions is a good start point, and then individual systems are reviewed. “Systems” are integrated components that work in concert to achieve the desired result. So, for drainage, as a system, look at the way water flows to the catch basins, then the condition of the catch basin grates, then the actual catch basins, and then the outfall for the drains. Site systems can include drainage, site lighting, sidewalks, pavement, landscaping, patios, and other hardscaping items, as appropriate.

Next review the building envelope. This includes looking at the foundation, the building façade, windows, exterior doors, entryways and the roof.

Inside the building begin with the mechanicals. The heating system, air conditioning, and ventilation are reviewed first. Then look at fire protection systems and move on to plumbing. Power and lighting, followed by security / life safety and audio / visual complete the mechanical portion.

Finally, complete the survey with a review of interior finishes such as flooring, walls, ceilings, furnishings, and appliances.

These systems may or may not be applicable to your facilities. Each facility is unique and there may be many more systems not discussed here.

Now what?

After the physical site visit, all of the pictures and notes must be collated to produce an existing facilities condition survey report. The report is a dynamic document which should, if properly used, be constantly updated to reflect repairs made and new items which need to be addressed. It becomes the facility’s maintenance bible – it drives the creation of the programmed maintenance plan, the development of an accurate operating budget, and the creation of a realistic capital plan.

Maintenance can now be programmed based on an accurate inventory of components requiring maintenance. All systems can now be accounted for. More importantly, assumptions used to develop the operating and capital budgets are now based on credible findings from the report.

How can the report be used?

With the completed report the owner / management team can have confidence in their assumptions in developing budgets, prioritizing corrective action, identifying areas of waste, and better managing risk. One caveat…this report may actually increase, in the short run, operating expenses as there may be some code violations which need to be immediately addressed (and paid for).

Commissioning a report now opens the door to more efficient and effective operation of the facilities. This is how operating costs will be reduced and, most importantly, productivity improved.

An assessment may also be performed prior to the purchase of a facility, to better inform the owner / management team of deferred maintenance and the age / condition of critical infrastructure. This information can be used in the sale / purchase negotiation to gain a better price.

By commissioning a Facility Condition Assessment, the Owner will be able to then ...

  • identify areas of deferred maintenance

  • create a programmed maintenance plan, and reduce operating expenses

  • produce accurate operating & maintenance (O&M) budgets to facilitate planning, and better manage cash flow

  • identify needed capital expenditures and their timing to facilitate planning and better cash flow management

  • support sustainability programs as part of a corporate identity

  • be in a better position to manage facility assets to preserve or extend asset life

  • improve financing options

  • be in a position to negotiate a better price if considering a sale

  • enhance risk management, as priority repair items are identified

The Potential Owner will ...

  • identify areas of deferred maintenance

  • have an accurate idea of what operating & maintenance (O&M) costs will be

  • identify needed capital expenditures

  • improve financing options

  • be in an improved position to negotiate a better purchase price


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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