Facility Condition Assessments, or, the Old Way of Doing Things
If you manage dozens or hundreds of facilities, you are probably ordering Facility Conditions Assessments every 5-10 years. But this conventional model may not be yielding data you can actually use effectively. Why not? Your huge portfolio was never meant to be refreshed all at once. Instead of making decisions for the future based on data you recorded 5-10 years ago, there’s a better way.
Facility Condition Assessments vs. Building Condition Modeling
When looking to plan for capital asset improvements that affect long-term growth, there are two methods to examine your building conditions: the familiar Facility Conditions Assessments and an emerging approach to data gathering—Building Condition Modeling. Both help you capture asset data, prioritize projects and fund long-term replacements and repairs. But one is faster, more cost-effective, and versatile.
Let’s break them down.
WHAT DO FCAS LOOK LIKE TODAY?
A Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) documents the current state of a group of buildings and systems by looking at factors such as age, use, environment, design and more. It is a labor-intensive process that relies on skilled technicians, architects or engineers to collect information on site. Some assessments can take months, but since their purpose is to get a comprehensive understanding of a group of buildings in order to defend reinvestment dollars, most facility managers feel it is worth the time, effort and money.
Once you complete an FCA, you are usually left with enough information to determine each building and system’s Facilities Condition Index (FCI) score. The scores then influence a list of repairs and replacements to make, ideally over the next two years. But how often do you actually have the budget to complete them all within that time?
If you have to wait beyond two years for the money to make repairs, how can you be confident that the information you are working from hasn’t changed? You can’t. To ensure that you have the most current, accurate data, you are required to spend more on future FCAs for the same buildings, and the cycle continues.
WHAT IS BUILDING CONDITION MODELING?
Building Condition Modeling (BCM) tells you which of your buildings need an FCA and when.
Advancements in industry tech have made it possible to use BCM to build a capital plan even if you have little to no data on your facilities. Using an algorithm based on historical cost libraries and a credible database, you can enter just a handful of basic data points to establish FCI scores.
BCM uses your input to estimate lifecycle costs and replacement values associated with your various building assets. Then, you can use this budget information in your planning process. With no need for feet-on-the-ground analysis, you can make decisions about your future projects quickly and easily.
A NEW SOLUTION: USE BCM TO IMPROVE YOUR FCA SPENDING
When your Capital Improvement priorities are unclear, there’s only one smart way to spend your valuable time and money. You don’t need to choose between your traditional FCAs and BCM—they both become part of a new, compatible system. Take the dollars you would have allocated to full-scale FCAs and make them work harder by using BCM to help choose and prioritize which FCAs you should undertake—or skip entirely.
Using this new solution, there will be times where you don’t need to order an FCA for certain assets. And yet, you can still garner the necessary building information that will help you plan for improvements. For facilities that fall low on your priority list, whether their conditions are less critical, or their maintenance issues are a lower risk, you can replace your FCA process with BCM. Its estimation methods give you a faster ROI, because it will give you the asset’s baseline replacement value with one click.
However, this new method will most often require a combination of modeling and assessments. Instead of doing a costly FCA that covers your entire campus, a complementary BCM will reveal which buildings need an assessment today, tomorrow or two years from now.
Here’s what it looks like: After modeling your data, you can analyze all of your buildings’ FCI scores. The highest scores will tell you which facilities you need to target for full-scale FCAs. That way, the recommended projects from these FCAs will be based on current information, and they will have a better chance of completion within the necessary time frame.
Why continue spending thousands of dollars up front when you only end up using a fraction of the data or, if you wait, relying on old data? When you have asset information at hand, you can make more informed decisions on which buildings need attention. By adding BCM to your process, you will end up with more accurate data and the ability to defend your budget down to the dollar. Start using your new solution of BCM + FCA for an immediately smarter, more cost-effective and versatile way to plan capital improvements.
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