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Abstract: Facilities Condition Assessment

Facilities Condition Assessment

Objectives. The main assessment objective is  to measure the condition and functionality of buildings, infrastructure, and sub systems. Assessment methodology objectives are identifying renewal and replacement needs and guiding capital project decision options (e.g., renovation, modernization).

Purposes. Specific purposes  include  facility inspections; definition of regular maintenance, capital renewal, and replacement projects; elimination of damaging or hazardous conditions; identification of energy conservation options; accessibility inventory; and cost estimate and schedule development.

Scope. Traditional facilities audits are limited to physical deficiencies and compliance deficiencies (e.g., codes, ADA). Functionality assessments  focus  on  how  the space functions in current and alternate uses. This BOK chapter methodology combines a physical condition assessment (or life-cycle modeling, or both) with a functionality assessment, providing a more complete view of existing facilities and input for decisions.

Full Physical Condition Assessment versus Predictive Modeling. Such assessments rely on (1) detailed inspections, staff interviews, recorded reviews, feasibility studies, and cost-schedule estimates; (2) a model for predictive forecasting (of at least 10 years) of capital renewal and restoration needs and costs, based on life-cycle data; or (3) both. In the education, private, and public sectors, using both is most cost-effective.

Modeling can cost 20 percent less and  take  half  the time (useful for macro capital planning and budgets) but cannot be the core data source without detailed  verifying inspections (of at least 10 percent of facilities).

Intended Users. Facilities condition assessment users include senior campus administrators, governing boards, facilities managers, and team specialists (e.g., consulting architects, engineers).

Applying  the  Assessment.    Facilities  managers  can apply basic principles to develop individualized condition assessments, matching facility type, budget process, organization structure, and input needs to offer appropriate data levels for applications. In-house staff, external consultants, or both can perform the assessment, which requires senior executive support to enhance results credibility and funding probability and improve planning and facilities  management effectiveness by making condition assessments routine.

Assessment Phases. The four facilities condition assessment process phases (see Figure 2.3) are assessment design, data collection, summarizing of results (and priority setting), and presentation of findings.

Figure 2.3. Facilities Condition Assessment Phases

Designing the Assessment

  • Determine assessment scope
  • Select assessment team
  • Plan inspections 


Collecting Data

  • Prepare inspection forms
  • Develop functionality criteria
    • Conduct field inspections for condition deficiencies
  • Hold interviews for functional deficiencies
  • Prepare findings and conclusions report


Summarizing the Results

  • Evaluate inspections
  • Prepare summary reports
  • Compile data
  • Plan future assessments


Presenting the Findings

  • Prepare and present final report
  • Design presentation
  • Gain support
  • Put the assessment to work

Physical   Condition   Assessment.  Condition deficiencies and needed remedial actions are identified to restore buildings or infrastructures to original condition and meet current codes. Critical deficiencies must be corrected in 12 to 24 months; future capital renewal projects are priorities over 2 to 5 years. The assessment requires clear objectives and thorough preparation to collect reliable data and objectively identify deficiencies. The assessment can be comprehensive, limited to a functional area, specific to building subsystems, or specialized for new safety or regulatory rules. Condition assessments, inspection planning, maintenance work, and capital project planning benefit from a culture (not a one-time act) of observing and reporting deficiencies (see Figure 2.4).

Figure 2.4. Sample Capital Projects—With Building Type, FQI, and Priority Level


Project Information Prioritization
Bldg # Bldg Name Project Description GSF Bldg Type Cost Estimate Priority Level FQI
M-06 Bldg Comprehensive building systems and finishes, upgrades and selective restoration of unique features 86,600 Acad $14,092,036 6 0.48
M-07 Bldg Building renovation and restoration of unique features 38,700 Aux $11,674,300 6 0.43
M-08 Bldg Dining Hall modernization and Code Compliance upgrades 5,300 Res $1,376,700 6 0.43
M-09 Bldg Building modernization including exterior, interiors and building systems with reconfigurations (excludes dining) 52.400 Res $9,763,640 6 0.43
M-10 Bldg Comprehensive interior and exterior renovations and restoration 64,200 Acad $11,500,238 6 0.41
M-11 Bldg Building modernization including exteriors, interiors, and building systems, with reconfigurations (excludes dining) 57,400 Res $11,791,215 6 0.41
M-12 Bldg Moderate building refurbishment 7,700 Acad $644,300 7 0.40
M-13 Bldg Comprehensive building renovation 41,300 Acad $7,631,288 7 0.38
M-14 Bldg Building modernization including exteriors, interiors and building systems, with reconfigurations 42,200 Res $5,174,656 7 0.42
M-15 Bldg Refurbishment, system modernization, and selected reconfiguration 95,000 Acad $16,970,009 7 0.37

Source: Adapted (not complete list of projects) from Comprehensive Facilities Plan, Wellesley College, Eva Klein & Associates, Ltd, 2007

Designing the Assessment. The design  should  adjust staff schedules as needed, include consultant management (if needed), budget direct costs (e.g., plan reproduction, building history preparation, laboratory testing) and any consultant costs, include staff training, and specify an overall completion date.

Scope Determination. A scope determination checklist includes defining goals and objectives, inspection methodology, and intended use and format of results; selecting the assessment team; identifying facilities to be assessed; reviewing available data; and establishing

deadlines, staff availability, and facility access. The assessment should be repeated every 3 years (possibly omitting buildings that are in temporary use, below a size threshold, or non essential) but potentially more frequently for unique facilities (e.g., special structural systems, high public use). In practice, comprehensive baselines enable rolling periodic updates.

Selecting the Assessment Team. Team  leaders  (skilled in inspections, planning, maintenance practices and standards) guide the process, supervise database preparation, select and assign the team, schedule the assessment, monitor progress, and report findings and recommendations. The number and qualifications of team members vary with complexity and size of buildings and infrastructure. Teams can use in-house personnel (who are most familiar with facilities and can access operation and maintenance data but need formal training to be part-time inspectors) or consultants, who perform timely and impartial work and offer specialized technical knowledge (freeing the staff for regular duties) but require carefully defined scope and monitoring to manage costs, meet goals, and produce data in formats usable for comparisons.

Data Sources. Physical condition data sources include space inventories, building and infrastructure drawings, field inspections, staff observations and maintenance records, feasibility studies, and reviews of proposed capital projects. The data can be stored and easily accessed in a relational database.

Physical Condition Inspection Preparation. Thorough planning is key for accurate, timely, and useful results. Critical condition inspection factors affect (1) inspection scheduling (e.g., overall timetable; size, number,  age, and type of facilities; staff availability; facility access; involvement of building personnel); (2) inspection assignments (made by team manager, matching skills with assignments and creating teams of two or more people to improve safety and communication); (3) training (e.g., purpose, schedule, data entry, task importance); (4) tools and equipment (needed for each day in the field); (5) notification to building occupants (e.g., preliminary discussions or survey, coordination of planned service disruptions); and (6) emergency work (e.g., procedures and training to ensure prompt  remedies of any emergencies).

Data Collection. Building and infrastructure data are methodically collected and recorded at each facility after logical, detailed, and similar inspections of architectural, civil and structural, electrical, mechanical, and safety components have been completed. Inspections commonly use the National Institute of Standards and Technology taxonomy of building assembly by systems (UNIFORMATII)—Level 1 for major group elements, Level 2 for group elements, and Level 3 for individual elements—enabling comparison across schools. Figures 2.5 and 2.6 illustrate the Level 1 and Level 2 Group Elements for building and infrastructure.

Figure 2.5. UNIFORMAT II Classification for Building Elements 
Level 1 Major Group Elements Level 2 Group Elements
A. SUBSTRUCTURE A10 – Foundations
A20 – Basement Construction
B. SHELL B10 – Superstructure
B20 – Exterior Enclosure
B30 – Roofing
C. INTERIORS C10 – Interior Construction
C20 – Stairs
C30 – Interior Finishes
D. SERVICES D10 – Conveying
D20 – Plumbing
D30 – HVAC
D40 – Fire Protection
D50 – Electrical
E20 – Furnishings
F20 – Selective Building Demolition 

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology. UNIFORMATII Elemental Classification for Building Specifications, Cost Estimating, and Cost Analysis. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999.

Figure 2.6. UNIFORMATII Classification for Building- Related Site Work
Level 1 Major Group Elements Level 2 Group Elements
G. BUILDING SITEWORK G10 – Site Preparation
G20 – Site Improvements
G30 – Site Mechanical Utilities
G40 – Site Electrical Utilities
G90 Other Site Construction

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology. UNIFORMATII Elemental Classification for Building Specifications, Cost Estimating, and Cost Analysis. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999.

Figure 2.7. Functionality Criteria – General Classrooms


Space Type General Classrooms Evaluation
Characteristic Baseline Functionality Criteria Score (1-5) Evaluation Data/Comments
1. Functional adequacy Classroom configuration and the size and arrangement of student and instructional stations satisfies instructional requirements, and provides adequate sight lines.
2. Accessibility Spaces shall meet ADA standards wherever required to meet program accessibility requirements.
3. Room finishes Floors shall be covered in an appropriate, easily cleaned material that will permit the room to be maintained in a neat and orderly condition. Walls and ceilings shall be finished in appropriate, easily cleaned materials. Color schemes and finish materials shall present a pleasing appearance conducive to teaching and learning.
4. Acoustics and sound control Floor covering, wall surface, and ceiling materials shall have appropriate sound absorption and reflective qualities, and insulation against outside noise shall be sufficient to provide a teaching, learning, study, or work environment free of distracting noise levels.
5. Climate control Heating and cooling systems, together with adequate control systems, shall be installed that will permit the maintenance of a comfortable teaching, learning, study, or work environment at all seasons of the year.
6. Lighting The installed lighting system shall provide an adequate quality and level of lighting for the teaching, learning, study, or work environment, and shall be provided with controls to vary or adjust the lighting level as required for specific needs.

Appropriate classroom window coverings shall be provided to permit unimpaired use of A/V or other teaching equipment.

7. Electrical service Adequate electrical capacity and outlets shall be provided in the room to accommodate teaching equipment, laptop computers, office equipment, etc.
8. Instructional support As required, classrooms shall be equipped to support instruction, including:
– Connectivity to campus data networks and the Internet
– Chalkboards, whiteboards, projection screens, or other teaching accessories
– A full range of audio-visual equipment
9. Furniture and fixtures Classroom fixed seating, when installed, shall be ergonomically correct, maintainable, provided with adequate tablet arms or table space for note-taking, and shall provide an unobstructed view.
10. Information technology All office spaces shall have appropriate connectivity to campus data networks and the Internet.
11. Storage space An adequate amount of storage space for equipment and files appropriate to the function shall be provided.

Source: Used with permission. Kaiser, Harvey H. and Klein, Eva. Strategic Capital Development. APPA: Alexandria, Virginia, 2009.

(e.g., priority, project cost). Reports can be designed for specific purposes and can be organized in several ways (e.g., by all or individual facilities, building systems, subsystems, components). They should include more than facts and figures (e.g., executive summary; narrative on process, objectives, priority criteria, projects).

Reporting and Presenting Assessment Findings. The final phase is presenting findings and using them.

Communicating  with  the  Audience.    Assessment value depends on communicating results in a readily understandable format and considering the audience, its interests and knowledge, and relevant issues. Reports should be concise, free of jargon and confusing terms, easily cross-referenced, meticulous in detail and accuracy, and supported by analysis of the cost of delaying action or failing to act.

Developing a Presentation Format. The format should focus on priorities and costs, with supporting material keyed to condensed presentations (and graphics as needed). Reports can be brief statements of fact or extensive narratives. Materials for assessment review sessions should be submitted in advance to participants and formatted for clarity (e.g., title page, executive summary, facilities map and age, current major projects, condition and functionality summaries, and project summaries and details).

Putting the Assessment to Work. This concept means developing an ethic among maintenance staff members, finding funding alternatives, creating program management procedures, and using resources effectively and efficiently—despite facilities, public support, and funding that continue to decline and capital planning and budgeting processes that can lack a project prioritization process, resource allocation model, and will to change.

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