Whether you have retained a firm to conduct a facility condition assessment (FCA) on a single building or multiple buildings, you are likely to wonder about the impact of the site visit on your department and tenants.
The duration of the site visit will vary depending on the number and size of the buildings and can last from a few hours to several weeks. Most consultants send multiple assessors to walk the entirety of the building(s). This includes accessing the roof, mechanical spaces, common spaces, occupied spaces, restrooms, and the full perimeter of the building. Knowing what to expect and how you can help will make the site visit more efficient and minimize disruptions to your operations.
Deciding when the site visits should occur is the first step in reducing impact. If special events or high traffic times need to be avoided, mention those dates and times to your FCA provider. The consultant will be more than willing to make accommodations. No consultant wants to be on a rooftop while a dignitary is visiting, trust me.
Provide the consultant with particulars regarding visitor parking, meeting locations, and building hours. Parking issues can create havoc during the site visit if parking is limited or distant from the building. If parking passes can be provided or purchased, information regarding securing these will limit delays.
Communication (and, if necessary, coordination) with building occupants should be done weeks prior to scheduled visits. Let the occupants know that facility consultants will be visiting and their purpose. In these times of heightened security and awareness, occupants become more concerned and uncomfortable when strangers are walking the halls of their building or taking photos of their workspaces. If they expect the visitors, however, building security and facility departments avoid the additional work of answering questions and relieving concerns. Advance notice also allows occupants to be participants in the FCA process. Occupants may be more likely to share issues in the building with outside consultants than maintenance staff – information that will make the FCA reports more thorough.
Let the consultant know of any secure areas or security concerns. Areas such as childcare, healthcare, detention centers, and research areas usually have specific guidelines for visitors, and the consulting team should be made aware of these before planning their visits. If equipment, such as hardhats or special footwear, is required, your visitors will need to know that in advance as well. Site visits typically include taking photographs of equipment and finishes. If photography is not allowed or special conditions are needed, the consultants will need to plan for alternative recordkeeping.
Assessment teams prefer to be escorted by a person well-informed of facility issues, such as a maintenance representative. If that is not possible, provide the name of a building occupant to aid with tenant concerns and facility navigation. Whether or not you are intending to provide an escort for the consultants, planning ahead with occupants and the consultant will reduce the time you spend dealing with surprises. If you’re not providing a schedule, assessors will require keys to locked areas.
Proper scheduling, security concerns, and specific building information are critical factors to the success of the consultant’s visit to your location. FCA providers are facilities experts – but they don’t know your building portfolio as well as you do.