Horicon Elementary School addition and graphics designed by Bray Architects

Facility Assessments: The First Step for Your Building Project – Part 1

Part 1: What Is a Facility Assessment?

Facility assessments are a critical first step in your district or municipality’s planning efforts. As you start to plan for your new facilities, it’s important to understand what you already have. A facility assessment will help your stakeholders – and your architect’s design team – decide how to proceed.

What is a facility assessment?

Facility assessments evaluate the condition of your existing buildings. They offer a detailed overview of the buildings from an architectural and engineering perspective.

Here’s an overview of Bray’s facility assessment process:

  • Information gathering – Our team collects any existing drawings or documents that might be useful to our assessment
  • On-site walkthrough – We conduct a walkthrough of your buildings
  • Documentation – We document our observations through notes, measurements, and photographs
  • Study document – Back at our office, we organize our findings into a comprehensive and easy-to-read book that your district or municipality – and your taxpayers – can refer to as you plan for your building projects

What’s not included in a facility assessment?

A facility assessment is a report. It will point out our concerns with the architectural and mechanical systems of your existing buildings, but it will not identify solutions or costs associated with fixing them – that will come later in the master planning process.

The assessment team will address only what’s immediately visible in your buildings. They will not analyze any buried or hidden elements that would require partial demolition, extensive investigation, or additional testing.

It’s also important to note that facility assessment is only the first phase of the master planning process. It will not include design concepts or suggestions for what the spaces could be, which will come later in the process.

A sample scorecard from Bray's study documents

Our study documents include a scorecard for each part of the assessment, providing an easy-to-understand overview of your building and site conditions.

The Study Document

The primary deliverable of a facility assessment is the study document. It’s a comprehensive book that documents the team’s observations. It includes written summaries, diagrams, and photographs of your existing building conditions.

The study document includes evaluations of:

  • Interior architectural features, including walls, doors, ceilings, and floors
  • Building mechanical systems, including HVAC, electrical, and life safety
  • Exterior architectural features, including walls, doors, windows, the roof, and building site
  • The building’s site
  • Compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) code

Our team will rank each assessment area using a scale of good, fair, and poor. This ranking system will help you identify the overall condition of each building component and which ones have the greatest need for repair or replacement.

Here are some example assessments from recent study documents:

Up next, we’ll review why you should have a facility assessment in hand before moving ahead with your building projects.

Read Part 2: Why are Facility Assessments Important?

Be sure to also check out:

Part 3: The Facility Assessment Process

Watch our 90-second video on facility assessments

Featured image, top: Bray prepared a facility assessment for Horicon School District – the first step in helping them identify their need for an elementary school addition to the existing middle and high school.