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Strategies: Blueprints and Checkboxes: Simplifying the Facilities Audit

By Net Assets posted 25 days ago

air conditioning system on roof

Facilities |

With an affordable in-house audit, both your facilities team and your service providers will become more familiar with your campus and more invested in it too.

Article by Dale Temple, Washington International School

From the May/June 2019 Net Assets magazine

The mention of a facilities audit can invoke a mixture of fear and dread. But what many schools perceive as a difficult and expensive process involving mountains of data need not take much time or money. Nor should it be overthought. If your school hasn’t performed an audit recently, this guide can help you get started.

The purpose of a facilities audit is to create a system that tells you what you have, how to maintain it, when to replace it and how much replacement will cost. I suggest beginning with the basics, then adding other items over time. Here’s an outline to get you on your way.

Basic Audit Categories

  • MEP (mechanical/HVAC, electrical, plumbing)
  • Elevators
  • Roofs
  • Fire protection
  • Infrastructure (utilities, drainage, fields/playgrounds, paving)

Information Resources

  • Blueprints
  • Operations and maintenance manuals
  • Current service vendors and consultants
  • Facilities director, building engineer or maintenance personnel

Data Collection

I suggest using simple Excel files to collect your audit information in three general areas of classifications: buildings, grounds, equipment. You can choose to create multiple tabs by campus or building. Then, create columns with the information you wish to gather. The following are the most essential:

  • What (description)
  • Brand (who manufactured it)
  • Model number
  • Serial number
  • Quantity
  • Size
  • Location
  • Date installed or put in service
  • Useful life
  • Remaining useful life
  • Condition
  • Working as it should be – Y/N
  • Repair history
  • Specialized maintenance
  • Recommended service
  • Inspection required – Y/N

This is all you need to get started. By using your blueprints and the people who service your equipment, you’ll get most of the information you need. For example, you can give your HVAC service contractor a blank sheet with the relevant data-collection columns. Ask him or her to complete the information for each item, and ask the estimator to provide a current replacement cost. Using that cost, and adding a percentage to cover inflation over each year of remaining useful life, you can calculate its replacement cost and plan for that capital outlay.

The most important thing is to start collecting [the data].

The time it takes to do a basic audit depends on the size of your campus, but the collection of information can take as little as one week. The most important thing is to start collecting. If you want a company to do it for you, there are certainly many out there, but you will save a lot of money by doing it in house. This is a great way for your facilities team to get to know their campus and become invested in the process and with their service providers. If you have a relationship with an architect or engineer, you can also use him or her as a resource.

A final note: If you do choose to contract out your facilities audit, be aware that many audit companies have developed strategic alliances with software companies that might not be the right fit for your school. They also tend to use consultants who are not local to your campus. If you still choose to take this route, know that you can export your simple Excel files into .csv files, which any facilities software company can import and download into its system.

Dale Temple is director of facilities and operations at Washington International School, a preK-12th grade day school located on two campuses in Washington, D.C. He has been a Certified Facilities Manager since 2001.
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