Reserve Study vs. Facility Condition Assessment

by | Building Health, CFX Community, Facilities, Operations

I have had a number of churches request proposals for a Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) who then tried to compare our offering to a Reserve Study.  There is actually a HUGE difference between these two reports, and I thought it would be prudent to help explain.

Let’s first define the 2 reports (both from Wikipedia):

  1. Reserve Study is a long-term capital budget planning tool which identifies the current status of the reserve fund and a stable and equitable funding plan to offset ongoing deterioration, resulting in sufficient funds when those anticipated major common area expenditures actually occur.
  2. Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) is an analysis of the condition of a facility in terms of age, design, construction methods, and materials. 

reserve study predominately focuses on the amount of reserves needed for building component replacement and/or renewal.  This is a tremendous tool to establish a Capital Reserve account and budget. There are some excellent firms that specialize in these types of reports…most specialize in Property Owners Associations (Often referred to as POA or HOA) as those entities need to be projecting the reserves needed to ensure the monthly dues or special assessments are adequate to plan for the inevitable long terms costs. In its basic format, a reserve study is a static snap shot.  It is not necessarily a living organism.  As such, it would need to be updated on a regular basis at additional costs to the organization.

Facility Condition Assessment has a component of a “reserve study”, but it is much further reaching.

It is good to know the reserves needed. In fact, it is essential…but it is also critical to understand:

  1. Current overall condition
  2. Guest perceptions
  3. Operational efficiencies
  4. Operational best practices
  5. What could/should be done now
  6. Staffing needs
  7. Deferred maintenance issues
  8. And yes…the life cycle and capital reserve needs

The above items are actually MORE critical than just knowing how much you need in the capital reserve account. Only evaluating the reserves needed is like going to your doctor for a physical and they only check your blood pressure. That is not enough data to determine the overall condition of your body and physical well being.  Same applies with you facility.

Another way to look at this is “context.” It is one thing to know that you have an HVAC unit that has five more years of useful life, but how about some other context such as:

  1. Are the filters clean and being changed regularly?
  2. What are you paying for utilities and does the use of the HVAC system have a role in those costs?
  3. Are your vents and grills dirty which can decrease efficiency and increase a poor first impression to a guest?
  4. Does your facility staff know how to operate the system to maximize comfort and efficiency?
  5. Is the “controls” component of the system the best way to operate?
  6. Are the exterior units unsightly to guests?
  7. Are the condensation lines functioning correctly?

Get my point?  Don’t just settle for a partial assessment.

About the author

Tim Cool is the President and CEO of Smart Church Solutions and takes great pride in helping churches optimize their facilities. When he’s not at the helm of his company, he’s dedicated to his family. An enthusiast of the outdoors, Tim enjoys the simplicity of hiking in the North Carolina mountains.

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