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FCA vs. PCA: Know what you need. Know what you are buying.

We are often asked what the difference is between a facility condition assessment or FCA and a property condition assessment also known as a PCA. Some clients use the two interchangeably, yet they are two very different services.

Simply put, a FCA is a financially focused review while a PCA is a more technical condition tool. A few other services, including forensic reviews, reserve studies, construction QC checks, are also commonly confused with FCAs and PCAs, so it’s essential to get them straight.

As a client, you should always understand what you are seeking before you commission a service. While PCAs can be focused on more than one building, they are most typically single-building endeavors. On the other hand, FCAs are most frequently conducted on groups of buildings (think campus or portfolio).

The two services can also uncover the same issues yet trigger different outcomes and decisions. For example, a ceiling water-stain found during an FCA will trigger a lower rating on a facility index. That same stain discovered during a PCA will lead to an additional investigation to find the cause of the staining — and the development of a solution to fix it.

At Marx|Okubo, here are three of the most common drivers we have observed for commissioning PCAs and FCAs in today’s marketplace:

Capital planning: One of the main reasons that clients commission an FCA is to do better capital planning related to real estate. A well-conducted FCA will not only reveal the capital needs for a property or group of properties, but can also guide owners in what the best timing is for making key investments to maximize property life and cost efficiency.

Pinpointing issues: Sometimes an FCA can lead to the commissioning of a PCA. That usually happens when an initial FCA exposes an issue (or series of issues) with a building’s condition, and an owner then commissions a detailed PCA to get a better handle on the matter.

Limited resources: Another impetus for an FCA is limited dollars available for maintenance—something that’s unfortunately becoming more and more common. Today public-entity owners are using FCAs to help them laser focus their building resources.

So before you commission an FCA or a PCA, consider what your goals are to ensure you get what you need. Knowing the difference between the two services will make give confidence to your decision-making. If you would like further help understanding the difference, please contact gary_cohn@marxokubo.com