Buddha once said, “Things are not as they seem. Nor are they otherwise.” Every facility – new and old – has deficiencies. A new building will likely appear better than an older building with its new materials and painted surfaces, but no matter how new the facility, there are always items of note.

It’s generally assumed that a recently constructed facility will be in excellent condition and free from defects, but even new buildings can have significant deficiencies. In fact, the issues are often more subtle and more difficult to identify.

Recently constructed buildings are frequently more challenging to evaluate than older structures, since the defects and deficiencies have not yet become obvious.

There may be hairline cracks in the concrete resulting from initial shrinkage during the curing of the concrete, but there might not have been adequate time elapsed to fully decipher their implications.

New buildings may have non-compliant Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) components, even though construction was approved by the local building department and the building was granted a Certificate of Occupancy.

Buildings constructed many years ago will have experienced typical post-construction settlement and wear. Building envelope components will have experienced repeated climate cycles. Interior finishes will have experienced deterioration due to occupancy and tenant use. Older buildings will tell you a great deal about their condition, history, and likely future.

New buildings haven’t had much time yet to begin telling their story. Patterns in component use and performance are not yet established in new construction. That’s when the evaluator’s experience and expertise come into play – to determine whether or not the conditions at the property are as they seem.


~This post was excerpted from Chuck’s book Zen and the Art of Facility Assessments published in 2014.