Buildings can look equal at first sight. And even equal in price. Yet there are differences that make one building less efficient and effective and more expensive to set up for the intended work processes than another building. The (market) price is the same, but the value for the user is different.
Fitness for use
Comparing two buildings is like comparing apples with oranges: easy to spot the differences at first glance, but difficult to determine which building is the best fit (‘fitness for use’) for a particular user or target group. Usually, the question of whether the user is satisfied with a building is asked afterwards, instead of simulating the consequences of certain accommodation decisions in advance. People evaluating a building often are re-inventing the wheel. They drown in technical details. An accommodation evaluation is useable only when it is related to a description of the needs of the user on the basis of the primary process.
Measurement and control data are an essential part of business operations. As owner/landlord, but certainly, as user/tenant of a building, you want to know to what extent the accommodation meets the intended purpose of use. You are looking for management information like key figures and forecasts.
Therefore, the accommodation consequences must be filtered out of the policy plan or business plan. What kind of work processes is taking place inside the building? What are the requirements for the effective and efficient realisation of these processes? What kind of changes are to be expected in the future? Once the functional accommodation requirements have been determined in this way, they serve as a reference for the accommodation evaluation.
“It is about finding your own balance between effectiveness and efficiency and at the same time also about the balance between the degree of (risk) manageability and the feeling of freedom and involvement for the users of the learn/work environment.”(René Stevens)
For the efficiency test, we use the REN standard method, which has been tested for over 25 years and recently completely renewed, for various types of real estate such as offices, industrial buildings, educational buildings, shops and homes. Since 2014, the Dutch NEN 8021 method (for offices and mainly only the functional aspects) has also been available for mapping and evaluating the desired housing performance by the user and the actual performance of the current or intended accommodation.
Fitness for use is about the needs and requirements of a company as a whole and the individual user requirements of the employees in particular, within the framework of the social preconditions such as legislation, standards and economic criteria like time and money. The environment should support the regeneration and health of our bodies, along with the harmonization of our psyche.
Objective assessment promotes communication
The method used provides an objective assessment of the requested and delivered user performance of various types of buildings in order to achieve and/or improve them. The location and building characteristics are compared in a transparent manner with the wishes and requirements for use. The user requirements of the organisation to be housed are recorded in a user profile together with the relative weight that the user assigns to it and serve as a reference for the extent to which the required performances are actually delivered.
The matching of supply and demand takes place on eight themes.
Together with you, we determine the degree of importance for each of these themes by assigning measurable weighting factors. In this way, insight is quickly gained into the differences between the wishes of the user and potential learn/work environment solutions. It can be used for one building as well as for screening a real estate portfolio of several buildings spread regionally, nationally or even internationally.
Eight assessment themes:
- Attractiveness / Experience.
- Accessibility / Logistics.
- Amenities / Support Services.
- Sustainability / Building Intelligence / Environmental Performance.
- Health / Safety & Security / Well-being.
- Maintenance Management.
- The level of CREM / FM organization.
“If something is better, then it is different in some relevant way.
If it is different in some relevant way, then it is observable.
If it is observable, then it can be counted.”
(Douglas Hubbard’s Clarification Chain)
Making the right choices
The comparisons made with the REN standard enable you to make an objective choice between the possible alternatives. No building will deliver a (permanent) 100% match. The accompanying report explains the possible solutions to close or narrow the gap (mismatch) resulting from the confrontation between supply and demand. The weights that have been assigned to the user’s wishes in advance are leading.
For the efficiency test, the accommodation consequences must be filtered from the policy plan or business plan. What work processes take place in the building, what is needed to do this effectively and efficiently and what is the degree of change that is expected in the near future. What is the desired experience of the people who work in the building?
The accommodation demand of a specific organisation determined in this way serves as a reference for assessing the current accommodation supply, this can be either the building in which one is now housed or alternatives, for fitness for use. Fitness for use is about the wishes and requirements of an organisation as a whole and the individual user requirements of the employees, framed by social preconditions such as laws and standards and economic criteria such as money and time.
Distinction between price and value
With the criterion money, both the operating costs to maintain the property and the facility costs for actual use must be considered. This is more than the usual financial appraisal of real estate. The owner and/or user now not only get a better insight into the financial value but also into the use-value of a real estate object for a specific use or target group. The usual appraisal hardly looks at the value in use, but mainly at the financial side. Such as: What does the market say that the price of a more or less equivalent real estate is or should be.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” (Warren Buffett)
Is the price of real estate equal to the subjective value that the user assigns to it? Is the value of real estate equal to the (market) price? Or in plain language; is the value of real estate equal to what the fool gives for it? As opposed to the Dutch language, the English language makes a distinction between price and value by the use of three different words, value, price and worth.
- Valuating – Process of determining the market price.
- Market price (value) – An estimate of the price the property can fetch on the market at this point in time.
- Price – Actual trade price in the market.
- Valuation -The best estimate of the actual market price by an expert.
- Appraisal – Process of estimating the intrinsic value for an individual or a group of individuals.
- Intrinsic value (worth) – Personal (subjective) estimate of the intrinsic value by the party/parties concerned.
- Added value (value for money) – The independent simulation of the weighing process of the real estate players in determining their intrinsic value.
Only the price exists, as this is the actual amount stated in the rental or purchase agreement. The value of real estate does not exist, because this is an individual and therefore a subjective estimate. The REN method is extremely suitable for making explicit from the perspective of the actual user his desired intrinsic value (fit for purpose) and comparing the buildings on offer.
In the appraisal of the learn/work environment, a balance must be found between the interests of the owner role and the user role. One of the essential differences is the timeframe that is considered. The user is particularly interested in the optimization of his accommodation in the short term. The building must be located in the right geographic location in its market, it must be large enough and have the correct functional, aesthetic and technical quality for its use.
The owner should look much more at the performance of the property in the long term and therefore also consider subsequent users and functions of use. He translates the location, the size of the building and the quality into a price. In addition, the risk of vacancy and achieving the desired return on the capital invested in the property also plays a role for an owner.
In other words, it is about the ratio between intrinsic (use) value and the market price. The net asset value is determined by the individual value criteria of the stakeholder(s) seen from both the occupant’s point of view and the investor’s point of view. The market price is determined on the basis of market criteria, like demand and supply.
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” (Oscar Wilde)
As an organisation, dare to think big, but start small and expand incrementally. Without experimentation, innovation is impossible. Experiment and gradually find out which form and speed of implementation suit the organisation best. Have faith in the process. Like anything new, it takes a bit of trial and error before you get it right, but the payoff is worth it.
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