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It is very common for older buildings to be used for functions that they were never intended for when they were designed. Rather than facing the expense of developing purpose-built premises, many organisations will use an existing building and try to utilise it as best it can, and often the suitability of the building is not a good match.

Functional suitability is very important for service delivery and other success metrics for the organisation. Purpose-built buildings can deliver a wide range of benefits including increased efficiencies, reduced operational costs and lower maintenance requirements.

However, not all businesses have the luxury of being able to build new purpose-built premises and the most cost-effective alternative is to have a Functional Suitability Review completed.

What is a functional suitability review?

A Functional Suitability Review entails an assessment of how suitable a building or department is for the functionality it is being used for. The review can be tailored to the DfES requirements of a ‘Suitability’ or ‘Sufficiency’ audit.

The review is a comprehensive audit of how suitable the building is to support the current functions. The audit will identify improvements that can be made to better support the functionality and the priorities of the service.

Multiple properties can be benchmarked in order of which are most and least suitable for their purpose, aiding strategic decision making. Oakleaf provides a professional Functional Suitability Review service to enable organisations to make vital, cost-saving decisions around building usage to increase efficiencies and adhere to the required standards. The report may recommend moving functions to a more suitable part of the estate, by developing the full picture of what opportunities there are across all buildings on the estate.

We specialise in providing Functional Suitability Reviews for the healthcare industry to help ensure that critical services are not impacted by a building or department being unsuitable for the defined functions. We also provide the service to other sectors, such as education and one of our biggest projects included a review for Cambridge University, covering over 500,000m2 across all University sites and buildings.

What does a Functional Support Review include?

The audit covers three elements:

Internal Space Relationships

This will include a review of details such as:

  • Walking Distance
  • Room Relationships
  • Observation / Supervision
  • Space Provision
  • Security

Support Facilities

Under this section, the experts review:

  • Sanitary Provision
  • Storage
  • Seating/Waiting Provision
  • Disabled Provision


There are several assessments related to location, including:

  • Relationship to Linked Functions
  • Relationship to Parking
  • Access to Public Transport
  • Arrangement of Related Departments
  • Access to Horizontal / Vertical Communication


Once the review is performed, the building suitability specialists will produce a detailed report to explain and record the results and recommendations. Comparisons can be made against nationally recognised guidance documents to compare current standards and expectations.

Sensitivity Analysis

In some cases, it may be a requirement to apply a weighting to the results, to incorporate any local priorities and ‘political answers’. This is something we can easily accommodate, so we can discuss this before we prepare the report.

All the data from the report can be input into all FM software brands, helping you to improve your estate management processes. You can find out more about the benefits of our expert Functional Suitability Review service here.

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