Last edited 24 Sep 2018

How to write a Building User Guide

See also: Building User's Guide.

Contents

[edit] Introduction

The first thing to think about when producing a Building User Guide (BUG) is the layout.

The guide should be kept short and light. The best way of doing this is to use headings, bullet points and pictures/diagrams. It is important to avoid large blocks of text and unnecessary detail.

The guide should be designed for the following user groups (where relevant):

This can be achieved by splitting the guide into individual sections or by splitting topics by user group. To make this simpler topics can be categorised as follows:

  • Just visiting (usually a separate section at the front of the guide).
  • At a glance.
  • In depth.

This enables information to be presented in a way which allows the reader to pick and choose what is relevant to them.

The BREEAM guidance under the New Construction 2011 scheme details what topics the guide should cover. Therefore it is important that your guide, as a minimum, has the following sections:

[edit] Contents page

This should confirm the topics which have been included and on which pages.

[edit] Introduction / How to use the guide

This should provide details about what the guide is for and how it works - if you are splitting the topics by user (see above) then explain what is relevant and to whom.

[edit] Overview of the building and its environmental strategy

This should be kept reasonably short but should include details of how the building works in terms of layout and use. It should also briefly cover information on the buildings environmental strategy (energy, water, waste) and how users should engage deliver this.

[edit] Building services overview and access to controls

This section should be split between building users / visitors and building / facilities management:

[edit] Pre-arrival information for visitors

This section is predominately for visitors, but it is also useful for building users and or managers to know how to deal with visitors. It should include brief details about the visitor management strategy including:

  • Transport: directions, parking and public transport policies.
  • Access: any access issues and signing in.
  • Facilities: details of toilets, showers, canteens, etc.
  • Shared facilities (see below).

[edit] Provision of and access to shared facilities

This section only applies where there are shared facilities within the development but should cover all aspects of how to use the shared facilities as follows:

  • How to book.
  • What is available, to who and when.
  • Access arrangement (in and out of hours).
  • Any other information (costs, available equipment, etc.).

[edit] Safety and emergency information/instructions

This section should be split into user groups and should cover what to do in an emergency (i.e. location of fire muster points, etc.) and also confirm if and when alarms are to be tested. For building managers, it should also include information about fire marshalling, testing and maintenance regimes for emergency systems and emergency contact numbers.

[edit] Operational procedures specific to building type

This section will vary from development to development, but could include special operational procedures for the use of laboratories, controlled spaces or any specialist access arrangements, etc.

[edit] Building related incident reporting and feedback arrangements

This section should include details of how building users report problems to building / facilities management and how they deal with this and or pass it on to the relevant person.

[edit] Building related training information / links

This section should provide details of what building training is available, who delivers it and when. In terms of the building/facilities management, this might include links to specialist outside companies (i.e. for building services operation, etc.).

[edit] Provision of and access to transport facilities

This section should include details of what transport facilities are available, such as:

[edit] Provision of and access to local amenities

This section should provide details of local businesses and services relevant to the building users, such as; cash machines, post boxes, grocery stores, chemists, medical centres etc and details of how find them (location maps, etc.).

[edit] Re-fit, refurbishment and maintenance arrangements / considerations

This section is predominately for building management and should include details about the maintenance and replacement of building services or fabric and also considerations for re-fitting and refurbishment of the development (e.g. the location of services and load bearing walls, etc. as well as access and fire considerations). Again, this section should not be too technical and should refer back to the maintenance guides and O&M manuals.

[edit] Links, references and relevant contact details

This section speaks for itself. However, it is important that it is limited to the relevant sections and isn’t ‘bulked out’ with general websites, etc. which are not directly relevant.

[edit] Building user guide – do’s and don’t’s

The following are some do’s and don’t’s to consider when preparing a guide:

[edit] Do’s

  • Do keep it simple and to the point.
  • Do ensure that all the required topics are covered.
  • Do use headings to differentiate between sections/topics.
  • Do make it relevant to the intended users.
  • Do present it in a way which is accessible to the intended users.

[edit] Don’t’s

  • Don’t copy large sections of manufacturers’ information from the O&M manuals.
  • Don’t include too much block text.
  • Don’t try and cover too much.
  • Don’t assume that something is obvious, but equally don’t patronise.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references