Everything You Need To Know About Building Maintenance

what is building maintenance

Whether we talk about a living or working space, there are two criteria that need to be satisfied at all times – safety and functionality. It is hard to be productive if you brake your arm on a wet staircase, get trapped in an elevator, have constant internet connectivity issues, or have no heating in the middle of winter.

Whether you are working from your apartment, go to an office for a 9 to 5 job, or even visiting a gym on your way home, building maintenance is here to keep those problems at bay.

In this article, we are going to:

  • define building maintenance
  • list common building maintenance tasks and show one way you can categorize them
  • have a short overview of common building maintenance jobs
  • finish up with 4 important tips on how to improve building maintenance and reduce operational costs

What is building maintenance?

Building maintenance encompasses all activities done in order to ensure that a building is a safe environment and that all building systems are working properly.

In other words, the goal of proper building maintenance is to ensure that you are not hit with a broken light cover while going to the bathroom to use a toilet that can flush, and that you’re going back to a properly lit and cooled office where you can make yourself another cup of coffee because you have no electricity issues.

Every asset that is used on a regular basis will deteriorate over time, buildings are no different. For a maintenance team, a building is just a giant machine that needs to be inspected, maintained, and repaired.

What are the common types of building maintenance tasks?

Building maintenance consists of a wide variety of different tasks. While the focus of the maintenance team can vary depending on the purpose of the building or the business that is using it, the core set of tasks that need to be performed stays the same:

  • washing and cleaning different surfaces (bathrooms, floors, windows, handrails, gutters…)
  • maintaining and repairing all assets inside the building (HVACs, elevators, servers, emergency generators…)
  • maintaining and repairing electrical systems, plumbing, and other utility services
  • maintaining and repairing the building itself (doors, windows, walls, roof…)
  • maintaining property outside and around the building (driveways, sidewalk, lawn…)
It is basically everything you need to do for your own house, just on a grander scale.

Besides type, building maintenance work is frequently categorized according to priority, which can look something like this:

  • emergency repairs (tasks that need to be done asap to remove a safety risk, attend to physical damage done to the building, repair a fault that is causing a heavy disruption to one of the utility services)
  • high-priority tasks (tasks that need to be done in a few days so the issues do not turn into a safety or security risk and continue causing a lot of inconvenience for the people inside the building)
  • medium-priority tasks (includes the majority of routine maintenance tasks that are done on a weekly or monthly basis)
  • low-priority tasks (includes maintenance work that can be done months down the line, whenever the resources are available)
  • deferred maintenance tasks (these are often low or medium-priority tasks that are moved to a deferred maintenance backlog because of budget or time constraints)

List of common building maintenance jobs

When you go down the list of tasks we outlined above, it is not hard to extrapolate which building maintenance jobs you need to open to form an in-house building maintenance team.

building maintenance jobs

Here’s a quick overview of common building maintenance jobs:

  • Janitors need to keep the building clean by mopping the floors, taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, washing windows, etc.
  • Maintenance technicians perform routine maintenance tasks, fix and maintain equipment like HVAC, deal with simpler electrical issues, and similar.
  • Facility manager is someone who coordinates all maintenance work, deals with all kinds of administrative tasks, manages renovations, develops a property strategy, enforces EHS standards, and more. If we are talking about a large building or property, facility managers often hire maintenance supervisors to oversee and manage day-to-day maintenance work.
Since the scope of the work is so wide, it is not rare that building owners partner with building maintenance services and outsource some of the maintenance work.

By looking at everything we covered up to this point, it should be intuitively clear that building maintenance is used everywhere – gyms, casinos, zoos, schools, apartments complex, business offices, stadiums, theaters, banks, libraries, etc.

That being said, not every business has to deal directly with building maintenance companies. For example, if you just rent a couple of offices in a large building, your rent will usually cover maintenance services. The maintenance issues that arise will be handled through the facility manager or maintenance supervisor hired by the building owner.

Other industries, like the manufacturing industry for instance, will use the term industrial maintenance to describe their maintenance activities.

How to improve building maintenance and reduce operational costs

I was initially planning to make this into two separate sections on improving maintenance and controlling costs, but there is actually so much overlap between the two that it made more sense to group it together.

#1) Implement a proactive maintenance strategy
Having a proactive maintenance strategy tackles two very important things: it reduces overall maintenance costs and improves safety.

Having important assets on a preventive maintenance plan will reduce your maintenance costs by lowering the number of expensive emergency interventions and by extending useful service life of your assets.

maintenance impact on useful service life

The impact of maintenance on useful service life – Image source

Let’s now switch focus to safety.

You probably know that a building has to follow a whole set of regulations to maintain a certain health and safety standard. Those regulations will require you to perform regular inspections and ensure critical assets and systems are working properly.

The same notion is pushed in this article on EHS Today that states: If regulated materials are present in a building (such as ACM, LCP, contaminated drinking water, etc.), a written Operations and Maintenance program should be developed to reduce EHS liabilities and control costs.

At the end of the day, if you do not follow best practices and do not comply with prescribed guidelines to ensure safety standards, and somebody sues you, you might as well write in those expenses under operational costs.

#2) Control maintenance work with a modern CMMS
A common problem businesses have is controlling their maintenance costs. The main driver of that problem is their inability to accurately track maintenance expenditures. If you do not know where you’re leaking money, how can you close that hole?

With Limble CMMS, you can track which assets are costing you the most, are you reaching set maintenance KPIs, notice if you might have productivity issues, have an in-depth cost comparison for different locations, how many hours are you spending on planned and unplanned maintenance work, and much more.

For maximum productivity gains, you will want to make sure that you implement a mobile CMMS so your employees can use it in the field to access asset history, accurately track things like time spent and spare parts used, and enjoy other perks that come with having a mobile maintenance app.

#3) Negotiate prices with your vendors and service providers
There are many companies you can hire to take care of janitorial services, and there are always specialized companies available that deal with things like complex plumbing and electrical issues. Hiring the first one you find is rarely the most cost-effective option, more so if you plan to have them on-hand for any future emergencies.

Another big problem building and facility managers run into when outsourcing a lot of maintenance work is that they have no idea how to manage outside contractors nor have an easy way to confirm if they are doing the work properly.

One of our clients was a classic example of someone that was hired into a new job where he soon realized that the vendors his predecessor was paying were not even doing the PMs they said they were. That, of course, caused equipment to break more often which further increased the costs!
It was a racket. Luckily, when he brought on Limble, he was able to get the data to figure it out. He ended up switching vendors and his cost to function has dropped drastically.

If you too are concerned because you have little control over work done by third-party vendors, you should know that there are CMMS solutions out there like Limble that let you add outside contractors as a user so they can receive Work Orders through the app and you can track and approve their work. Learn more about Limble’s Vendor Management capabilities here.

Outsourcing aside, there are other ways to reduce costs.

When you need to order spare parts and other supplies, try to negotiate a lower price, especially if you are buying in bulk.

If you are ordering new equipment, evaluate each vendor’s offer based on price, performance record, and quality. As with anything in life, cheaper is not always better. The cheapest asset might be the one you will have to replace sooner, it might require more attention, and it might burn through more spare parts. All of this might not make it the cheapest option in the long-run.

#4) Reduce energy costs
According to a report by theU.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Energy Star certified buildings use 35% less energy than typical buildings nationwide.

That is a lot of money waiting to be saved. How to actually accomplish it? Here are a few things to consider:

Final thoughts

Be it at work or at home, we have all experienced how annoying it is when a certain building system isn’t operating correctly. In a business environment, that is a bigger issue because these kinds of problems can often have a negative impact on productivity.

This is why building owners and facility managers shouldn’t shy away from using all tools at their disposal to stay on top of their and responsibilities and keep the buildings in tip-top shape.

For those that want more info on how Limble CMMS specifically can help them improve their building maintenance efforts, leave a comment below or reach out through our contact form.

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