What is building maintenance?
Building maintenance encompasses all maintenance work that ensures a building is safe and presentable, and that all building systems are working correctly.
Building maintenance is what makes a space “livable”. Think of a building as a giant machine with parts that will deteriorate over time. Parts that need to be inspected, maintained, and repaired.
Common types of building maintenance
Building maintenance consists of a wide variety of tasks. A typical day could look like this:
- Washing and cleaning different surfaces (bathrooms, floors, windows, handrails, gutters)
- Maintaining and repairing all assets inside the building (HVAC systems, elevators, servers, emergency generators)
- Maintaining and repairing the building itself (doors, carpentry, windows, walls, roof)
- Maintaining property outside and around the building (landscaping, driveways, sidewalks)
Building maintenance tasks can also be categorized by priority.
- 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
- Medium-priority tasks: Includes most routine maintenance tasks done weekly or monthly.
- 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
Benefits of building maintenance
A poorly maintained building is an accident waiting to happen. It’s not an “if,” it’s a “when” something will happen.
One recent example is the collapse of the Champlain Towers in South Florida in 2021.
- The reinforced concrete structural supports were corroded and damaged due to exposure to water.
- When the tower collapsed, 98 people died, 11 were injured and the resulting property damage came close to over $1 billion.
When costs get cut and essential maintenance gets pushed to the backburner, the results can be tragic. With regular building maintenance, you can improve safety at your facility and easily avoid such tragedies.
It’s much easier to create and maintain a budget around regular upkeep than suddenly finding the money when something breaks (it’s much more cost-effective, too).
A few ways you can plan ahead are:
- Use a CMMS to track asset lifecycle and get alerted when a machine is getting past its useful life.
- Schedule preventive maintenance tasks so they don’t get overlooked and end up costing more to fix than it would have cost to simply maintain.
- Increase productivity to save money. By automating some maintenance tasks like scheduling work for your team, you can increase productivity and get more done in less time.
- Checking for lapses in energy efficiency, like drafts or leaks. And by tracking assets and replacement parts, you can pinpoint where you’re losing money or which assets could benefit from installing more energy-efficient solutions.
Like any machine, without regular inspection and repair, a building and its assets deteriorate. Weak points go unnoticed; daily operations begin to break down.
Think of a leaky pipe that goes unnoticed until it breaks and becomes a deluge, ruining everything in its wake. On the other hand, regular maintenance offers consistent building functionality in the following ways:
- Building components that receive regular attention are less likely to break down and cause outages and disruptions
- Assets that are regularly checked ensure they are up to date and up to code
Regular building maintenance is essential to make sure you stay in compliance with ever-changing building and safety codes, as well as state and federal regulations.
Maintaining spaces is important to eliminate safety risks and reduce your liability risk.
How to improve building maintenance and reduce costs
Here are a few simple ways to start saving big money on building maintenance.
Automate maintenance work with a CMMS
A CMMS can help you automate work order assignments and have those work orders synced to all your devices or team members.
Using a CMMS with a robust mobile CMMS app, means better organization, communication, accountability and productivity.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
It’s important to interview multiple vendors to find the right fit for your business and budget. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with both tenants (like CAM charges) and contractors.
If you lack tools to manage outside contractors or know if they are doing the job correctly, using a CMMS solution like Limble will allow you to add outside contractors as a user so they can receive work orders through the app, allowing you to track the progress of their work.
Reduce energy costs
Another way to save some money is by going green. Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking to become more energy-efficient:
- Appoint an energy director; form an energy team; institute an energy policy
- Implement a building energy management system (BEMS)
- Watch out for energy efficiency when shopping for new assets and equipment
- Perform routine maintenance to keep assets in peak operating condition
- Use available smart and automated building technologies
Building maintenance jobs
Like any other career field, there are different job titles that fall under the building maintenance umbrella.
Janitors keep the building clean by mopping the floors, taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, washing windows, etc. Depending on the situation, companies may benefit by outsourcing janitorial services than to retain the staff internally.
A maintenance technician’s job is to perform routine maintenance tasks, fix and maintain equipment like HVAC systems, deal with simpler electrical issues such as fixing light bulbs, roofing, and similar. Tasks can vary widely, from simple “handyman” fixes to more specialized work.
Facility managers coordinate all maintenance work, deal with administrative tasks, manage renovations, develop a property strategy, enforce EHS standards, and more.
Facility managers oversee all building maintenance services (tasks that make a space comfortable and functional like pest control) as well as facilities maintenance (tasks that keep building systems running like air conditioning, electrical systems, plumbing, etc.)
Some companies outsource their maintenance work when the scope of work is too big. Think landscaping, snow removal, specialized jobs for an electrician, etc.
Certifications and training for building maintenance professionals
Ongoing training is important to keep your skills sharp and ensure you’re always in compliance with ever-changing rules and regulations.
Some standard certifications/training programs are:
- HVAC Certification: The National Association of Home Builders and the Associated Builders and Contractors offer apprenticeships that help maintenance workers earn HVAC certification.
- Building Systems Maintenance Certification: This covers plumbing, HVAC systems, water treatment, and efficient energy management. BOMI International awards the certification.
- Building Operator Certification: This includes two levels of maintenance training for building operators. This certification covers HVAC, control point management, electrical distribution, and energy management.
- Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician: This is an entry-level certification. The CMRP assessment test covers both predictive/preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance.
Staying up to date in building maintenance
To stay up to date and in compliance, joining a trade organization or subscribing to industry news publications can be invaluable. Here are a few helpful resources.
- International Facilities Management Association: IFMA is the largest association for facility management professionals.
- Association for Facilities Engineering: AFE is a professional organization that provides resources for all professionals working in the “built environment.”
- Facilities Management Institute: The FMI governs the evolving criteria for the facilities management career track. Its mission is to promote and accelerate the development of the facilities management profession across both public and private sectors.
The hero of building maintenance
Being responsible for maintaining an entire building and everything in it can be a daunting task. To make your job easier on yourself, don’t hesitate to use all the tools at your disposal.
There are plenty of resources available to help you stay on top of your responsibilities and keep the buildings in tip-top shape. Our pros here at Limble can help you make building maintenance easier and more efficient by adding a CMMS. Contact us today to get started.