The office building is like any other structure – it needs care and attention to stay functional and keep its occupants safe and protected from the outside weather conditions and pollutants. But besides the safety measures and regular maintenance, you also need to make sure that it looks presentable to your clients and leaves a good impression. All this is a comprehensive work and requires resources for its realization, which sometimes can be expensive if you don’t perform scheduled and regular tasks to keep it in top position.
Maintenance is a very important phenomenon where commercial buildings are concerned, and it is because proper maintenance helps to preserve the essence and market value of your buildings. Have you ever seen a poorly maintained building or buildings? Do they look like properties you would like to invest in? The failure to maintain and preserve a commercial not only spells doom but makes the building unattractive to potential tenants; in fact, it is a complete turn-off.
This article aims to examine the advantages of commercial building maintenance, the modes of maintaining a commercial building vis-a-viz the ways you can maintain your commercial buildings. It certainly is a ride that’ll be worth your time!
We have a wide range of property maintenance Melbourne services at Hitch Property Constructions.
Ways to Maintain Your Buildings
Remain in Operational Configuration.
Occupied buildings and critical facilities such as research, healthcare, and museums should remain in operational configuration. The assets contained in these buildings and their critical purposes drive the need for continued environmental control.
Revise Building Schedules.
In unused non-critical facilities, for example, a technical college or university classroom building, consider revising the building schedule in the BMS system so that the mechanical equipment is operated intermittently to maintain indoor environmental quality, but not to condition empty spaces to occupied conditions. Running the mechanical equipment for an hour or two at a time, twice a day could be a strategy to consider. Peak cooling and equivalent 12-hour heating load could be managed. Indoor humidity would be reduced, and fresh air would be introduced in the building to inhibit microbial growth and prevent the potential buildup of contaminants. Every facility is different, and each may have a unique strategy.
Revisit Kitchen Schedules.
In facilities where kitchens are being used sparingly, consider restricting the use of makeup air units and exhaust fans only to times when food preparation is occurring. If the kitchen is not being used at all, consider shutting down the kitchen makeup air units and exhaust fans until the kitchen becomes operational, especially where makeup air heating is in place.
Reset Chilled Water Temperatures.
If using chilled water for cooling, consider resetting the chilled water supply temperature slightly higher while the building is unoccupied. The system is designed to account for sensible and latent heat rejection produced by occupants of the building during the peak summer months. Without occupants in the cooler spring season, building cooling loads are lower, requiring less heat rejection.
Focus Your Maintenance.
Focus maintenance efforts on the critical needs or critical spaces that need to remain operational for your mission. Realize that some maintenance items, such as a roof leak, do not have an automated means to detect them. An occupant usually reports those.
Turn a Negative into a Positive.
The situation now is far from ideal, but it may be possible to turn this challenging situation into a positive opportunity. Evaluate whether a planned renovation or upgrade project can be performed earlier for those buildings or spaces that aren’t currently in use. A renovation project that was previously planned for the summer could potentially be pulled forward in anticipation that space could be needed in the summer.
Hire security and secure the access points to the building
Suppose you have a lot of employees and clients using the building than you must use some security measures to keep intruders or people without appointment away. These measures may feel like going overboard, but keeping track of who goes in and out of the building is beneficial for several reasons. First of all, you will keep all the occupants inside safe, and then you will make sure that the company’s property is not taken out of the premises without permission. Lastly, you will ensure that only authorized personnel to have access to the building and its adjoining property. This will prevent to the best of your ability any criminal acts and conducts from happening and endangering the people, equipment and structure in your care.
Use high-quality materials for the exterior and interior.
When you work on adapting the building to your liking and needs, always use the best high-quality materials available on the market, and this should also be applied when you do the construction of your structure for business purposes. The quality of the material will prevent any fast deterioration and maintain your building in excellent condition during all seasons and weathers. If one crack on the façade appears, rest assured that the others will follow. This means that you should act immediately to repair and fix all observed problems on the exterior, but also to make sure that it didn’t spread to the interior structure or that it didn’t start to develop its problems.
Perform regular HVAC and elevator maintenance
An HVAC system is the blessing for big office buildings, and it’s impossible to imagine any business structure without it. Its purpose is to maintain the optimal working conditions at all times with cooling and to heat the inside air and to keep it clean for the building occupants. It suffices to say then how many problems can neglect the HVAC system create the worst being health problems like Legionnaires’ disease – a very serious respiratory condition similar to pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila.
Also, elevators can be a liability too, but not in a sense that one can detach and fall, like in the movies – since that rarely ever happens. Getting stuck can be frustrating and not to mention harmful to those with heart conditions and anxiety disorder. Another noteworthy aspect is that damaged elevators don’t leave a positive image of your company when you have clients or partners visiting the building, so schedule regular checks and repairs to avoid this kind of inconveniences.
Check the sealants on windows and doors.
To make sure that the building is protected from the outside weather, make sure you have handymen checking all the sealants on the windows and doors. This way you will constantly be an energy-efficient building which is good for the environment and your utility bill. Proper sealants make sure that you are not losing heat through the window and door frames, and they also protect you from moisture condensing on the walls and creating mould and damaging the inner structure. Sealants are easy to apply and don’t take long, so you can schedule the repairs after work hours or early before the employees arrive.
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Hire cleaning services
The people occupying the building – your employees, visitors, clients and all other persons who are there on some business leave rubbish behind. That’s unavoidable, and because of that, it’s the matter which requires being addressed daily. The only appropriate solution for a company is to hire a cleaning agency to maintain the hygienic conditions at the highest levels, as well as to tidy the place up after employees leave and return everything in perfect order. That way, you will always have a decluttered and organized office space providing civilized working conditions for your employees and in return, gaining a productive and dedicated collective.
Keep roof and gutters free of debris.
Roof and gutters are a very important part of any building since they provide protection from the constant effects of the environment. But clogged gutters and leaky roofs are a big problem and can cause a lot of problems for the building and the company. Damages enabling water to enter the building’s walls can create short circuits and electrical fires, which can at best stop the business for a certain period of time, and at worst cause life-threatening situations.
Regular cleaning of the gutters and checks of the roof surface can prevent this, as well as quick reaction time to any observed leakage or damage on the interior of the building. Hiring companies like ASAP Sydney Painters to perform paint job will both keep your roof in good shape and also refresh the look of your building.
Life-Cycle Costing and Standardization
Several factors in the design process do not necessarily complement each other: budgets and timetables to meet, customers to satisfy, reputations to be maintained, and myriad other requirements. In the design and construction stages, where budgets are sometimes strained, value engineering is often used. Value engineering, at one time, used to refer to design with long-term costs taken into account; recently, however, it appears that value engineering refers to simply cutting costs.
Life-cycle costing is a more inclusive method of determining costs and can influence design decisions to minimize the total expense over the lifetime of the facility. It is the amortized annual cost of a product (in this case, a building) that includes capital costs, installation costs, and operation and maintenance costs over its life. Maintenance costs alone over the life of the facility will be significant, as will the cost of operation (energy and personnel). Using this method will provide valuable input into the process, especially for the customer/owner who will be responsible for the costs throughout the life of a facility.
Building maintenance professionals often try to use standardization as a method of using “tried-and-true” products to save long-term dollars for the organization and standardizing on a product, where logical and cost-effective, reduces the number of product lines inventoried and purchased. Standardization can include many items, such as an equipment manufacturer selected for quality of the product, repair response times, and local parts availability; manual maintenance requirements; online maintenance manuals; and many other items that are important to the organization. Some items for standardization include HVAC equipment, pumps, fans, switches/receptacles, circuit breakers, paint type and colour standardization, restroom fixtures, flooring, lighting fixtures and lamps, doors and door hardware, roofing slopes (try to eliminate flat roofs) and materials, and many other items found to be ideal that are important to the longevity of the building. Standardization can result in lower inventory costs, reduced training needs, and less need for multiple maintenance procedures. The overall effect is a facility that is easier and less costly to maintain. This is not to say that the customer and maintenance staff will not be open to new and improved products and ideas, but these new items should have a good track record and should be supported with life-cycle costing. Granted, all this has to fall in line with a budget, but long-term costing can be a tremendous influence – even though initial costs may be higher than anticipated. It is imperative that standardization be discussed early with the architect/designer.
Why Buildings Fail
As facilities are completed, the owner’s maintenance responsibilities increase. (And, even though the need for maintenance services increases with the addition of new buildings, for many government agencies, manpower and budgets have often been frozen or reduced, compounding the problem.) It is not the responsibility of the architect/designer to maintain the facility, and this aspect may not be fully considered during the design process.
When decisions are made regarding design without the maintenance perspective, it can often lead to a facility that is more costly to maintain than necessary, or that has components that cannot be maintained. Following are some examples:
- Ceiling lights installed that can only be accessed and changed out with scaffolding, requiring the closure of the entrance to a facility for a week.
- An air-conditioning unit installed above a drop ceiling in a restroom or office area with no room for a ladder to be properly set up. The technician can only access the unit if he or she stands on the restroom or office partition (not a good safety practice). The result: The unit will not be properly maintained and may need to be relocated.
- Lights installed in new buildings that are not accessible at all; ultimately, these will be abandoned when the lamps fail.
- Lights requiring an access panel to be cut into existing walls to access ballasts.
- High-cost, custom lighting fixtures/lamps installed in parking garages. As they fail, these will be replaced with lower-cost fixtures.
- Rooftop air-conditioning units with no elevator access to bring chemicals to the units (even small chemical containers weigh 50 pounds). A technician must carry chemicals up to the equipment (not a good practice for back safety).
- Trees planted very close to new buildings. This is a common problem, which results in clogged downspouts during the rainy season and will lead to premature roofing failure.
- Lack of enough telephone outlets, electrical outlets, and computer outlets/cables. It is far less expensive to install extra equipment when a building is being built than to add equipment after the building is in service. This often leads to exposed wiring, holes in finishes, and other degradations of a building’s aesthetics.
- It is installing inferior-quality components to save up-front money. Carpet is a good example. For a small initial cost increase, the long-term cost is reduced dramatically. There are carpets that can be installed with 20- to 25-year non-prorated warranties.
- Installing a large glass architectural structure in front of a new building, which then requires the purchase of a $1 million piece of equipment to facilitate cleaning the glass.
- Installing exterior “uplights” (lights installed flat in concrete or the ground), which inherently fail due to moisture getting into the fixtures.
- Equipment installed easily during construction that is nearly inaccessible after final walls and other appurtenances are completed.
- Installation of high-maintenance security systems.
- High-maintenance equipment installed with no local vendor support.
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Helping Buildings Succeed
Given the maintenance issues that arise, what can be done to make our facilities more maintainable and, thus, less costly to operate during the building life? Consider the following:
- There must be meaningful dialogue between engineers, architects, designers, customers, maintenance personnel, and, eventually, contractors when the job is awarded. The dialogue must start at the first meeting and carry throughout the project.
- Just as the architectural or engineering firm uses its staff for quality control or a contractor for constructability review, the in-house maintenance group should also be considered a resource for design review. This group can point out items that may lead to long-term maintenance issues or increased maintenance costs.
- One valuable input to the opening meetings and throughout the design process is the maintenance standards for the organization.
- There must be close interaction throughout the design and construction phases, including input to and review of design drawings and specifications by maintenance personnel. Some organizations now assign knowledgeable maintenance professional to be part of the design and build the team and reduce the routine maintenance burden on this individual during the project period – an excellent idea. In other organizations, maintenance staff will need to negotiate their involvement in the project.
- Adequate time must be allowed for review of documents. Maintenance professionals need to assert the importance of their input to the organization and then schedule an adequate time so the reviews are meaningful and input is well thought out. By being involved from the first meeting on, maintenance staff can avoid last-minute reviews, which allow only a cursory review instead of the necessary in-depth reviews they deserve. After all, these decisions affect the maintenance workload and the agency’s operational costs for decades to come.
- There is no doubt that everyone in the design and build process has the same goal in mind: to build an attractive and functional facility that is pleasing for everyone to occupy and use. The final step is also to consider the maintenance requirements to keep it that way.
In essence, the regular import maintenance would have on your property is not a mild one. Have you ever thought about the fact that no one is willing to take on that your commercial building space because the parking lot looks bushy and the walkway looks unkempt? Add more value to your property, do more maintenance, and you will be amazed at how fast the property would leave the market.
Treat your office building with respect and take care of it just like you would your own home. Since every employee and other persons occupying that building are your responsibility, you have to ensure that they perform their duties and tasks in a safe and healthy environment. And if you start maintenance and care of the building early on, you will have fewer problems to take care of later, and so lower expenses for repairs and renovations.