Staying on top of Preventive Maintenance
Performing routine building inspections and maintenance on a regular basis can help you avoid unnecessary headaches. Setting a consistent, ongoing schedule is the first step.
Create and maintain an “inventory” that describes each building component fully. This should include the manufacturer, location within the property, details about purchase and existing warranties, and, if applicable, operating procedures. The inventory should also state where to obtain needed parts and service, and contain a summary of all repairs and/or replacements. This schedule will help management quickly assess the condition of fixed assets and help transition the task if a new person is put in charge of repairs and maintenance.
Start with the exterior of your building. Check the foundation walls (including waterproofing) and window seals (repairs and possible replacements). Inspect the fasciae and soffits, and take a look at the condition of the exterior painting. Finally, review the grading and drainage around the building.
To ensure that your maintenance program covers all the bases, regularly inspect every piece of equipment on each property. This includes elevators, HVAC systems, pumps and motors. Be sure to include structural components, such as roofs and supports.
Interior “hotspots” that deserve attention include moisture control systems, drywall installation and repair, mechanical systems, plumbing and electrical repairs. Finally, check on the conditions of the interior painting, and wear and tear of any carpeting, noting possible replacement.
Schedule inspections and repairs
Determine the types of inspections and preventive maintenance that should be performed on each piece of equipment and structural component. Note how frequently these tasks should be done. You’ll need to check some maintenance items weekly, while you can inspect others less often. Program routine maintenance reminders into an electronic calendar — or write them in a day planner — to stay on schedule.
For equipment items, develop a schedule that outlines when each item needs to be cleaned, lubricated, serviced or overhauled. Keep a list of spare parts that should be kept on hand. For structural items, add a “to-do” list for periodic inspections related to painting, patching or similar maintenance issues.
Work with your property manager and maintenance supervisor to develop a realistic schedule for needed tasks. Create a formal schedule for fixed asset repair and maintenance, and assign your property manager to update this schedule. Create checklists that facilitate daily, weekly, monthly or even seasonal reports. Then implement a system for issuing work orders and monitoring task completion.
Assess how much time the preventive maintenance program will require and develop cost estimates that are realistic for both the budget and level of work involved. In some cases, it may be cheaper to replace an outdated asset, rather than maintain it.
For example, many older buildings use old electrical or plumbing systems that might be expensive to maintain. You may be able to reduce monthly utility bills by replacing the entire system. Moreover, equipment will likely last longer, deferring replacement costs, and major equipment breakdowns will be less frequent.
The building owner might also benefit from a tax credit for energy-saving equipment, together with increased depreciation write-offs, in the event of an equipment upgrade. But before you start upgrading, evaluate whether the financial benefits of the upgrades, over the long term, outweigh the costs.
Maintaining accurate records will help determine whether you can save time, money — or both — by simply performing certain maintenance activities less frequently, or whether certain items should be inspected more often. Keeping good records can also help verify whether maintenance personnel are performing needed tasks to your satisfaction.
When was the last time you performed regular maintenance of your buildings? If you don’t already have a regular maintenance schedule, now is the time to start one.