Planning for the Future – Long Term Maintenance Plan

Most maintenance in NZ is left to the caretaker or facilities manager of a building who may be primarily employed in a ‘handy man’ role. Maintenance is expensive, and in the wrong hands could lead to high cost and very little improvement to a building. Maintenance should be planned, and a budget established and laid out, to ensure the costs are known, programmed and executed in a cost effective manner.

Planning maintenance through regular inspection of buildings is nothing new. Good maintenance is about good planning and adopting an integral approach, which is integrated with the function of the building, so that agreed goals can be achieved through the implementation of planned maintenance programme.

To prepare a planned maintenance programme requires a Condition Survey which is, a collection of data about the condition of a building, part of a building, estate or portfolio, assessing how that condition compares to a predetermined standard, to identify any actions necessary to achieve that standard now, and maintain it there over a specified period of time, the purpose being to support management decisions making.

A Registered Building Surveyor is the most appropriate professional to carry out a condition survey and to prepare a planned maintenance Programme, as they have extensive knowledge of material failure, weathertightness, life cycle costing and can design and manage the most effective repair methods.

All materials have a limited life span and when that life span is exceeded the material is unlikely to perform. In buildings, this is likely to allow water entry into the framing space and result in raised moist content levels of structural materials, corrosion of metals, timber decay or concrete spalling.

Water leaks in building in NZ has become a multi million-dollar problem, and regular inspection of materials, cladding systems etc is a requirement of every building to enable identification of these problems before they become an issue. Planned maintenance is far cheaper than reactive maintenance and causes less disruption to the function of an organization, or buildings occupants.

Most organisations only deal with ‘reactive’ maintenance, a basic example is changing a light bulb, but if that light bulb is 10 meters high and requires scaffolding to replace one bulb, it is more cost effective to plan to replace all the bulbs at once, rather than pay for erecting / dismantling the scaffolding each time a bulb requires replacement. Replacement of a poorly formed gutter which is likely to leak, is far cheaper than replacing a gutter which has leaked, allowing water to track through to the wall framing below and resulted in timber decay to framing, which requires removal of wall cladding, replacement of linings etc.

Registered Building Surveyors are usually asked to inspect when the owners / occupiers identify a problem, but they are trained to identify potential building faults, which can be dealt with before they cause damage, in an organized manner and with minimal disruption to the function of the building. By planning for the future it creates a greater understanding of potential or future maintenance costs and prevents the shock element when unexpected building failures stop or reduce the running of a building or facility.

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