Engineered Building Maintenance

by John A. Jones
Posted 10/20/2003

How it works:

A team of technical experts will make a thorough review of the building and its operating history. Led by a professional engineer or architect, they will review the original construction plans and specifications, if they are available. Then they will develop a specific reoccurring maintenance program, as well as a cost estimate, for each of the building’s systems and load it on their computers.

Building systems that will be included in the maintenance program include:

1. Structural systems
2. Roofing systems
3. Exterior envelope including windows, caulking, stucco, paint
4. Air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems
5. Elevators and escalators
6. Electrical switchgear, lighting, power distribution, emergency generators
7. Plumbing systems
8. Fire sprinkler systems and pumps
9. General housekeeping and janitorial
10. Pavements and grounds
11. Utilities
12. Swimming pools and other amenities

The EBM management firm, on behalf of the building’s Owner, will negotiate contracts with the outside specialty companies that are required to perform the reoccurring maintenance work. They also will recommend items that can be performed by the Owner’s staff.

At the beginning of each month, the EBM firm’s computers will provide a printout of the scheduled maintenance for the coming month. They will provide the schedule to the building manager and notify the outside specialty contractors of the work that they are to complete.

Each month, an EBM maintenance manager will visit the property. During this visit, the following will be accomplished:

  • They will check to see if the work for the previous month has been completed,
  • Copies of all invoices from the outside specialty contractors will be provided to the Owner for payment, along with a monthly report,
  • The schedule for the next month’s work will be provided to, and coordinated with, the Owner.

Non-reoccurring work:

In addition to reoccurring or scheduled maintenance, occasionally the building will require emergency repairs, equipment replacements, reconfiguration, remodeling, or restoration. An EBM firm must have the qualifications and experience to manage these activities on behalf of the Owner. They will recommend consultants, oversee preparation of permit and bidding documents, and solicit bids for the work. Once construction starts, they will visit the property as required and coordinate the work. They will make recommendations on contractor payments and acceptance of the work. They then will integrate the maintenance of the new work into the building’s reoccurring maintenance schedule.

Capital Replacement Budgeting Service:

Budgets for reoccurring operations and maintenance expenses can be developed simply from maintenance contractors’ bids and from historical cost records. However, capital replacement budgets require special experience and knowledge that most property management firms do not have. Most condominium association by-laws require that the Board of Directors create and maintain capital replacement budgets and funding plans. For example, roof systems, cooling towers, pool equipment, and exterior waterproofing systems have very predictable life spans. Their replacement, and the funds to pay for their replacement, can and should be planned years in advance. A quality EBM firm will provide this service for the building Owner.

EBM contract approach:

A typical contract for EBM services is very simple. There is a one-time setup charge for developing the reoccurring maintenance program. Thereafter, there is a fixed monthly fee for management of the reoccurring maintenance program. Contract duration is negotiable, with 36 months being the recommended length. All specialty contractors and on-site labor are paid directly by the Owner. The EBM firm’s fee for management of non-reoccurring work is calculated as a percentage of the cost, using a sliding scale.

Benefits of EBM:

1. The comfort of knowing that your building has been thoroughly reviewed by expert technicians. The initial report and setup will be signed by a registered professional engineer or architect.

2. Establishment of a permanent record of maintenance and costs. These bring value to the property and protect the Owner’s equity, especially when it comes time to sell the building.

3. A quality EBM firm has a background in building design, engineering, construction, maintenance, and restoration gives them the knowledge of codes, vendors, costs, and consultants that most building Owners don’t have.

4. Bulk buying power, management information systems, and efficiency saves the building Owners money.

5. EBM allows you to concentrate on your business and to not waste time worrying about your building’s maintenance. Just ask yourself the question: What is the most productive use of my time? After you answer this question, then give consideration to contacting an EBM firm for a fee proposal.

©2002 John A. Jones, PE, CBO

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