Mastering the Art of Facilities Maintenance

managing time and resources effectively

Conducting a Building Walkthrough

Community Managers, Property Managers and HOA Representatives have a lot on their plate when it comes to the general maintenance and upkeep of a commercial or residential property. One of the ways you can keep up with what’s going on in your property is to conduct regular walkthroughs of your facility. A good walkthrough gives you a fresh perspective to recognize things like: cosmetic and general appearance issues, safety violations, lighting, and mechanical systems. It is also a very good way to build a structure and timeframe around ongoing projects and to-do lists.

When considering cosmetic and general appearance issues, you want to think about how the property might have looked when it was first built. Was that wallpaper peeling in that corner? Was the fabric on that chair in the lobby frayed on the arms like it is now? Was that back door scuffed up from the delivery guy like it is now? These are all obvious examples, but a good walkthrough helps you to see some of the smaller things because it’s the details that customers, unit owners and future prospects notice when they first visit your building.

Safety is a big part of facilities maintenance these days, and we all want to be compliant with local, state, and federal laws concerning public safety. However, even without a lot of training there are actions you can take to keep your building compliant. Some active measures will be to make sure that: ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) entrances and doors are working and in proper order, hallways are free from debris and storage, fire exits are well marked and signs are lit. You also want to know how your emergency systems work, and know what your emergency plan is. No one can know all of the codes and regulations, but common sense can many times keep your building safe.

Lighting plays a key part in many areas of facility operation, including cosmetics and general appearance, safety, as well as energy efficiency. Are all the areas of your building well lit? Do all the buttons on your elevator light up when you push them? Do you have equipment in place to save energy by automatically turning lights off when rooms are not in use? You might want to visit your site in the evening to see if entrances are well lit, or if trees or shrubs obscure lighting.

The mechanical systems in your building deserve attention from your walkthrough as well. Even though you might not be an expert plumber, electrician, or tradesperson, there are still things that you can train yourself to look for. Do you have a written maintenance program? Are mechanical rooms clean and well lit? Are utility closets clean, well lit and secure? What is the difference between your summer operations and winter operations (outside hose bibs, fountain pumps, etc.)? Knowing a little bit about how your building’s mechanical systems work will help circumvent problems in the future.

Finally, you want to have a format for your building walkthrough that provides: the date of the walkthrough, personnel present on the walkthrough, and a detailed list of action items that need to be addressed. You will want to record who is responsible to see that the particular item is addressed, and what your deadline is for determining when the action item will be addressed. Ongoing projects can be updated as you do the walk, and to-do lists should be updated and followed-up frequently. Regular walkthroughs will keep you updated and knowledgeable about the state of your building systems.

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May 26, 2008 Posted by | facilities maintenance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introduction to Facilities Maintenance

Facility Maintenance and Operations can always be a tricky issue for businesses and organizations because it’s always difficult to get people to see the value in maintaining anything. When a computer breaks, we throw it away, when a car breaks down, we buy another one. It has become cheaper and easier to replace things than to repair and maintain them.

The trouble is with a building, you can’t just throw it away when it stops working.  The truth is that facilities, maintenance and operations are a matter of stewardship. We have been entrusted wit h a building and we are called to maintain it- efficiently and effectively and to maximize the resource that having a building gives. Taking care of equipment, changing belts, lubricating motors, changing lights and taking care of the general day to day operations and maintenance in a building are all important parts of the overall business or residence that you are taking care of.

There are three parts to Facilities Maintenance and Operations (or FM&O.)

  1. The first is routine maintenance. These are the things that need to be done weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually to keep the building running efficiently. These items usually include existing HVAC systems, lighting, life safety, plumbing and electrical systems.
  2. The Second is emergency repairs and breakdowns. Managing the FM&O is an effort to minimize the number of times a plumber has to be called, or the number of times the lighting or heating system doesn’t work.
  3. The third part of FM&O is in planning for the future; will a new heating system save money on future gas prices? Will different lighting cost less to operate? Forecasting is usually based on historical costs and known immediate needs.

Being an effective maintenance technician or building maintenance professional means staying on top of code requirements, trends affecting the industry, green initiatives, and many other pieces of the puzzle that keep buildings and facilities running smothly. This blog is dedicated to staying on top of these and other facilities maintenance related issues.

May 25, 2008 Posted by | facilities maintenance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment