Commercial Building Maintenance – Avoiding nightmares and mistakes
Owning your own property is a proud milestone for any business owner. Maintaining a building can feel overwhelming. When it comes to commercial building maintenance, knowing what to worry about, and when, will help you to protect your investment from decay due to lack of upkeep. Routine maintenance can also help reduce overhead costs, such as electrical and HVAC expenses.
How can you prevent your building from becoming a scary place in the neighborhood??? By planning ahead for routine building maintenance!
Preventative and routine maintenance should be tasks that are incorporated into a regular, recurring plan. Such items can be performed by several independent companies, or provided by one company that specializes in “property maintenance”. Bundling the services is more convenient, but make sure it is clearly stated what services are provided and ask specific questions, such as:
Will there be on-going inspections with feedback of any additional care needed, such as a broken window, water stains, leaky irrigation pipe, etc.?
Will there be any annual inspections to specifically address areas covered, or not, by the maintenance agreement, such as inspecting the smoke detectors?
In the Midwest and Northeast, discuss the amount of de-icer to be used on your sidewalks… Your insurance agent and attorney will tell you to “pile it on”, but your concrete company will tell you “use it SPARSELY”. Discuss the amount of de-icer used with whoever is providing your snow removal. You may find that companies often over apply the product so they don’t receive a call to return and add more. Finding a balance is often hard - you may ask the snow removal company to “lightly salt the walks” and then place a container of de-icer by each door so that you can apply more as needed. Magnesium chloride has become popular as it melts ice below zero and is less damaging to sidewalks (bonus, it’s plant and pet safe!), and seems to work best at very cold temperatures. Also, consider using sand to give traction to the ice, especially on cold days when melting just won’t happen.
In areas that rely on salt to remove ice, pay special attention to the integrity of your sidewalks in the spring. Watch for lifting, chipping, pitting and separating, which may indicate the need for caulking, repair, or replacement.
Preventative and Routine maintenance includes:
- Janitorial Services
- Window Cleaning & repair
- Parking Lot & Sidewalk maintenance
- Snow Removal
- Floor Care
- Pest control
Additional areas of maintenance that building owners don’t always consider, include:
If you hire a property maintenance company to handle recurring items, make sure you don’t overlook the items you don’t have a maintenance contract for. Any of the above that are neglected can slowly lead to a BIG problem, for example:
Concrete blocks require a sealant or paint to prevent moisture from leaking from the outside. As blocks weather, sealants and paint begin to wear thin and become less effective. Moisture from rain, snow or humidity can enter the blocks and expand when temperatures become hot, or below freezing. As the blocks expand and contract, the integrity is compromised and eventually the blocks will begin to crack, chip or slough off. When this occurs you are now allowing for even more moisture to enter and for the process to accelerate. It’s not uncommon to find a random weed growing from the blocks of a building that has been neglected!
Additionally, moisture can leak into the building causing water damage and/or structural issues. A good coat of paint applied before an issue is noticed is your best line of defense, along with having gutters that function properly.
The worst advice ever about Commercial Building Maintenance is the advice you are NOT given; Plan ahead, and budget for routine and unexpected building maintenance and emergencies!
Download our complete suggested maintenance list here:
Buildings.com provides their own detailed list of suggested maintenance and inspections.
Image sources: Scary building by L.C. Nøttaasen, via Creative Commons license; Winter sidewalk de-icing by BU Interactive News, under Creative Commons license; and Commercial Box Gutter - via wikipedia