Let’s first start by properly defining building maintenance services.
In this context, maintenance – sometimes also referred to as engineering services – involves the act of maintaining types of property and equipment by delivering the highest level of service and professionalism.
The United States Bureau of Labor estimates that more than 1.4 million Americans are employed as maintenance or repair workers.
These include maintenance technicians, maintenance supervisors, chief engineers, and other facility management professionals that perform a variety of services for business operations.
What are Building Maintenance Services?
The variety of tasks involved in building maintenance include conducting inspections, undertaking urgent repairs, responding to staff or tenant requests, and performing general building maintenance functions.
Facilities maintenance services are performed by an in-house maintenance team, or by an outsourced commercial maintenance company.
The goals typically include cost-effective service excellence and consistency in preventative maintenance to achieve comfort and safety for employees, tenants, and visitors.
Building maintenance and engineering services often involve heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing, electrical, and general repairs.
Maintenance techs are trained and may have system maintenance certifications and operator certifications.
Many begin by working apprenticeships and look for growth opportunities for a smooth transition to becoming maintenance industry leaders.
Maintenance technicians operate in potentially hazardous conditions requiring adherence to industry best practices and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
This industry work requires attention to detail, adopting innovations, maintaining excellent documentation, and following manufacturer specifications.
Seasoned facility managers and maintenance professionals know the importance of customizing their plans according to their own goals and property needs.
Commercial environments have vastly different purposes, are subject to various conditions, and contain a host of various equipment and systems.
What Are Some of the Services Provided by Building Maintenance Companies?
Many different areas require engineering or maintenance functions in commercial buildings.
The building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system require maintenance to keep the equipment operating efficiently and reliably.
Employees, tenants, visitors, and other building occupants also depend on the HVAC system for comfort and indoor air quality.
Potential signs of problems include insufficient heating or cooling levels, and unplanned breakdowns requiring extended repairs.
HVAC units typically having filters that must be inspected and/or replaced at some regular intervals.
Complex central-plant equipment includes chillers, cooling towers, and associated systems that require as-needed repairs and ongoing preventive maintenance performed.
Electrical maintenance tasks may vary from relatively minor repairs to those that can be more involved and require an electrician.
Burned-out lightbulbs and ballasts are among the most basic service calls.
Another common problem is when the circuit breakers are tripping, which suggests excessive energy draw is causing an overload.
A new circuit might be necessary based on research.
Major components of the facility or property’s electrical distribution system also warrant attention and, where necessary, repair.
Examples include transformers, main switchgear, and emergency generator backup.
Most commercial buildings today have multi-faceted fire prevention and suppression systems.
Sensors are often tied into a central annunciator or alarm panel.
The building engineering or maintenance department is often responsible for coordinating timely testing, inspection, and possible maintenance or replacement of components, such as smoke detectors.
The fire alarm system will generally have audible alerts, such as horns, and visible emergency strobe lighting.
The fire suppression system typically involves a system of sprinklers that work with a water supply and pumps for high-rise properties.
Other components needing routine inspection include fire extinguishers.
The maintenance staff is also typically responsible for inspecting and testing all exterior and interior emergency lights and exit sign lights.
Plumbing services high-usage areas such as kitchens or break rooms, as well as restroom facilities.
Engineering is often called up to clear blockages in drain lines and replace hardware components such as faucets and even inoperable toilets.
In vertical commercial facilities or properties, maintenance is also required on domestic water pumps.
Why is Building Maintenance Important?
Building maintenance or engineering professionals strive to maintain overall facility safety.
The condition of buildings and the equipment within tends to decline over the years and overall efficiency can erode.
If building and equipment maintenance is deferred, the systems and equipment can be more prone to failure, raise potential liability, require additional manpower to maintain, reduce efficiency and increase utility consumption.
These factors could increase operating expenses and reduce staff and tenant satisfaction.
This is important for reducing the likelihood that small problems develop into much more significant and costly ones.
Building maintenance is a critical aspect of facility management and commercial operations regardless of the industry.
While all commercial facilities and properties have building maintenance requirements, the nature of the work varies considerably.
Effective building maintenance is based on creating a plan, initial and ongoing training, and leveraging new technologies.
These three keys are all dependent on one another, such as how incorporating new technology requires retraining and acquiring knowledge.
When these shifts occur, it could change the overall plans or processes within your larger facility maintenance program.
Regardless of whether the maintenance services are performed by in-house staff or a third-party provider, they are critical.
The leading reasons include the health and safety of occupants, preventing major costly repairs, and maintaining a good appearance.
In a large commercial environment, the nature of the repair and maintenance functions can require extensive training and certification.
Minimizing potential liability, for example, can also be crucial to utilize a specialized contractor to perform testing, repairs, and upgrades.
For example, those who perform service and repair work on electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems must have proper training and experience.
Usage of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a must.
Building Maintenance Services: Types of Properties
The overall maintenance plan, as discussed, is partly developed based on the type of physical plant.
We will look at several commercial asset types, which have unique systems and requirements.
Properties deemed as public facilities are typically funded in some part by the local, state, or federal government.
Examples may include public libraries, medical clinics, educational institutions, and transportation projects.
Schools are among the most populated public settings that have often very extensive maintenance requirements due to the nature of occupancy and standard of care guidelines.
Buildings categorized as being industrial are often very expansive and have exterior points of entry for shipping and receiving.
They commonly have elaborate HVAC systems, systems of electrical distribution, and may have a refrigerated area.
Manufacturing activity is commonly performed or various types of light industrial work.
Industrial venues often have large warehouse areas where goods are stored and prepared for distribution.
These buildings may be multi-purpose or flexible, such as with an attached office space.
Commercial Office Buildings
These commercial assets typically are multi-tenant properties designed to provide the needs of business users during normal business hours.
Commercial office buildings range from high-rise structures in a central business district to low-density projects – often in a cluster or office park setting – in the suburbs.
This property segment generally includes elevators, parking structures, and a need for efficient climate control.
New construction build-outs to accommodate new tenancy is common.
Whether this type of commercial property is a clinic, medical office building, or hospital, the needs are similar.
Redundancy of critical systems is key.
Hospitals have maintenance staff on-site 24 hours a day.
Larger backup generators are required to support patient services, including surgical procedures.
Responding to emergencies, including natural disasters and fire alarms requires the full attention and ongoing training of maintenance departments.
Retail properties can range from large regional-type malls, neighborhood centers, or smaller strip projects.
These properties are typically open longer hours than other commercial real estate assets.
Tenants are almost always responsible for maintenance repairs within their premises.
HVAC systems can range from large central-plant systems to individual package units servicing individual tenants.
Back-up or auxiliary lighting systems are important due to the nature of occupancy.
Preventative building maintenance is a critical function that often involves routine service or repair tasks to components or equipment.
A facility or building maintenance program can be described as the summary or overview of all required activities.
It will contain all preventative maintenance tasks and actions needed for the upkeep of the equipment and systems within a facility or property.
The preventive maintenance schedule serves to guide the facility maintenance team regarding the tasks to perform and the frequency of these actions.
The preventive maintenance schedule contains details of when equipment need filter changes, testing, or other maintenance service or inspection.
Failures in adherence may create downtime, cause costly components to fail, and potentially create safety concerns.
The preventive maintenance program is comparable to a template that details the activity necessary for maintaining optimal order and energy efficiency and to maximize the useful life of costly equipment.
Tasks are commonly grouped according to separate lists for daily, monthly, quarterly, and other intervals of time.
Work orders are typically generated describing the specific preventive maintenance task required.
Outsourced Building Maintenance Services
What do third-party companies that offer engineering and facility maintenance services do?
While a building engineering or maintenance company can provide dozens of customized service options, the provider should offer those specifically needed to meet the property and client objectives.
Regardless of the mix of tasks and responsibilities provided, some basic business goals and results are always emphasized.
Cost-efficiency is often amongst the most desired goals that facility chief engineers and maintenance managers hope to achieve.
One reason why the third-party provider can often lower costs as a result of leveraging economies of scale.
For example, when these organizations increase their client base, they will typically buy supplies and equipment at reduced bulk rates.
They can also utilize specialized, costly equipment amongst their portfolio.
Enhancing the completion of time-sensitive projects or property initiatives is among the other primary goals of outsourced facilities firms.
Facility management companies specialize in a somewhat narrow set of operational functions and tend to become very efficient at executing them.
Temporary deployment of additional staff is another common advantage.
Facility management professionals commonly experience heightened productivity by having more time to dedicate to their core functions and competencies.
These individuals streamline their duties and areas of concern, freeing up significant time for key operational goals.
Choosing A Building Maintenance Company
Choosing an outsourced provider of engineering or building maintenance services requires diligence.
You should seek recommendations from colleagues or members of professional organizations or associations.
Meet with several companies to assess their experience and the extent of their capabilities.
Ask the providers for references consisting of organizations they have had a past working relationship with.
Confirm that the company is properly licensed, as applicable, and fully insured. Inquire about their availability for responding to after-hours emergencies and large-scale ad-hoc projects.
Choosing the right maintenance provider for your building requires considering other factors including the following:
- Staff Training: the chief engineers and technician staff should have ongoing training on industry standards and property-specific equipment
- Safety: a critical component of any maintenance services platform; inquire about each service provider’s formal safety training program
- Preventive Maintenance Software: comprehensive software, including a Work Order module, is key to ensuring the preventive maintenance plan is properly executed and adhered to.
- Pricing: obtain costs based upon required staffing levels along with specifics regarding expenses that are passed through to the property (i.e. uniforms, benefits, etc.)
The Leading Building Maintenance Services Company
For many years now, the professional team at Servi-Tek Facility Solutions has created transparent partnership solutions with facility and property managers.
Our experienced staff of experts specializes in generating customized plans for building and equipment maintenance that create property value.
We closely assess the physical plant, understand your goals, and develop comprehensive maintenance, service, and preventive maintenance strategy to protect your commercial real estate asset.
Servi-Tek also embraces the use of the latest technology and equipment for efficient operations, reporting, and tracking of your goals.
We look forward to discussing how we can benefit your organization and encourage you to contact our office today.