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Proactive building maintenance: How planning, technology, and new service models can save costs for building operators

For property owners and managers, many maintenance issues are reactive – jumping into the fray when problems occur. However, a proactive building maintenance plan can put building managers a step ahead of many issues, likely saving time, money, frustration and anxiety by avoiding emergency repairs. Moreover, it provides an increased level of service to tenants.

Proactive building maintenance

Most building operators understand that items like roofing and HVAC equipment, for example, must undergo maintenance to prevent catastrophic issues, but putting a whole-building strategic plan in place can help them go a step further.

Creating a building plan

Rather than waiting by the phone for that next harried call from a tenant, some emergencies can be avoided via long and short-term planning.

Long-term planning involves creating a vision for the property which outlines what the building owner may want it to look like in the future, while also looking at the current state of the facility and what items may need to be upgraded to achieve that goal.

Planning can then look towards the year ahead. Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, president of TOPdesk US, suggests this is a good place to start. Per her article in Facility Executive,

Organizations should focus on their long-term needs each year to examine which jobs can be finished within a specific timeline for the plan year and if others might come through that were unexpected. Some jobs and actions will simply follow from existing contracts with suppliers. Regular paint or other facility contract work are a good example of this. To avoid having to process these agreements manually in your operations list, you can have them planned automatically. If you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to have clear agreements with your suppliers beforehand. In those agreements you can establish a time frame during which the work has to be done.

Trust in tech

Building maintenance monitoring technology can also play a big part in proactive maintenance. While the cost and up-front challenges of implementing this technology may be daunting, smart sensors can now allow building operators to monitor items like HVAC equipment and plumbing remotely to identify risks before they’re even detected on a site maintenance visit.


A more recent development on the facility management field is the maintenance-as-a-service model. This model, similar to that of the software industry, has building managers leasing equipment rather than purchasing it outright. This leaves the manufacturer in charge of operation and maintenance of critical equipment, which would typically be contracted out to a third party. Per Propmodo,

The new approach is a fundamental shift in facility management. Instead of monitoring equipment and scheduling specialists, [equipment manufacturers] monitor their own equipment and tell the property when they need to make an on-site visit. The model doesn’t take agency away from on-site staff since they’re primarily responsible for simpler maintenance. For larger systems with critical equipment, special techs are needed. The difference is who makes the call. For property staff, the biggest change is more equipment ‘up-time’ and fewer surprises.

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