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75% - What The Other 25% Is Costing You Every Day

While there are many articles out there that speak to the point that maintenance is where your true cost of ownership is, how many of us have taken a good hard look at what the cost of a building really does to effect the 'total cost of ownership'? I would venture a guess that most organizations will try their best when building new facilities to reduce the upfront cost of the project. This has been ingrained in our psyche since we were young - why pay more for something now when I don't know if I'll ever realize the savings? Sure buying that inexpensive compact car is going to save you money up front, but what are the typical repair costs and how long can you expect to keep it on the road? If you are in a position to make decisions about your organizations capital planning and infrastructure  you need to understand holistically what happens when you're given the keys to your new space.

I've been in the maintenance and operations field for over 14 years now and can say that when it comes to dealing with this ever important issue of building maintenance, it is quite apparent that either the bean counters or the construction companies have never operated a building. How many times has a fan coil unit been installed in such a way that the maintenance mechanic can't access the filter? How many times have contractors, most likely the low bidder, use inferior products because they meet minimum code? My favorite and most recent one, an Air Handling Unit installed with it's filter access door inaccessible - so much so that they had to take the wall out to change the filters!

I ask this questions rhetorically as ultimately we have all encountered similar situations in the field. What I am suggesting is that when it comes time to develop your specifications for your new building, get the maintenance staff involved in the design process. They are, after all  the people who are going to need to maintain the building!

Some key points to consider:

  • What type of HVAC system is being installed and what type of maintenance activities are going to be necessary to maintain it? Just because you can save a few bucks on a 'two pipe' system doesn't mean you're going to save that over the cost of the buildings life.
  • How is your building being monitored? Do you have the appropriate controls system in place to perform continuous commissioning?
  • What type of flooring are you utilizing? How often will the carpet you selected need to be changed and at what cost? Did you install high end slate floors? Do you have the staff on hand or a means to support the necessary maintenance for this floor type?
  • Is your facility going to be a LEED facility? If so, at what cost to you over the buildings life cycle?
  • Are you utilizing BIM (Building Information Modeling) to build your facility? If so, do you have your facilities manager in the room when the building is being virtually constructed? (This should most definitely be a 'yes' answer on both fronts).

More posts to come on this subject but looking forward to hearing comments to develop the conversation further!