Building Maintenance – 2017
One of the lessons we learn very early on in life is that with ownership of property comes care and maintenance of said property. For businesses, when it comes to maintenance of space used for commercial and industrial purposes, it may fall under the responsibilities charged to the business owner, building owner, property management company, or divided between these entities accordingly.
While there’s a trend towards businesses with online storefronts and more that are home-based or don’t have the need for a physical location, we still live in a thriving city with a landscape full of businesses with storefronts, warehouses, offices, mixed-use centers, and the like. While you see construction and new developments all the time just about anywhere you’re at in Lincoln, what’s usually not in plain sight is the regular upkeep that’s required afterward to keep these places as nice as they appear and of course, the doors open for business.
In fact, building maintenance is an area where if performed properly, you wouldn’t notice a thing and vice versa. Once an issue becomes apparent due to maintenance falling by the wayside, it can be costly to resolve.
As with any important topic that affects a business’s bottom line, we’ve consulted our local experts who perform building maintenance. Spoiler alert: Plenty of great tips ahead!
Safe & Sound Buildings: Structural Upkeep
A building’s “bones,” along with all other key components of the structure as a whole, are critical to assess, and repair or replace accordingly, periodically as specified by the professional you entrust with these matters.
With regular use and exposure to the elements, it should be expected that maintenance at certain intervals will be required to maintain the integrity of the building.
“By establishing a regular maintenance schedule a building owner is going to avoid a major overhaul for their building,” advises James Bouckaert of McGill Restoration. “With Nebraska’s severe freeze/thaw climate, it is imperative for a building owner to keep up on maintenance and keep water out of the structural areas of the building or parking structure. A common mistake made by building owners is failing to budget for repairs right from the beginning when the building is purchased or otherwise changes hands. Then when repairs are needed down the line there may not be enough funds available at that point, so a ‘Band-Aid’ solution or shortcut for the repairs is requested. This way of thinking and approach to the situation is going to cause them to spend more money than opting to have it done it right in the first place.
Prior to purchasing a building, I highly recommend having an engineer evaluate it to determine what will need to be repaired now and what can wait. This will help you put together a timeline and work the required maintenance items into your budget accordingly. It can also give you leverage during the negotiation process.
Along the same lines, a trend we are seeing nowadays, especially on taller building in highly-populated areas, is using drones to perform surveys of the building and getting an up-close look at areas hundreds of feet in the air. This is a very inexpensive way to evaluate a building with real video footage in areas not visible on the ground and otherwise very expensive to access. The other methods to access these areas would be either motorized swing-stage equipment or using a boom lift, which both are expensive and require heavy equipment.
As far as upgrades to consider for any existing buildings in your portfolio, I personally think that installing water repellant or a protective coating to all exposed concrete especially in parking structures is key. One thing we know is concrete will crack and deteriorate; it is just a matter of when. This is going to eliminate a lot of future concrete repairs and also keep the structural parts of the garage out of the weather. With parking structures that are always occupied, it makes it difficult to perform repairs when needed and keep a garage in operation at the same time. By doing some maintenance up front the building owner is not going to lose out on income as they would if a parking structure needs to be closed down for repairs.
McGill Restoration is a very diverse company with a wide range of capabilities. We help facilitate surveys for building managers of commercial buildings and parking structures to determine what work is needed to maintain a building. With our experience and reputation, we are often called to these types of sites to determine why things are deteriorating the way they are and how those problems can be resolved. If you have concerns with your property, we’d be happy to discuss them with you – feel free to contact our Lincoln office directly.”
Sanitary Buildings: Waste Removal Systems
The overwhelming majority of buildings have restrooms, whether public or private. These are systems that require maintenance to continue functioning properly with regular use. The same holds true for other waste removal systems, such as grease traps at restaurants or safe disposal of hazardous chemicals that are required for a number of different types of businesses. There could be a lot of reasons why you’d have an independently-operating septic system on your property. If you do happen to fall into any of the aforementioned categories, you’ll want to be familiar with the system and also stick to a regular maintenance performed by the professionals.
“We feel maintenance is especially important when it comes to your liquid waste, whether it be for your business or residence,” advises Jaime Kubik of Southwick Liquid Waste. “Here’s why it’s such a big deal: When your septic system or grease trap backs up on you, typically that leads to other expenses and problems.
For instance, if a septic system isn’t properly maintained and backs up, you’re then faced with your employees and clients unable to use the restroom facilities or other activities that involve using water until the system is repaired and restored to proper function. It also has the potential to create messes that are anything but clean and sanitary. Liquid waste backing up is never good and many times you’ll then have to pay to have carpets and furniture cleaned because the system wasn’t properly maintained.
Septic systems need to be pumped every 3-5 years and many people forget and let their systems go unattended for years. If you don’t change the oil on your car it will still function, but the longer you wait to change it the harder it is on your car and the less efficient it runs. The same concept can be applied to your septic system.
Specifically for those with grease traps, restaurants as a prime example, there are similar problems. When you can’t use your kitchen efficiently, there are costs incurred for fixing the back-up issues but also the lost revenue.
When your septic system or grease trap aren’t functioning properly, either of these scenarios can create quite the catastrophe. We offer maintenance programs, giving our clients the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is who is educated about the system is charged with taking care of it.
For septic systems, our customers are generally on a 3-year schedule. Every six months we check the tank and laterals to make sure all is well, and then every 3 years we pump the tank. We leave our check-up sheet with the customer so they can see what we found and then know that they don’t have to remember if it’s been 2 or 3 or 15 years since the last time their tank was pumped.
For our restaurant customers, we work with them to discuss the frequency of their grease trap cleanings. Different restaurants fill their grease traps at different rates so we schedule accordingly. Typically, restaurant owners opt for it to be cleaned out every 3 to 6 months.
As with any industry, new advances in research and technology help us serve our customers faster and in more cost-effective ways. Southwick Liquid Waste stays on top of what is the most beneficial for our customers. We want our customers happy and the better their system can function for them, the happier they will be!”
Within the same theme of maintaining a clean and sanitary environment in your building, essential cleaning tasks can easily fall to the wayside if not entrusted to a professional. With everything else going on for a person who is charged with running a business, it’s best left on autopilot, meaning scheduled with a company that comes in on a regular basis, set schedule and all, and completes all required tasks. Everything will get done, and you won’t have to worry about the logistics. Along with keeping your place of business presentable year-round, utilizing the services of a professional cleaning company will also help to extend the life of certain features in your building that are exposed to regular traffic and use, defraying costs for future replacement.
Smart Buildings: Integrated Technology and Automation Systems
As technology progresses, so do its applications that fall within the realm of building maintenance. This is a really great thing for business owners and building managers for a variety of reasons, particularly with respect to all of the benefits that one enjoys with an investment made in this area.
“At Echo Systems our specialty is the integration of technology into buildings that house businesses,” says Travis Stutzman of Echo Systems. “Smart Building Integration is becoming more popular as business owners are becoming more educated on the options available that can h
elp to reduce costs and increase efficiencies with both the buildings and the personnel inside them.
As an important part of our technology solutions, we offer software programs that reduce energy consumption by centrally monitoring, measuring, managing, and controlling lighting and building power systems in real-time in every space. We can create intelligent routines and adaptive schedules that optimize HVAC, lighting, and shade positions based on time of day, time of year, occupancy, and how the room is used. Our solutions can be integrated with existing Building Management Systems, so work spaces become smarter, sustainable, and more cost-effective.
By utilizing our Smart Building Integration software, analytics can be used to establish what types of technologies are being used and how they are used. We’re able to provide the analytics reports needed to acquire valuable insight into how your meeting rooms, facilities, and AV equipment are being used and how energy is being consumed. The reporting interface enables new reports to be added at any time. We can custom-build reports that support whatever business decisions you need to make, using any data that our software collects.
This enables your organization to minimize your learning curve with your technology implementations. At the same time, it helps to ensure successful deployments and minimizing financial losses by putting the correct technologies in place without spending many years of trial and error to get it right.”
He further advises, “As a rule of thumb with technology integration, choose a partner, not a vendor. By finding a technology partner, you can gain invaluable advantages. It may save your organization what could potentially add up to be hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into technology that does not fit your vision, culture, and most importantly the end user’s needs. With a partner, you’ll be able to get the best solution(s) in place that will serve the current needs and by factoring in intelligent upgrades, your future needs too. It’s so true: the best solution is not always the cheapest one. As companies blindly choose the low bid, rather than the best solution, they will still run the risk of not staying within budget if the goals were not met.”
When allocating funds to the installation and upkeep of a building control system, as with any other upgrades to your building, it’s important that a return on investment can be quantified and justified. You’ll also want to work with a firm that can help you find ways to save money through rebates, tax incentives, and lower energy costs. Energy management and efficiency will be key to operations, and your maintenance program will keep everything going as planned.
“From the viewpoint of being a previous Plant Operations Manager of a building that was in excess of 1,000,000 square feet, I fully understand the value of a responsible maintenance program and state-of-the-art energy management system,” says Jack Zohner of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. “I found that the most sensible way to save money was to have a scheduled maintenance program to keep heating and air conditioning systems running longer while improving efficiency and reducing the risks of breakdowns. Historically this approach provides a guaranteed payback.
All commercial buildings can benefit immensely from good energy management systems that control lighting and equipment to meet all operation needs. It’s possible to save 25% or more in energy usage while improving comfort and indoor air quality. The payback is obviously very quick. Energy management systems have become very user-friendly and the investment cost is fairly low.
Even in smaller buildings, there are many things to do to reduce energy consumption. One of the most basic systems is in lighting control so let’s start there. Automatic light and exhaust fan switches are inexpensive and easy to install. They can provide operation only when needed and then shut off as programmed. A great reason to limit exhaust fan operation is that any air exhausted must be replaced and tempered. Typically that is accomplished by air infiltration that is full of pollen and other contaminants. In the summer, air infiltration requires cooling the air and removing humidity. In the winter, air infiltration requires heating the air and adding humidity. Less air infiltration reduces dust and pollens in the building. These inexpensive switches are also good for lighting that gets left on such as in closets, basements, hallways, etc.
Energy savings thermostats are another inexpensive way to save energy. Many can be controlled by iPhones or other computer devices. Some will provide low or high-temperature alarms that can help prevent damages, such as frozen pipes in the winter. It’s important to match the thermostat with the equipment so it’s properly controlled. It’s a job John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning can do for you fairly inexpensively. John Henrys can provide controls for multiple systems that allow you to adjust them so they are working together rather than ‘fighting’ each other.
All told, if you want guaranteed financial payback in a comfortable building, the answer is in quality maintenance and energy savings!”
“Establishing a regular maintenance schedule is a great way to ensure that a building stays in the best condition possible,” agrees Talisha Galaviz of Greenleaf Properties. “It’s also of the utmost importance for any building owner to take into consideration the fact that building maintenance directly relates to tenant retention. Thus, a well-maintained building is crucial to a successful one, from a business perspective, for all parties involved. Along with maintenance, budgeting for upgrades should be well thought out. When units and fixtures start to age, it becomes more expensive to keep repairing versus completely upgrading. Upgrading these items can save money in the long run.”
As previously detailed, technology is both helping us to maintain our buildings and also something that itself needs to be maintained. With many choosing to incorporate smart features into their buildings that control a number of systems, this is an area that also falls under the umbrella of general building maintenance that is beneficial to have scheduled at specific intervals.
“Far too frequently, the building owner or manager doesn’t fully consider the value of what routine building maintenance will do for them,” says Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls. “The reality is that when a building’s systems are properly maintained they will run at top efficiency and for the longest possible amount of time, minimizing your operating costs and unnecessary capital expenditures. Properly controlled and maintained building systems equal maximum employee satisfaction, maximum productivity, and cost savings. In fact, a well-maintained system can be cost neutral when considering both the energy savings and extended life of the equipment. In addition, a good maintenance program will help to ensure buildings will experience smooth, uninterrupted operation for as long as possible.
When it comes to building maintenance, service providers with a depth of support and solid system skills are critical to satisfying customers no matter the need. Our service maintenance team is comprised of long-term seasoned individuals who understand the value and importance in maintaining building systems at peak operating performance. To ensure this happens, we provide our service providers with the best possible tools, equipment, and training. Our service providers enjoy full factory support and I am pleased to say they are all factory certified on the products we service.
What constitutes the ‘right’ level of service for security equipment and automation systems, on the other hand, differs from facility to facility. At Engineered Controls, our goal is to help the building owner or manager succeed by offering custom-tailored maintenance agreements to fit their staff’s skill sets and business needs. Whether that’s a business that simply needs to identify a reliable resource for fast and accurate repairs, or one that wants to continually optimize the performance of the building, Engineered Controls provides a tiered approach to service that meets individual equipment needs, failure tolerance, and budget.
All told, when a building’s mechanical and electrical systems are working together in harmony, the environment will be pleasant, productive and safe for all.”
With that statement in mind, indoor air quality has become more of an area of focus than ever before for those exact reasons. Scott Bahm of NAI FMA Realty explains, “Maintaining good indoor air quality requires attention to the building’s HVAC systems, and in particular, outdoor air dampers that introduce outdoor air into the building’s mechanical systems. Diligent maintenance of this equipment helps minimize the risk of damage to the mechanical systems and reduces expenses due to excessive energy usage to maintain the comfort level and indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality is a major concern to businesses, building owners, and tenants because it can impact the health, comfort and productivity of a building’s occupants. So it’s beneficial that a building is run well for tenant satisfaction and helps in lease negotiations. Regularly maintained equipment also helps in budget planning. When equipment starts to show failing or deterioration to the point it needs to be replaced, it can be budgeted and planned for rather than an unexpected large expenditure requiring a quick decision.
With the continued use of technology to control mechanical systems, we’re evolving ever more towards wireless operation (i.e. wireless sensors, remote thermostats). Upgrading the building mechanical systems to incorporate a building management system or energy management system into the control and operation of equipment is beneficial for energy usage and keeping up the integrity of the building’s systems as they were engineered and designed.
Our expertise in this area has allowed us to best serve our extensive client base. NAI FMA Realty is a full-service brokerage firm and provides building management and maintenance for 4 million square feet of properties in Lincoln. Our skilled maintenance team responds to tenant concerns and service calls 24/7 and maintains properties to enhance the performance of the asset and keep systems running efficiently.”
While on the topic of improving the indoor environment, as well as enhanced energy efficiency, you might also consider installation of window films to help minimize the costs of future building maintenance.
According to Keith May of The Tint Shop, some of the greatest features and benefits are:
Glare and Heat Reduction: “This increases the comfort of the building for all employees while reducing energy consumption and costs,” explains May. “3M Solar Control Films can cut the glare coming through the glass by over 85%; sometimes around 95% with the right kind of glass and film combination. They can be virtually clear, are safe for all glass, and also have the potential to reduce the heat coming through the glass by almost 70% while not changing the exterior or interior appearance of the glass at all. With these benefits, you’ll also reduce the strain on your building’s equipment, which protects your investment and extends the longevity of its life cycle.
UV Protection: “All 3M films block 99% of UV light entering through the glass, which will keep flooring, woodwork, decorations, drapes, blinds and other interior furnishings from fading. Also, blocking UV rays can make an employee working in front of a window much more comfortable, and therefore more happy and productive,” May notes.
Improved Aesthetics: Have you ever driven by a large commercial building and seen blinds halfway down in some windows, paper taped to the windows in some places, or even framework or insulation showing through a window from renovation? It’s not only a sign that glare may be an issue for those working inside as previously mentioned, but it’s an eyesore from the outside too. May states, “As far as maintenance-related upgrades to consider when addressing these types of issues, when a facelift becomes necessary, adding 3M Window Film is a relatively simple way to improve the appearance of the entire building. You always want your building to look well-maintained, both inside and out.
Decorative & Obscuring: Along the same lines, he adds, “As far as interior decorating, 3M Fasara Frost Decorative Films are used in commercial spaces and offices to obscure vision into a certain room or area of the building, while still allowing natural light to come through the glass. Architects are on a very big trend of adding a lot of glass in offices presently and will be doing so for years to come. All of the glass helps open up an office environment immensely, as opposed to cubicles or walls. However, then privacy tends to become an issue, as well as concealing all the cords and wires from computers, phones, etc. These 3M Frost Decorative Films provide the cover needed to ‘clean-up’ those ugly areas under and behind desks, and in conference rooms, where privacy is sometimes needed. You won’t lose light in an area like you would with a dark black privacy film, and they do add a bit of décor and distinction to clear glass, which is a really nice touch.”
3M Window Films also come highly recommended by The Skin Cancer Association, ASID, and are Energy Star Rated. If you think 3M Solar Control or Decorative Window Films may be right for your building or office, May suggests doing a little research online first. On The Tint Shop’s website, tintshoplincoln.com, you can find out more information, request an estimate, and even ask questions, which will be answered in a timely manner by a 3M certified professional. Or, check out The Tine Shop on social media: Facebook (search The Tint Shop), Twitter (@TheTintShopLNK), and Instagram (thetintshoplnk) to view past projects and see what’s new or being installed in other buildings across town and nationwide.
Worry-Free Buildings: Outsourced Maintenance
Building maintenance is indeed something that, no matter how it’s tasked, requires a team approach for optimal results. Today, with the prevalence of the landlord-tenant relationship, it’s become much more common for this to be the exclusive responsibility of the property owner or property management company. So while it impacts all business owners with a physical location, it generally falls squarely on the shoulders of a smaller population within that group. As commercial properties have evolved to better accommodate the needs of the modern business owner, fewer are actually charged with the maintenance of the space they occupy and within which they conduct business. As such, it may make sense for you to own your location, but the conveniences associated with renting space may prove more attractive–particularly, in this case, not having to worry about building maintenance at all, or spend money on it regularly.
“With HIP Realty and HIP, OffiCenters, within our offerings, we have the opportunity to see both sides of building maintenance,” explains Michael Holroyd of Holroyd Investment Properties.. “Our main focus at HIP, OffiCenters is to provide a professional office space for our clients that allows them to focus on their businesses. Because of that, we take responsibility for all maintenance required. Our clients don’t have the worry or expense of maintaining their office.
As for HIP Realty, we have six skilled maintenance employees available to handle our maintenance needs. Besides giving timely service to issues as they arise, we also focus on completing preventative maintenance to avoid problems in the future. Our residents and owners can count on HIP Realty to provide 24-hour maintenance service all year long.
Moreover, we are constantly striving to be more efficient in our maintenance practices. Using LED lighting, following a recycling program, and completing frequent inspections are all ways we try to make maintenance easier.
We have all experienced unexpected expenses. No matter how hard you try to prepare for them, there is never a good time for major maintenance issues to arise. This is a worry we’ve taken out of the picture for our clients.
When planning, a business owner needs to consider how much overhead they want to take on themselves. Regular maintenance is part of that operating expense that must be budgeted. Each business must decide if that is the best route for them, or if an office suite where all of that is built into the lease is a better fit.”
Building maintenance is key to protecting your investment in the structure itself. Its impact also extends past that to the environment, of the business atmosphere and its ecological footprint. Similarly, it’s also one of the best ways to ensure that the location where business in conducted is supporting these ongoing matters as opposed to jeopardizing them. After all, in order to be successful, your doors need to remain open with everything functioning as it should.