Proper building maintenance is key to jump-starting a successful facilities management plan. Whether you’re here to learn more about building maintenance, interested in making a career out of it, or trying to level up your organization’s building maintenance plan, this guide is the answer.
What is building maintenance?
Building maintenance is the continuous care of a facility and its grounds to keep it safe, clean, and operable. Organizations with successful building maintenance plans ensure that all areas of their facilities are in excellent condition. This includes electrical and plumbing systems, HVAC units, grounds and lawn, parking lots, restrooms, infrastructure, and more.
Because building maintenance covers such a wide variety of tasks, it’s crucial to find technicians and leaders with a diverse set of skills. This ensures that all facets of your facility are handled appropriately and efficiently.
Benefits of building maintenance
Buildings are the foundation of an effective facilities management system. Ensuring their proper care can lead to countless benefits for your team and your organization. We’ve listed a few below.
The tasks associated with building maintenance are meant to keep buildings in excellent condition. Regular maintenance such as equipment inspections, external building maintenance, cleaning, and lawn care ensure facilities remain well-kept.
Not only will your buildings look better, but well-kept workspaces positively influence productivity, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.
Decreased number of large repairs
Another benefit of routinely maintaining your buildings? Fewer out-of-the-blue equipment breakdowns, leaky roofs, and other unwanted building concerns. Properly caring for your facility and assets allows you to discover variances in performance, loose parts, or degrading assets. Instead of these creating large issues down the road, routine building maintenance enables you to find problems before they occur.
The drawbacks of a poorly maintained building stretch even further than unkempt grounds or a leaky roof. Failing to care for your building correctly can also lead to staff, occupant, and visitor safety hazards. That leaky roof can lead to slips, and a faulty handrail could severely injure someone.
To prevent safety incidents from occurring, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has a list of building and ground maintenance protocols every organization needs to uphold. Annual OSHA inspections help ensure buildings follow these guidelines and keep staff and occupant safety a priority.
Routine and preventive maintenance go a long way. Maybe more than you think. On average, preventive maintenance reduces maintenance costs by 12-18%. And routine building maintenance is no different. Issues that go unmanaged for long periods end up costing the organization much more than fixing small concerns along the way.
Types of buildings that require maintenance
Depending on the industry you work in and the buildings you service, maintenance tasks will look different. Below are some of the most common types of facilities that require routine maintenance and care.
Proper care and maintenance for schools and universities is critical. Studies show that a well-maintained school building helps students engage in their classes and better retain information. Similarly, a well-maintained building reduces educator turnover by 25%.
When education is the primary function of these organizations, it only makes sense to ensure the facilities support that goal.
Any rental space also requires building maintenance. Residential buildings include apartment complexes, dormitories, hotels, and other living spaces. All common areas need to be maintained daily to ensure residents and visitors can enjoy a safe, clean space.
Similarly, private spaces (rooms or apartments) require regular inspections to ensure HVAC units, lighting, plumbing, and other systems are fully functioning. These areas also require deep cleans after tenants and visitors leave the premises.
Nearly every business will require building maintenance to ensure the lights stay on, the trash is collected, space is cleaned, and basic systems (HVAC and plumbing) are functioning correctly. While smaller businesses tend to outsource these services, large companies often have a dedicated leader or entire department for building maintenance.
Because health and safety are such a large priority, building maintenance is even more crucial. Should a roof leak during surgery or a patient slip on ice walking into the building, the hospital could be facing severe liabilities. Hospitals typically have an entire maintenance department dedicated to keeping the facility in pristine condition for patients and visitors.
Municipalities take advantage of building maintenance benefits to ensure all government and city-owned buildings are adequately cared for and can effectively serve the public’s needs. Government-owned buildings include fire and police stations, post offices, parks, libraries, and other government-owned buildings.
Building maintenance services
While the tasks associated with building maintenance are abundant, they fall into three main buckets: repairing equipment, performing preventive maintenance, and cleaning facilities.
Building repair and maintenance
Even with the best building maintenance plans in place, issues will still arise. Reactive maintenance is a big part of building maintenance and includes tasks such as:
- Roofing repairs
- Recovering from a power surge
- Unclogging a sink or toilet
- Repairing a broken asset or equipment item
- Replacing a worn belt on a piece of machinery
- Fixing a broken garbage disposal
Perform inspections and preventive maintenance
Inspections and preventive maintenance allow your team to identify issues before they become significant problems. These tasks include:
- Semi-annual HVAC inspections
- Replacing filters as needed
- Testing performance of machines outside of regular operating hours
- Inspecting roofs
- Power washing
- Changing fluids in machinery
- Changing the oil in vehicles
- Repaving parking lots/garages
Cleanliness is a primary focus for building maintenance. Clean buildings result in more satisfied tenants and staff. Cleaning tasks include:
- Vacuuming and mopping floors
- Cleaning windows and doors
- Removing trash
- Wiping down surfaces
- Cleaning up after accidents
- Waxing floors
- Cleaning hard-to-reach areas
- Cleaning up after repairs
- Carpet cleaning
Types of building maintenance workers
Because building maintenance covers such a diverse range of tasks, it’s essential to have the right team for the job. While a building maintenance team may include more roles than outlined below, these are the most common.
Individuals in this role are responsible for keeping the inside of buildings clean. Typical cleaning services include vacuuming and mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, emptying the trash, cleaning up after accidents, cleaning windows and doors, and wiping down surfaces.
Because most of their work is routine, janitors abide by a building maintenance schedule that tells them how frequently to perform specific tasks.
These individuals ensure all systems in the building (HVAC, electrical, plumbing) are functioning correctly. Their responsibilities include performing inspections and routine maintenance to keep systems running efficiently. This also helps them discover issues before they escalate into large, expensive maintenance projects.
Technicians rely on work orders or routine maintenance schedules for their daily task assignments. Maintenance managers typically assign these tasks to their teams depending on bandwidth and skill set.
Maintenance managers oversee all the work performed by maintenance technicians and, sometimes, janitors. Overall, they are in charge of building operations and maintenance. This role includes fielding work order requests from the rest of the company and assigning them appropriately to their technicians. They also create schedules and checklists for preventive maintenance tasks to ensure technicians and janitors effectively inspect systems, repair assets, and clean buildings.
It’s in the maintenance manager’s best interest to ensure their team has a diverse skillset that spans their facilities’ needs. This ensures buildings remain in tip-top shape and issues that arise can be handled efficiently and effectively.
Becoming a building maintenance technician or manager
Building maintenance technicians and managers are essential for a wide variety of organizations to be successful. If this career sounds like the right fit for you, look at some of the ways to get started!
The first step toward a successful building maintenance career is to get started as a technician. From here, you can work your way up to a maintenance manager or supervisor. A crucial component of working your way up the ladder is training.
Most maintenance training is learned in the field, so getting started at the technician level will set you up extremely well for success. Many new technicians will be paired with more experienced technicians to learn how to perform inspections, repair equipment, and learn maintenance management basics.
In addition to learning on-the-job, many technicians will also take classes at local colleges or universities to become certified in a specific field or expand their current skill set to become more attractive to employers.
As mentioned, many technicians become certified in certain areas to enhance their skill set. Some of the certifications technicians pursue include:
- The Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP) program from the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals
- Facility Management Professional from the International Facilities Management Association
- General Industry Certification from the International Maintenance Institute
- HVAC Certification from North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
Building your skill set
Like any job, there are specific skills that every technician and manager should possess.
- Dexterity: Building maintenance often requires hand and power tools to get the job done effectively. Individuals in this role should have good hand-eye coordination and feel comfortable operating tools and machinery.
- Endurance: Building maintenance is a job that requires individuals to be on-the-move the majority of the day while using heavy equipment.
- Problem-solving: Issues arise every day in building maintenance, and there isn’t always a step-by-step tutorial on how to fix it. Technicians in this field need to be critical thinkers who are quick on their feet.
- Time management: Individuals in this role are often faced with a plethora of maintenance tasks. They must be able to pinpoint priority concerns and work efficiently to remedy them.
Become familiar with maintenance management software
Many organizations are now utilizing maintenance management software to simplify the work order intake process and easily assign tasks to technicians. Those looking to make building maintenance a career can level up their skill set by becoming familiar with maintenance management software and how it helps organizations streamline their processes.
Building maintenance has become a popular strategy amongst facilities teams over the past several years, which gives you new opportunities to strengthen your facilities management processes. If you’re looking to get started, our facilities and building maintenance checklists help you identify which areas of your facility to tackle first and provide steps to inspect and care for them.
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More building maintenance resources
- Facilities and Maintenance Management Assessment Tool
- Facilities Management Checklist: 14 Must Have Items on Your List
- Preventive Maintenance Checklists to Keep Your Facility on Track
- Facilities Management Best Practices: 7 Ways to Improve Efficiency
- School Facilities Management: How to Optimize your District’s Maintenance Processes
- Facilities Management Software: Benefits, Features, and Vendor Comparison