Owning a building for your business or residential property involves substantial investment and comes with monumental responsibilities. One of the most important things you can do to protect your investment is to be diligent about timely preventive building maintenance. It can save you money in the long run and keep your clients, employees, or family safe and comfortable, while maintaining maximum efficiency, reducing energy use, protecting and preserving your assets, maintaining staff efficiency, and protecting your reputation and credibility as a property owner in the event of an accident. Preventive maintenance includes everything from your computers and office equipment to plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, electrical systems, fire-protection and life-safety systems, plus building maintenance like doors, gutters, trim, skylights, re-skins, additions, and insulation packages. In COVID times, building owners and operators face heightened maintenance requirements toward providing safe, clean buildings that have better air quality than ever, thus providing freedom from harmful contaminants and contagions which, in turn, leads to improved staff morale and efficiency. The consequences of relying solely on reactive building maintenance can be serious, including unplanned downtime, idle employees, halted production, missed deadlines, and even long-term damages to your brand. Being diligent about maintenance, on the other hand, leads to decreased equipment downtime, conservation of assets, improved reliability, improved safety, increased equipment efficiency, and more.
Total Property Oversight
If you understand the importance of building maintenance but the demands are too overwhelming for you to keep up with, you might want to contact Seldin Company (seldin.com) about property management. They have a facilities department that offers complete property oversight for your multifamily development’s physical assets, including inspections, project management and contracting. They also provide general landscaping and what they call the property “10-second look”.
“This is crucial, because businesses and homeowners often decide where they are going to live or operate their business in the first 10 seconds of their visit, so it’s important to make a great first impression,” said Seldin VP of Facilities Joe Cordle. “When maintenance doesn’t stay current, the property can start to decline and become very difficult to keep up with. A water leak not fixed over time, for example, can lead to major property damage, including structural issues.”
During the last year, Seldin’s facilities and property teams have learned new ways to get their jobs done while maintaining residents’ health and safety as their top priority throughout the pandemic. They are making effective adjustments to operations to keep everyone safe.
“It’s important to provide a safe living environment that owners and residents can be proud of,” Joe said. “There are rapid changes with new technologies, and it is important to keep moving forward and learning new ways to do things. Technology was a great asset during the last year. It was important to complete maintenance issues and upkeep, while limiting person-to-person contact as much as possible.”
From the Outside In
Not only does proper maintenance of the exterior of your building increase its curb appeal but it boosts your brand and, as a result, helps your business thrive. Stonebrook Exterior (stonebrookexterior.com)
“If you don’t maintain the exterior of your home or business, it shortens the life of the building,” said Stonebrook Business Development Manager TwiLea Fletcher. “Planned inspections of all systems will provide opportunities to extend their life. The price of ‘doing nothing’ creates higher repair and replacement costs for integrated systems that fail permanently.”
You should obtain multiple analysis of your existing structure by at least two companies before proceeding with exterior maintenance or replacement. Evaluate the results of the companies, then consider the company that encourages and practices value-engineering strategies, as Stonebrook does.
“We perform an extensive customer-needs analysis for each project with which we are engaged,” TwiLea said. “We take each opportunity and consider all the aspects of what the customer wants, needs, and has budgeted. Our reputation has been built from an unyielding commitment to excellence in the areas of safety, productivity, and workmanship. Whether we are adding value by helping you select the most aesthetically impressive or environmentally-friendly exterior applications or implementing long-term strategies that will help minimize your total cost-of-ownership, we are accountable for the success of your project.”
The Power of CLEAN!
If one thing has become clear in the wake of the pandemic, it is the extraordinary power of CLEAN. That includes things like removal of hard-water buildup, proper floor maintenance, and necessary cleaning maintenance, without which you could be looking at early replacement of expensive flooring, including carpet, vinyl composition tile, and the like—and the dissatisfaction of tenants or clients that visit or inhabit your building. If you’re looking for professionals for the job, we recommend considering Christenson Cleaning & Restoration in Omaha (christensonclean.com).
“To prevent the repercussions of deferred cleaning maintenance, you really need to partner with a company that’s going to take your cleaning needs seriously through open communication and proactive management, including scheduled inspections with you to ensure the satisfaction of you and your building’s occupants,” said Charlie Christenson, who owns the 35-year-old family business. “Due to the pandemic, we have been busy doing additional disinfecting at the facilities we maintain to ensure that everyone who enters enjoys not only a clean environment visually but also a safe and healthy one, thanks to use of proper disinfectants and procedures.”
The Christenson professionals fix and clean things before they become problems, so you’re investing in maintenance, not replacement. Considering that a business or home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, why would you settle for less?
“It’s so important to protect your investment by spending the money to hire a company that’s going to take a proactive approach to your needs,” Charlie said. “We do that to ensure that your investment is clean, safe, and going to last for many years!”
KPE Architecture – Engineering – Forensics (kpe-inc.com) offers forensic services that often uncover maintenance issues responsible for the property losses they are called to investigate. Two of the most common maintenance issues are foundation problems related to roof and site drainage (gutters, downspouts, how the ground slopes away from the building) and roof leaks in older buildings from age, wear, and lack of attention. A company’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), electrical systems, and an energy audit and assessment of the facility can find potential problems that may need to be addressed due to safety concerns, energy costs, and systems end-of-life.
“Unfortunately, we are typically only called in by the owner or insurance company after there has been some sort of failure resulting in property damage,” said KPE Associate Principal Chad Liechti, PE. “The price of doing nothing is often higher than the cost of avoidance. You can either pay a certain amount on a regular basis to properly maintain the building or pay a large lump sum amount for repairs after a failure. Insurance only covers property damage from a covered peril, too, so this means if your roof is damaged from a wind storm and results in a leak, insurance will likely cover the damage to the roof and interior. If you fail to perform regular maintenance on your roof, and it fails resulting in a leak, the repairs will not be covered by insurance. Do not ignore the roof of your building!”
When it comes to HVAC systems, doing nothing can cost more money, too. If not maintained, the systems can increase electrical and fuel use because they are not operating at their peak efficiency. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing filters in air handling units, cleaning coils, and ensuring the outdoor condenser is free of debris. In light of COVID, KPE recommends purchasing more efficient filters for air handlers and changing those filters at shorter intervals.
Achieving Energy Goals
Commercial energy maintenance costs can skyrocket over time. Without data-driven methods to identify energy-use factors, such as shifts in occupancy and system performance can drain operational budgets. Energy Studio (energystudioinc.com) professionals help facility staffs recognize sources of operational hiccups so they can adjust and get back to improved building performance. Energy Studio focuses on energy efficiency in buildings to save businesses maintenance costs and conserve their assets.
“In existing buildings, we look for all types of energy saving opportunities or diagnose degraded building performance by evaluating utility bills and building automation system data,” said Energy Engineer Alexander Skillman. “For example, a new university research building’s operation was showing unexpectedly high utility use for chilled water and natural gas. When we analyzed energy usage, we discovered unexpected data that pointed to a stuck valve causing simultaneous heating and cooling.”
Lack of maintenance can cause extreme equipment failures or cascading damage caused by silent operational problems. These emergencies will likely disrupt building occupants; retail, foodservice, offices, and multifamily residential can be significantly impacted by way of lost sales or dissatisfied tenants.
“Ignoring or delaying building maintenance leads to negative outcomes,” Alexander said. “Equipment and systems will operate as expected until a failure results in an unplanned emergency that requires immediate attention and unexpected expense. Over time, doing nothing certainly results in higher costs or even injury or harm to occupants. Commercial facility managers and homeowners struggle to keep maintenance costs under control so they can manage costs and achieve long-term energy usage goals.”
When it comes to maintenance, there are a host of factors that are crucial to your business, but none more so than the safety of its inhabitants. FireGuard, Inc. (fireguardusa.com) provides Full Life Safety Services to all commercial businesses and facilities, including but not limited to: healthcare, education, industrial, restaurants, property management, hospitality, retail, construction and more. They inspect, maintain and repair fire-alarm systems, kitchen-hood systems, fire extinguishers, fire-sprinkler systems, backflows and special hazard systems. FireGuard also has a specialized team dedicated to the design and installation of fire-alarm systems. Many of the maintenance and safety services that FireGuard provides are required by the NFPA – National Fire Protection Association.
“In Nebraska, you are required to have your fire alarm, kitchen hood, special hazard, and clean agent systems inspected twice a year,” said FireGuard Owner Lori Sorensen. “Fire sprinkler systems, backflows, and fire extinguishers require an annual inspection. The price of not inspecting? These code-required inspections are imperative to the safety of your facility and the people who occupy them. The cost and detriment of a potential fire in comparison to keeping up to date on these inspections is insurmountable.”
An example of the price of doing nothing would be the potential of your batteries failing from skipping the semi-annual inspection: “Will the fire-alarm system function as it intended to? Who will call the fire department? These are questions no one should leave to chance,” Lori said.
Restoring vs. Replacing
If you’ve noticed the beautiful stone floors or the shiny shower or kitchen tiles in your home or business looking not-so-beautiful lately, you might be putting off replacing them because of the significant expense. But what if you could keep them from fading and you didn’t have to replace them at all? If you work with Lifetime Stone Restoration, that could very well be your reality.
“We can make your stone floors look like new again by diamond honing, polishing, and filling holes and cracks,” said Lifetime Stone Restoration (lifetimestone.com) Owner Don Mlnarik. “After they are restored, we can come in on a monthly or quarterly basis to do a cleaning and one-step polish to maintain the shine. Our process for cleaning tile and grout is more aggressive than most other companies, too. We can also remove hard water buildup on counters in kitchens and restrooms, fix chips or cracks, and reseal to prevent staining.”
If you don’t keep up on maintenance, especially of a stone floor or counter, the cost to get it looking new again will always be expensive. But, Don said, if you maintain it with a routine cleaning and/or polishing, you don’t need to worry about a time-consuming and more expensive restoration process. If your floor is already in pretty bad condition, don’t worry; that doesn’t mean it’s too late. Lifetime Stone Restoration can still get it looking like new again—and that benefits your business in a big way!
Avoiding Costly Damage and Yuck!
If your home has a septic tank, regular maintenance is a must to avoid expensive repair and the yuck factor that comes with failures. That’s where Midland Pumping Service, Inc. (midlandpumpingservice.com) comes in. They offer pumping of any liquid that is not hazardous or flammable, which includes pumping of septic tanks, restaurant or commercial kitchen grease traps, and pits or holding tanks of all types and sizes that you might find in places such as auto body shops, car washes or industrial buildings. They also offer hydro-jetting, which is the use of high-pressure water to clear blockages or buildup that may occur in sewer or grease trap lines.
“The consequence of doing nothing in terms of building maintenance is that when a problem eventually occurs, such as a septic tank or restaurant plumbing back-up, it typically ends up costing more to fix than it would have cost to keep up with the maintenance,” said Midland Pumping’s Aimee Hoffman. “A poorly maintained septic tank can cause thousands of dollars in damage in a short amount of time, and if waste escapes the unit, it can damage your property and your relationship with neighbors who have to deal with the aromas.”
Since the pandemic hit, Aimee said Midland has observed that customers who are truly committed to keeping their own operations running smoothly resisted the temptation to back off of regular maintenance to cut costs.
“We cannot overstate the importance to homeowners with septic systems to have their tanks regularly pumped,” Aimee said. “This would generally be every three to five years for most households. The health hazard and the stress of having a septic backup occur in your home is obvious!”
Timeless Doesn’t Mean Maintenance-Free
Natural hard stone, tile, grout, and concrete are timeless, but they can take a beating over time and become dull and deep-down dirty. MarbleLife of Omaha & Lincoln (marblelife.com) provides restoration services for these surfaces, restoring them back to their original beauty and structure by cleaning the grout, honing the stone to remove imperfections, then shining and sealing them for beauty and durability. MarbleLife also has proprietary solutions to clean and protect wet spaces, as in bathrooms and kitchens, which can gather mold and mildew over time. MarbleLife can also help you update your surfaces to modernize them without replacing them.
“The trend now is to go with darker grout colors,” said Director of Business Development William Vodvarka. “We can remove the grime and bacteria from your old white grout, then stain and seal it with a darker charcoal color or others you may prefer. Concrete is another surface we work with. We can polish and seal the concrete in the home or business to maintain its durability in a cost-effective way.”
Given that 20% of MarbleLife’s restoration business comes from use of inappropriate cleaners, their professionals will also teach homeowners how to use the proper cleaners on the surfaces in their homes or offices to keep them looking good between regular, professional cleanings. When the time comes to sell your home or business, MarbleLife can also do wonders for first impressions.
Protection Against Extremes
Protecting your home from extreme weather is part of a comprehensive preventive maintenance program, too. Whether it’s the summer heat and humidity or the cold, icy winters in Nebraska, failing to protect your home or business from extreme temperatures and weather conditions will lead to skyrocketing energy bills and increased risk to your physical assets. Streamline Energy Solutions (streamlineenergysolutions.com) offers a solution for you: Reinsulate and air-seal your home!
“One of the biggest things we recommend to create the maximum impact when someone wants to insulate their home is to air seal it,” said Streamline Co-founder and BPI-Certified Auditor Jen Keller. “We’ll locate all the accessible crevices in your attic, including around your fixtures and top plates, and seal them to prevent conditioned air from leading into the attic space. That preps the attic for us to insulate with blown-in fiberglass. We prefer this product over cellulose because it doesn’t settle over time, does not absorb moisture, and is a lot cleaner product. Of course, the baffles we install in an attic are a crucial step in the process, too, because they keep the insulation from blocking air flow through your soffit vents and provide necessary ventilation.”
Insulation codes also change regularly, so if your insulation was up-to-code 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean it still is. Keeping your insulation up-to-date will mean improved energy efficiency, reduced energy costs, the comfort of your family, clients, and employees, and more.
In establishing a reliable building-maintenance plan, Engineered Controls emphasizes the importance of teamwork between the business owner, building owner, property manager, and key industry professionals. They offer custom maintenance plans, including a complete suite of building management services and cloud-based resources designed to monitor energy and operational efficiency .
“A well-maintained system can be cost-neutral when considering both the energy savings and the extended life of the equipment,” said Engineered Controls (engineeredcontrols.com) President and CEO Pat Killeen. “From Engineered Controls’ perspective, there are five main benefits for a building owner to work with a maintenance provider: reduced hassles from equipment breakdowns; management of business expenses; optimization of energy use; improved employee comfort and overall health; and increased peace of mind.”
Buildings that are continually maintained are much less likely to need sudden expensive repairs, which can snowball.
“First, a hole is left unrepaired, leading to a leak in the ceiling, which causes mold in the floorboard, which weakens the structure of the building, and on and on,” Pat said. “No one wants to deal with these kinds of problems.”
As you can see, ongoing building maintenance is a lot to handle on your own. We highly recommend contacting the businesses featured here to remove the burden from your shoulders, help preserve your property assets long-term, and keep your employees, clients, and families safe and healthy.