Building Maintenance in Omaha, NE
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 the Omaha Metro, 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 Omaha 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.
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.
Secure Buildings: Functional Points of Entrance
Again, anything that gets used regularly will need to be properly maintained in order to perform as it should. Windows and doors are another great example of this.
“Among the most important things to take into consideration are age and function of your doors and locks, along with types of glass, depending on if they are safety glass or insulated. This will determine how your budget is established,” advises Jim Hannum of A United Automatic Doors & Glass, which, repairs doors, locks, and glass. “I’d also advise looking back on how your doors and locks performed over the last year or two.
When a door breaks down unexpectedly or after hours in an emergency it is more costly to repair or replace. Servicing doors for prevention will help to minimize, or eliminate, business interruptions and keep customers coming in, along with avoiding emergency fees. Likewise, when it’s time to install new doors or glass, I oftentimes notice that business owners will try to save money by purchasing a lower quality product. In the short-term, it is more probable the building owner will experience issues with door function that frequently need to be fixed. This will collectively over time cost more long-term than investing in a solid, quality product at a moderately higher price point early on. Always try to replace your doors and locks with the highest quality possible for peace of mind. Interestingly enough, in our industry, the highest quality does not always mean the most expensive.
As far as setting a schedule for provider visits, early inspections and maintenance are recommended. The best time of year to inspect would be late summer before the upswing of the fall business cycle. For those looking to stay ahead of repairs, I’d highly recommend changing out the existing glass to Thermal and Insulated Metal and High-Efficiency Glass to conserve energy and lower your costs. Insulated glass in the doors with new weather stripping to seal will drive down energy and utility expenses. This will also help you to avoid costs for early replacement by extending the life of your equipment and assets. The beauty and image of your business will be enhanced too. Stanley Access Technologies provides us with regular updates about new and innovative and energy efficient products, so if you’d like to learn more, go to www.aunitedglass.com to see the new technology that’s out there, or feel to call me directly anytime.”
In closing, he also recommends working with someone local for the maintenance your building. “One trap that many businesses fall into is entering into a national contract with their headquarters. Or similarly, they come to find out that their building owner/property manager has outside maintenance agreements. Please be watchful of these kinds of agreements. By contracting out building services to a third party, they try to reduce costs by going through a middleman. These companies will try to make their money by exacting fees and unnecessary trips, thus making the third party vendor much more expensive in the long run. Go local! You are really much better off finding a reliable local provider who you trust.”
A United Automatic Doors & Glass also has a security division, Secure Card Readers And More (S.C.R.A.M.), which provides hardware, software, and cameras along with repair services on those items and systems.
Josh Hannum of S.C.R.A.M., a division of A United Automatic Doors & Glass, weighs on the importance of staying up to date and maintaining the security of your business location.
“Ask yourself: Is your business protected with updated locks and cameras from all threats, including internal? Taking this into consideration and staying vigilant in your management of fundamental security components is key. Security is a 24-hour-a-day activity and monitoring the system should be ongoing. Check all your cameras and systems at least weekly. You can ask your security provider or vendor to schedule regular periodic maintenance appointments, commonly referred to as P.M.s. Hardware inspections should be conducted at least every six months, or more, and sometimes can be evaluated remotely. If you’re at a point where you’re looking into upgrading, following suit with the trend toward synergies and integration between access/entry and building security/surveillance is advised. We get daily updates on new technology and innovations, and we share them on our website, www.aunitedglass.com/scram, for anyone who is interested in learning more.”
Josh also reminds of a few things to keep on your radar this time of year. “Cold weather can cause issues with concrete seizing that can affect moving parts. Snow melt salt can cause doors to fail as well. A business should make sure debris is cleared from the doors. Also, do not use solvents or even WD40. Windy days can cause a door to be sheared off its hinges. As for advice from S.C.R.A.M., thieves are constantly looking for ways to steal and have longer to work under the cover of night in the winter months. 1. Keep your lights on brighter at night; 2. Make sure alarms are on; 3. Don’t put garbage out that reveals high-value items in the building overnight.”
When it comes to allocating funds for maintenance of these areas, both agree: “As for budgeting, the business owner or building maintenance manager should evaluate the prior year, expecting for costs to increase about 5 percent, and then set aside funds for costs not covered by insurance in an emergency.”
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.
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.
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.
Our Planned Service Agreements (PSAs) are designed to assist in the daily operation of facilities. The PSA has two elements: 1) Preventative Care; and 2) System-Wide Energy Analysis.
Our Preventative Care program focuses on the building hardware. It is a standardized preventative maintenance program on a building controls system to maximize the system’s reliability and to minimize the operational costs. In other words, we provide comprehensive system-wide checkups and testing to ensure that the control system is always operating at peak operating performance.
In the second element of our maintenance program, System-Wide Energy Analysis, our staff of trained experts will assist a building owner in identifying areas where they can reduce costs as well as simple potential energy savings payback opportunities and providing training as needed. When our customers express interest in a more aggressive approach to energy reduction, we then move them into our Energy and Environmental Optimization Program, handled by trained EEO professionals, where we then look at equipment life cycles and more extensive energy programs.
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.”
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.