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Building Maintenance Design.
It can't be ignored. Once a building is finished themaintenance process begins and it never stops until the structure is eventuallyremoved from the landscape. The value of a commercial property can remainelevated for the duration of the building's lifetime. An ongoing deferredmaintenance program will keep he investment table and re-sale value high aspossible.
The design of a new building must take in consideration theimmediate and long-term cost of maintenance of that building. The architectneeds to factor in the ability of the owner to commit the necessary resourcesto maintenance. Based on that commitment, the architect can design thebuilding to meet the needs of the owner's assurance that the new building will bewell cared for.
The design and construction processes for a modern commercialbuilding involves a collection of choices that can influence the visual andfunctional quality of that building. The selection of materials and finishes,both interior and exterior, by the architect will affect the level ofmaintenance required for that building to remain the best investment for theowner by requiring the least amount of maintenance over the life of theproject.
Building maintenance4 has several levels. These levelsinclude the simplest needs that require attention on a regular basis. Examplesof this basic maintenance are the replacement of light bulbs and the trimmingof bushes. More complex examples of on-going maintenance needs include carpetstain removal and simple repairs to wall and floor surfaces. Finally, lessfrequent maintenance might include the changing of wall materials, re-plantingthe landscape, new signage and/or repair or replacement of HVAC mechanicalcomponents.
The architect must weigh the cost and effect of materialswhen designing the building. Additionally, he or she needs to understand theinherent cost of maintenance when selecting materials, finishes and equipment.Expensive natural wall covering, while beautiful, can also be quite delicateand be peculiarly subject to damage. The additional cost of maintenanceassociated with fragile materials must be considered in the design of theinterior. This also applies to exterior materials as well. Any material belowseven or eight feet will be subject to graffiti and damage due to vandalism.If not considered during the design process, the maintenance associated withvandalism can substantially increase the cost of maintaining the visualappearance of the building's public appearance. There are architecturalfinishes on the market that claim to repel spray paint so the graffiti damagecan be minimized. It would make good sense to test the coating materials on asmall part of the building before committing to the entire exterior surfaces.Signage is subject to vandalism as well. Architects often like the appearanceof individual letters applied low on the building entry wall. The visualappearance is secondary to the maintenance cost of constantly replacing theletters as individuals wishing to spell their name or have the initials ontheir own residence steal them. This problem is compounded when the individualletter are electrical pan-channel letters. The expense to replace the lettersis secondary to the possible liability when the thief is injured by anelectrical accident. Additionally, liability for the owner is always a concernwhen floor materials are to slick or mechanical equipment is poorly maintained.
The use of the building also may dictate the selection of materialsand details. Health care facilities need to have surfaces that can becontinually cleaned with harsh cleaners and clean rooms need surfaces that willnot created static electricity or retain dust. These are two examples ofunique needs that should be considered during the building design process. Theindividual responsible for the maintenance of these specialty-building typesshould be involved in the decision making process with the building'sarchitect, contractor and owner.
It is critical that the mechanical systems are planned foreasy and efficient maintenance duration of the building's life. Technology isconstantly changing and mechanical systems need to be flexible enough to easilyaccept these changes. Being able to update equipment in the future as thetechnology advances will keep the building efficient and maintainable. Thesenew efficiencies will require that persons responsible for the maintenance beable to understand the new technologies and be constantly trained. The obviousbenefit of new technology is efficiency, which will make the building moremarketable. The cost of maintaining and running a building will increase asit's systems age and become dated. This added cost could make the differencein the financial edge to the marketing of the development in the future. Bydesigning mechanical systems with the built-in flexibility of being able tochange as needed, can keep the project financial relevant in future markets.Insuring the ability for change is the responsibility of the architect andmechanical engineer during the design's development. The ease at which abuilding can be altered in the future to adapt to new maintenance technologiesand the ease at which the new systems are integrated can extend the useful lifeof the development for the owner.
New commercial developments are constantly coming on-line andeach will claim in their marketing to be the latest and greatest. The newbuildings will contain the most recent technologies in their mechanical systems.For long-term marketing viability, every new building should be designed toadapt to changing technology and those who will maintain the systems need tochange as needed to make certain the building will be competitive for as longas possible, even in a more competitive marketplace. The architect who doesnot take future mechanical technologies into consideration during the design ofthe building could be creating a financial calamity for the owner as newer moreefficient developments come into the market. The long-term cost of maintainingout dated building must be a consideration to the owner. The added cost ofmaintenance could make the difference in the development's success of failure.
The reality is that buildings cannot move to the newer neighborhoodas cities expand, they must remain behind. By insuring that they can be easilymaintained is a responsibility the architect and owner must take seriously ifthe building will be competitive in the future.