Everyone gets excited about the construction of a new building or the renovation of their new space. What doesn't get people excited, and often overlook,  is the maintenance of their new building or renovated space. Like most things, building materials have a life cycle, so for proper maintenance, they need to be repaired/replaced from time to time. Finish materials are usually the first places you notice wear and tear or aging since these items are part of the aesthetic. Things like worn carpet and faded paint (or a dated color) really impact the environment. However, there are other items like roofs, bearing walls, and exterior materials that, when not properly maintained,  have serious life and safety consequences, as we recently witnessed in Florida. The June 24, 2021 collapse of the residential condo high-rise was a preventable tragedy and highlights the need to address building maintenance and prevent future calamities.

The best approach to building maintenance is to have your architect provide a life cycle analysis of all the finishes and expected regular maintenance. This is typically an extra service but well worth the cost. This analysis will provide the lifespan of all the building's finishes along with a timeline for replacement. Often, building finishes reach the end of their expected life span at the same time, which can really hurt financially. The analysis should include an estimate with the expected replacement costs and likely escalation based on the timeframe. This allows you to start planning for the cost of replacement ahead of time to manage the expense over time. Yearly costs for normal maintenance are also included in the life cycle analysis. With a proper maintenance schedule, you can budget the yearly costs of maintenance and plan for the larger costs of replacement, when necessary. 

example of a replacement cost analysis
An example of a replacement cost analysis.

Design and construction follow the International Building Code, which is meant to protect public safety, but there are very few maintenance codes in the US. Often times it takes a great tragedy to spur change in regulations. The Rhode Island nightclub fire in 2003 that killed more than 100 people changed the building codes regarding the number of exits in a building for assembly occupancies. I predict the Florida disaster will start increased regulation of maintenance codes for building owners and change how we view buildings long term.

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