Maintenance Planning & Maintenance Plans.

For any structure that is exposed to the elements and is intended to remain for an extended period of time maintenance is a key factor, we cannot expect anything to remain the way it was built for very long. This is because its simplest form a building or structure is a shelter and it is designed to shield us for Mother Nature’s wrath.  Our buildings are designed to do this efficiently and have many passive design features to help them remain in good condition for as long as they can and stay upright.

This begins with the structural components; this is the part that is designed to hold the weight of itself and other structural components like the roof as well as providing something to fix things to like cladding. No we all know that structural wood is treated to resist against any degradation ie: rotting. This treatment is a passive measure and is used in conjunction with the cladding which makes sure that the structural wood stays dry and therefore ensuring that the treatment is redundant.

Redundancy is an important concept in maintaining of buildings, this is because in many cases on system will fail but the damage will not be very large due to other systems being preserved by the first and then being made use of when the first fails. For example the waterproof lining that is applied under some  claddings are not designed to shield the buildings structure from the elements but it is designed to ensure that if the overlaying cladding fails then the water will not enter any further, this is the same type of effect that building paper has. Many redundant systems like this also contain a plan for the management of water or the situation that may arise if the first line fails, for example the water proof lining had drains at the bottom of every fool to ensure that the water was transported were it should be and not inside the building. Maintenance planning is important for many reasons, many different systems and products have different needs in relation to up keep and how critical this up keep is.

Most commercial buildings only get their yearly wash and anything that is broken gets fixed when it starts to cause a problem, however when damage starts to cause a problem it can quickly become apparent that the damage is of a larger extent that just the water dripping through the ceiling. When undertaking research for a maintenance plan the design and specification of the claddings, lining, rainwater management system and the structure are all taken into account and it is at this stage that critical maintenance items are uncovered and highlighted. Meaning that the manager has the opportunity to be proactive and ensure that an existing failure and a potential failure are well documented and planned into a schedule to mitigate any risk of damage and loss.

For example if building managers have provided a long term maintenance plan or organized a building surveyor to produce one for their benefit they will be aware that in certain areas of their property they have negatively recessed external  fibrous paneling as cladding  and they will be awaretat the only thing that keeps those things sealed  is a thin strip of rubber between each board. They will also know that it should be replaced at some point because it cannot be maintained as the rubber seals are not accessible and if they have not failed as yet they soon will be.

A failure of this type can go undetected for years and cause the structural wood in the walls and floor of the building to rot and also fail. I have seen (because of lack of a maintenance plan and report) bulding managers replace whole roofs because they thought that was where the leak was from. Then only to find out that the entire side of the wall below the internal gutter is letting water directly on to the inside of the internal linings. This is very common and happens all the time, the value of maintenance reports and plans cannot be understated, they save thousands of dollars and years of time for managers, owners and tenants. Maintenance plans and reports allow managers to have foresight and have stability in the knowledge of what will need to be spent in the future and what they can avoid spending in the future as well.

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