Cost-Effective Preventive Maintenance

I have a confession to make.

When I started in the construction industry, I didn’t have a nice and tidy framework to guide me. Sure, I knew what the words ‘maintenance’, ‘preventative’, and ‘cost-effective’ all meant.

But when you put them all together … it turns into one of those vague industry buzzwords. People understand what it means. They don’t understand how to make it a reality.

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When and How Often to do Exterior Property Inspections

We get some common questions when it comes to exterior property inspections.

  • When should I do inspections?
  • How often should I do inspections?

Inspections are an essential part of sustaining an attractive property and minimizing risk, so having the right frequency and schedule for them is huge for your success.

There’s no absolute rule, and every property will be different.

But here are three things to consider when determining when and how often to do exterior inspections at your property.

#1: Property type, use, and location

The type, use, and location of your property play a significant role in determining inspection frequency.

For example, a high-class office building will require a lot more inspections than a warehouse property. Consider things like:

  • Size
  • Traffic
  • Vacancy
  • Visibility
  • Neighborhood

#2: The overall condition

After you’ve thought about those things, it’s time to account for what kind of shape the property is in right now.

  • How old is your property?
  • What’s the maintenance history?
  • What about the deterioration rate of building components?

#3: Staff availability

Your on-site maintenance staff and the size of the portfolio you manage will naturally influence your inspection schedule and frequency.

After evaluating all the factors, you’ll want to determine a schedule and frequency for all your major components.

Some common frequencies are:

  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Annually

And when it comes to the timeline or schedule, you’ll want to try to conduct inspections at times when they’ll impact tenants’ businesses the least.

7 C Strategies for Cost-Effective Maintenance

(St. Louis, MO, March 27, 2019) “Cost-effective”, “Preventative” and “Maintenance” are all common buzz-words used in the construction industry, and while the terminology is understood, few really understand how to make “cost-effective preventative maintenance” a reality for their facility.

Cost-effective preventative maintenance is a fluid process that can have a huge impact on a property’s bottom line if done properly. The facility maintenance experts at Western Specialty Contractors have created a “7 C Strategy for Cost-Effective Preventative Maintenance” to help building owners and facility managers understand and put into practice a cost-effective preventative maintenance plan of their own.

Components and Conditions

A preventative maintenance program begins with making a list of a facility’s different components and gathering basic information on each of their conditions. Collecting this information is crucial for identifying maintenance needs and determining the amount of deferred maintenance needed. It will also help facility managers plan and prioritize projects and evaluate their costs. Tips for compiling the list include:

  • Keep an accurate building component inventory
  • Make a plan for performing a condition assessment
  • Conduct the assessment methodically
  • Assign condition ratings for each component
  • Decide on a regular frequency for assessments

Capacity and Costs

Preventative maintenance isn’t about big budgets or how much money is spent. To be cost-effective, it’s all about how the money is spent. Facility managers are encouraged to make a plan that targets their resources towards the highest needs. To make a great plan, facility managers need to develop the capacity for ranking maintenance projects and evaluating their costs by doing the following:

  • Recognize that not all projects share the same importance
  • Use an objective process for prioritizing projects
  • Use life-cycle costing and other tools to evaluate total costs


When facility managers don’t have a plan, maintenance tends to be reactive instead of proactive. In other words, maintenance only happens when the need occurs, which typically results in higher repair costs and inconvenience. Coordinating long- and short-term maintenance plans together will help facility managers avoid costly reactive maintenance.

  • Develop a long-term plan
  • Develop a capital improvement program
  • Establish a reserve account for maintenance
  • Develop an annual work plan
  • Link the annual work plan with the annual budget


Once an assessment and inventory of all components have been made, the projects have been prioritized and their costs have been evaluated, now is the time to make checklists and mini-frameworks for staff to execute the maintenance plan. Start by doing the following:

  • Develop checklists of tasks
  • Determine the frequency of tasks
  • Link preventative maintenance with everyday tasks
  • Schedule a timeline
  • Prepare procedures for managing the program


No matter what the quality, performance characteristics and cost of a material or system, they are only as effective as the caliber of their installation. Even the best systems may prove worthless or ineffective if not installed and transitioned properly. Improper installation can lead to structural and interior damage that could result in lost revenue for the building owner. A critical aspect is contractors. It’s not about finding the one with the cheapest estimate; it’s about finding the right contractor for the project. The right contractor will make any project a lot less stressful. When selecting a contractor, consider the following:

  • Please do a thorough review of whether they have the right experience and skills for the project.
  • Determine whether they have a proper fiscal responsibility to complete the project and honor the punch list
  • Create a qualification statement to pre-qualify contractors for projects

Media Contact

Jennifer Beidle

5 Ways to Tap into the Big-Time Power of Condition Ratings

To understand how cost-effective maintenance programs work, consider how you approach filling up your car with gas.

When do you usually get gas?

Do you wait until you run out and get stuck on the side of the road?

Or when your low fuel light pops on, do you panic, drop everything, and head to the nearest gas station?

If you’re like most people, you don’t do either

Both strategies are ridiculous.

Instead, you get gas sometime between those two points.

You never risk waiting too long and running out. But you also don’t panic when your car warns that you need gas soon.

The sneakily useful tool called “condition ratings” follows the same logic as a low fuel light.

And when you use them right, it can help you make smart decisions almost automatically (like getting gas before running out.)

What are condition ratings?

Before diving into how you can leverage the power of condition ratings, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

Property managers should assign a condition rating to each building component after completing an inspection.

The ratings should be based on a scale that’s created beforehand. Every car has a condition rating scale for fuel:

  • Full
  • 3/4
  • 1/2
  • 1/4
  • Low

Condition rating scales for properties can be simple (good-fair-poor-critical.) Or they can be involved (1-10 numerical index.) It’s entirely up to you and what works best at your property.

Now that we know what condition ratings are let’s take a look at how you can use them to save tons of time, money, and effort.

#1: Know condition changes

A building component’s condition going from Good to Fair is like a low fuel warning light popping on.

A change in condition provides you with a valuable warning, which helps you make the right maintenance decisions in critical situations.

#2: Know if you need to fix something

The low fuel warning light also takes out the guesswork of when we should fill up our car.

When should you make a repair? How can you time it to save as much money as possible?

Using condition ratings can automatically answer both questions for you.

#3: Make inspection data objective

Condition ratings that everyone understands help make inspections more accurate and reduce the subjectivity of individuals’ judgments.

A good tip for helping your staff on using condition ratings is to provide pictures of components in each condition.

#4: Make inspection data easier to digest

Condition ratings help you see the big picture at your property.

By indicating the condition rating of each component in your inventory, you’ll have a 30,000-foot view of your property’s condition that you can understand by quickly glancing at the document.

This helps with strategy and efficiency.

#5: Make prioritizing and budgeting easier

By combining condition ratings with other risk management and cost evaluation tools, you’ll be able to set the right priorities and make useful budgets.

Ratings not only make the process easier for you, but they help with communicating with ownership as well.

Western Expands Roofing Business in Kansas City Area with Acquisition of Great Plains Roofing and Sheet Metal

Western Specialty Contractors has acquired the assets of full-service, commercial roofing and sheet metal contractor Great Plains Roofing and Sheet Metal of Kansas City, KS. The acquisition will expand Western’s existing roofing business in the Kansas City area and provide Western’s customers with a more comprehensive range of roofing, concrete, masonry and waterproofing services.

“The acquisition of Great Plains expands our roofing services in Kansas City and broadens our customer base. Customers benefit from ‘one-stop-shopping’ for all their building envelope needs that the combined companies provide. Western and Great Plains both have long track records of success and share a passion for forming long-term partnerships with their customers – traits that are beneficial to everyone involved,” said Western Specialty Contractors COO Tom Brooks.

Between 60-70 skilled tradespeople and several office personnel at Great Plains Roofing will join Western with the acquisition. Great Plains owners Jay Harrington and Kevin Scanlon have agreed to stay on throughout the transition process to ensure a smooth and seamless transition with the operations of the company and their customer base. Once the transition is complete, both owners plan to retire.

Established in 2004, Great Plains offers a number of roof systems to meet various requirements, including: mechanically fastened and adhered TPO roof systems; mechanically fastened, adhered and ballasted EPDM rubber roof systems; modified bitumen hot and cold applied roof systems; built-up asphalt surfaced and gravel surfaced roof systems; and standing seam metal roof systems.

In addition to new and remedial roofing, Great Plains also offers an in-house sheet metal fabrication facility capable of complex projects in a wide variety of sheet metal materials that works in conjunction with a team of seasoned installers.

To wrap up the full-service roofing support, Great Plains also provides 24-hour emergency repair services. Leaders for each of Great Plains’ business units (roofing, sheet metal and repair) will report to Western Specialty Contractors Region Manager Bob Gender.

Western Specialty Contractors also has a Kansas City Branch Office, established in 1945, that provides concrete and masonry restoration, epoxy and chemical grout injection, expansion joint systems, exterior wall coatings, parking and plaza deck restoration, and waterproofing.

Roofing Roundtable: Critical Developments in the Roofing Industry You Need to Know About

Roofing Roundtable

Maintaining the roof on any building or facility can be an arduous task for any building owner or property manager.

The roof, often the first line of defense against the elements, is an important structure that must be carefully monitored and maintained to protect the overall integrity of the building.

Leaks in roofs are often difficult to track down and can lead to damage to interior finishes, unhappy tenants and costly repairs.

This week, we asked three of our roofing branch managers about critical elements in the roofing industry that people need to know about. Here's what they came up with:

Keegan Tune, Kansas City Roofing Branch Manager

Roof coatings have increased significantly but are not suitable for every roof and certainly not in every situation.

Coatings have also made it possible for some less qualified contractors to tackle projects that they don't have the expertise to perform.

R-value requirements are continually increasing so being aware of local codes, and compliance needs are key.

Jack Schneider, St. Louis Roofing Branch Manager

Recent changes in the energy code laws, some states have adopted, others haven’t (i.e., R-30 insulation code above roof deck).

Carlisle Syntec Systems has introduced the “Velcro” roofing system — no adhesives to bond membrane to insulation. Carlisle Syntec Systems has approved the material Cav Grip III to install EPDM membrane in the field and flash onto walls.

Mike Boyle, Peoria Roofing Branch Manager

Roof coatings over existing roofing with long-term NDL warranties are becoming more prevalent.

New products are out that minimize or stop any odors from entering the building through air intakes and openings.

In some cases, “R” values can be increased without raising units and mechanical equipment by using a new insulation material.