9 Things Every Facility Manager Should Know: Part 1

By Michael S. Teller, A.I.A., NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, President

In this three-part series we will be covering the nine things that every facility manager should know:

1.  Stains:

Any time the exterior of the building begins changing color or developing a stain of any type, there is likely some deficiency in the building envelope.  For example, white stains on brick, called efflorescences, are an indication that excessive water has entered the system.  Masonry is designed to absorb water and then have it evaporate, eventually, due to thermal cycles.  However, if an extraordinary amount of water has been absorbed into the system, it must exit and often brings with it calcium, salts, and lime from the mortar, in very fine particles.  These particles eventually accumulate on the surface of the brick as white stains.  If you see white stains, it is time to investigate a water leak in the adjacent area because the water is likely doing more damage to the internal structure of the building than is evident from the exterior.  Green or black stains also indicating excessive moisture in the wall assembly which will allow organic growth on the surface of the material.  This condition should also be investigated.

2.  Plans and Specifications:

In order to receive bids for any construction project,
regardless of size, it is important that each bidder receive the complete scope of the work and parameters of the job in the form of plans and specifications.  These need not be overwhelming documents, but their importance cannot be
overstated.  Asking three roofers for a price on a replacement job will not result in “apples to apples” bids unless they are each looking at the same document and bidding on the same products.  It becomes difficult for any Facilities Manager to sort out individual contractor quotes that are not uniform, which takes up valuable time and results in confusion.  With a uniform set of plans and specifications, uniform bidding documents, including bidding forms, each of the contractor’s proposals can be evaluated equally.

3.  Get Professional Help:

As a Facility Manager, your job is to act as the Owner on the project representing the interests of your company or institution.  Usually you are not expected to be the architect or
the engineer, whose job is to evaluate the technical aspects of the project and prepare scope documents that will define the work for the contractor.  As importantly, the operative word in facility manager is “manage” and so much of the time your task focuses on schedule and budget.  While you likely have industry experience, you cannot be expected to know (or have the time) to deal with all the technical aspects of every part of the building.  Calling in the right consultant, to assist, is part of the job.  Finding a consultant that you are comfortable working with, that responds in a timely manner, and that puts your interest ahead of their own is key to a successful relationship.  Don’t be afraid to call an expert.  After all, you wouldn’t go into court without an attorney, and you certainly wouldn’t to surgery on yourself.  Why begin a construction project without the one professional trained to represent your interests in a building project?

Be sure to subscribe to this blog (if you haven’t already) so you don’t miss Parts II and III!