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9 Things Every Facility Manager Should Know: Part 3

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

In the final part of this blog series I will discuss items 7, 8, and 9:

7.      Code Analysis:

Before any project starts, a thorough code analysis should be performed regardless of the scale of the project.  New buildings, of course, require a zoning analysis to determine the maximum area and height of any new structure as well as its proximity to its neighbors.  The building code has much to say about types of building construction, and whether or not the structure must be protected, which is a different concept from fire protection which is usually sprinklers.  (We recommend every building have sprinklers, from a life safety standpoint, as well as a way to reduce insurance costs by protecting your assets.)  Renovation projects require no less diligence in the code analysis process.  Many states require that the renovation of a space or system meet current codes while the rest of the structure may remain unchanged.  There are also codes which require that after a certain threshold (such as spending $100,000 or 1/3 of the building’s value, for example) certain code requirements are to be implemented, such as handicap accessibility, seismic bracing, or sprinklers.  Even roofing replacement must address the code for current energy conservation requirements, wind uplift resistance, and fire ratings.

8.      Rusting Steel:

When steel is exposed to water it corrodes and expands.  Steel can expand to up to seven times its original thickness during this process and there is no material used in modern construction that can withstand those forces.  Steel encased in masonry and concrete will eventually swell and expand, moving out all the material around it.  Steel has been known to lift entire sections of buildings; or, when the mass of a structure is so great above, move outwards causing bulging and in some cases, pushing material out onto the sidewalk.  You’ve heard news accounts of people getting killed in Chicago and New York City from falling bricks.  Many times this is prompted by rusting steel over windows or in the building structure.  Any time you see cracks in the building, you should initiate an investigation as to its source.  Anytime it involves rusting steel, the steel should be exposed, treated, and waterproofed.

9.      Maintenance Free:

As a Facility Manager, your goal should be to have a maintenance free facility.  Although we know this goal is difficult to attain, decisions for implementing repairs and new materials should keep maintenance in mind.  New windows, for example, that have an exposed wood finish and need to be painted will need to be addressed every five years.  The question should be asked, can the wood be covered with a painted aluminum or can the windows be made of a fiberglass or a vinyl product that requires little maintenance.  If your facility has the funding, the resources, and the will to maintain the renovations currently being implemented on the various parts of your real estate inventory, this is not an issue.  However, it is likely a huge concern for every institution and must be addressed.