Renovating an old house has really give me some insight into how the proper care of a building really matters as to how the building functions and looks.
In the first article of this series, Should Form Follow Function?, I mentioned the renovation project of an older house to be used as a place for people to be set free from drug addiction.
The house built in the early 1900’s has a boiler system for radiant heat. A few months ago when we fired up the system we learned proper maintenance had not been done on the system for years or perhaps ever. The house had gone without heat over the winter and the pipes near the exterior of the house froze. We we fired the system up to test, let’s just say we found water shooting out of the system.
Repairing it was costly and the problem could have easily been avoided by simply opening the drain valve on the system and letting it drain before the cold weather came. I wish the previous owner had done that!
Have a plan
At its core facility maintenance is simple. I am not saying it is easy, but it is simple. You need to know your equipment and take care of it. Really it is that simple. Just like the oil in your car needs to be changed on a regular basis. Your facility needs care on a regular basis. Additionally regular physical inspection can often lead to seeing problems before they become major issues.
Fund the plan
In order to do scheduled maintenance you need to fund it. In addition to putting money into the budget for scheduled maintenance you should also create a replacement fund, often called a sinking fund. There are known life cycles of equipment and building materials. Roof shingles are rated for a number of years. Carpeting wears out after so much wear and tear and so many years. Plan for replacement of key components of your facility. Replacement costs and repairs should not come as a complete (unfunded) surprise.
Hold somebody accountable
Holding someone accountable is where things generally break down. Committees and self appointed leaders love to talk about problems. The seem to like even more complaining with things fail, searching for someone to blame. Instead of talking about it or blaming someone, put someone incharge and empower them to take care of it. With the empowerment also comes
the accountability. A committee should meet and guide the person who is responsible and additionally the need to hold that person accountable.
As in everything always strive for excellence
The real goal I believe is to do the best you can, with what you have, every chance you get. So sticking your head in the sand is not an option. Maintenance is a real issue that affects not only your facility, but that also represents the excellence of your ministry.