What is Planned Preventative Maintenance of a building?

Business Insights

Planned preventative maintenance for a building or commercial site involves developing long-term maintenance strategies. These strategies allow property-owners to budget for costs over the coming years and ensure that their property remains safe, structurally sound and efficient.

What is Planned Preventative Maintenance?

Planned preventative maintenance (or ‘PPM') is maintenance that has been anticipated and then scheduled to be carried out on a regular, proactive basis. It helps prevent failure of any of the elements within and outside a building, reduces unexpected repair costs and minimises unplanned downtime for remedial works.

PPM normally involves using a documented strategy that has been developed by building surveyors. They assess the current condition of the property and advise on the maintenance required to keep the building at the required standard.

PPM schemes are normally used for commercial properties, rather than home maintenance. However, this process can also be useful for managing large residential buildings such as apartment blocks, or complex heritage properties.

PPM can apply to equipment as well as buildings – this is normally done by specialist engineers and is outside of the scope of this article.

Why is Planned Preventative Maintenance important?

Developing a PPM strategy and carrying out proactive maintenance requires investment of time and money, so what are the benefits? Firstly, keeping your property in good condition means that your business will be running safely and efficiently. Staff will not be hindered by broken or inadequate facilities, and the chances of something failing and resulting in business interruption are greatly reduced.

PPM can also save you money in the long run. It is usually cheaper to maintain real estate than the reactively repair issues. Any downtime can be planned and scheduled for minimum impact, rather than being unplanned, inconvenient, and potentially lengthy.

Taking good care of the elements of your property can also prevent consequential damage; for example, internal damp as a result of perished mortar or roof leaks.

Finally, a PPM plan allows you to budget for the works required to your property, rather than being faced with unexpected repair bills.

What is a Planned Preventative Maintenance Schedule?

PPM is usually done with the aid of a PPM schedule; that is, a document that sets out the works and maintenance needed over a set period of time. This typically covers the next 10–15 years, but can be to any timescale.

A PPM schedule indicates condition of each element, the severity of each issue and the urgency of remedial work and maintenance. Condition is often rated from ‘good' through to ‘poor', whereas the severity grading typically uses a traffic light or number system. Timeframes are similarly graded from urgent and immediate through to short, medium and long term.

A PPM schedule will also include estimated budgets required to maintain each item in each year. These will either be ‘day one' costs, i.e. the present-day costs of the items of work, or can be indexed to allow for predicted inflation.

The PPM schedule will also include estimates for contingency and anticipated professional fees for managing any works.

Developing a Planned Preventative Maintenance Schedule: Key Considerations

The development of the PPM strategy should consider the needs of the business, including the impact of downtime, the use of the building now and in the future, and the budget available at the time of the survey and in the future.

Another key aspect is evaluating the consequences of delaying repair against the need to allocate budget across several years. Balancing costs in this way can take careful consideration and requires a thorough understanding of the business' use of the premises.

The potential for cost-savings by grouping works to take advantage of economies of scale should also be taken into account. Carrying out some low priority works early can often save money in the long run if they can be done in conjunction with other more urgent works. Examples of savings include contractors only needing to be on site once, or using the same scaffolding for different works. These synergies can be found within one site, or across properties if your business owns several in close proximity.

Finally, following industry standards is crucial for producing a successful PPM schedule. The RICS guidance note "Planned Preventative Maintenance of Commercial and Residential Property" (February 2022) is the gold standard for best practice in PPM.

For further information and professional advice on PPM schedules, contact Allcott Commercial RICS Building Surveyors.