Home » To maintain, or not to maintain? Why repairs and maintenance is still the right answer

To maintain, or not to maintain? Why repairs and maintenance is still the right answer

Published: 23/05/2023

With maintenance costs set to rise this year, it’s no surprise that organisations are feeling the pressure to cut expenditure.

However, although pressures on budgets may tempt organisations to cut costs in this area it’s always a false economy – here’s why repairs and maintenance should still be factored into any budget.

Planned property maintenance can help to prolong a building’s lifespan and avoid disrepair

Over the past decade, several West End theatres have attracted publicity for all the wrong reasons due to their ceilings collapsing.

The causes may vary – in the case of Apollo Theatre the factors that contributed to the incident were heavy rainfall and the deterioration of wadding ties.

But it’s likely these incidences could have been avoided, or at least mitigated, with the help of a planned repairs and maintenance programme.

Although budgeting for planned maintenance may be costly upfront, it will mitigate against loss of revenue and un-foreseen large expenditures – Apollo Theatre remained closed for over three months.

Planned maintenance could help to decrease the number of legal claims or litigation against an organisation

The well-publicised case of two-year-old Awaab Ishak is a tragic example of what can happen when housing associations fail to act on health and safety issues raised by residents.

The court’s verdict, which ruled that Awaab died from prolonged exposure to black mould, has prompted many councils and housing associations to review and address their maintenance schedules.

And as the government looks set to toughen regulation on social housing, procedures to treat and prevent mould could become as mandatory as annual boiler servicing and electrical checks.

Applying for maintenance funding could alter the distribution of risk

Ordinarily, once an organisation has surveyed its portfolio of properties, it will outline a planned schedule of maintenance. Sometimes – in the case of the public sector – they’ll need to identify revenue funding to ensure repairs and preventative measures can be carried out.

A robust cost plan can help with two things: it can provide justification for funding but also give some protection against legal claims – i.e., if funding isn’t awarded and the building fails because maintenance wasn’t carried out, the responsibility could lie with the organisation which grants funding, rather than the body responsible for maintenance.

Repairs and maintenance is intrinsic to maintenance backlog

A planned programme of repairs and maintenance encourages organisations to make better, informed decisions about the projects that need to be prioritised in their maintenance backlog and what they can and can’t afford.

For example, it may be cheaper in the short term to patch up a roof each year but over a ten-year period it could be more cost-effective to replace it.

It’s worth noting that many of these decisions will be based on what an individual or organisation considers to be a viable building – these tend to be subjective and based on a variety of different circumstances.

Although, in some cases there are fears there could be dire consequences, if these decisions aren’t made – last year, the Department of Education admitted in its annual report that ‘there is a risk of collapse of blocks in some schools that are at, or approaching, the end of their designed life expectancy.’

Regulatory changes and standards in the public sector have a knock-on effect in the private sector

The obligations of private landlords and local authorities tend to vary, due to lease-length. Local authorities often have a longer-vested interest in maintaining public housing or buildings. In contrast, some private landlords don’t regard their property as a long-term investment, so they may not consider repairs and maintenance to be essential.

However, any technical standards or legislation that’s brought in for the public sector – such as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act and, most recently, Awaab’s Law, a new amendment to the Social Housing Regulation Bill – tends to be replicated in the private sector. Therefore, private landlords may have to fulfil tighter regulations on disrepair too.

Plan property maintenance to avoid problems down the line

Any person or organisation who owns or maintains a building, has a responsibility to maintain it and ensure it conforms to a certain standard and level of regulatory requirements.

A planned maintenance programme helps to ensure that a building or property is fit for human habitation and lettable. It will also mitigate against unexpected expenditure and help an organisation avoid loss of income or litigation.


An estimating expenditure tool which helps facility managers and surveyors find maintenance and operating costs. It includes component costs, maintenance costs, wages and day rates.

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