ST. LOUIS—Winter is here, but is your hotel ready for the big chill? Regular structure maintenance checks are key to preventing costly repairs in the future.
“Maintenance of buildings or structures—whether it be the interior or exterior, horizontal or vertical construction, or a high-rise or single-story—is a necessity across the country,” said Bob Gender, branch manager, Western Specialty Contractors. “Many times, a quick check today on your properties can help save building owners and managers headaches during the harsh winter months ahead when getting repairs done can be complicated by low temperatures.”
Western Specialty Contractors’ clients include properties across the Hilton, Wyndham, Holiday Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Quality Inn brands. It is imperative to hotel owners and facility managers to hire the right contractor for the job. “Regardless of the quality or cost of a system, it’s only as effective as the caliber of its installation and maintenance,” said Gender. “A specialty contractor focuses on a particular area of construction, such as masonry, HVAC, framing, etc. They have the most expertise and experience for the task they’re hired to perform.”
Even the best built structures break down over time. A preventative program must be in place for a building’s exterior components, which may vary based on size, number of different materials and components, geographic location and personnel available to maintain it.
“Preventative maintenance keeps the building off of the deferred maintenance path, which usually results in significant restoration costs,” he said. “A maintenance plan and annual building inspection will prevent structural failures and promote safer buildings. Plus, a well-maintained hotel helps to attract and keep customers.”
Gender explained that the first thing hotel owners should consider is climate. “A Minnesota winter is very different from a Texas one,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘How long are the winters? How cold does it get? How often does it snow?’ A second thing to consider is when does it start to get colder than 40 degrees? A lot of construction materials require certain temperature conditions to be installed.”
In addition, timing for an inspection is critical due to labor availability and costs. “Do an inspection fairly soon after winter ends,” he said. “The longer the winter, the more important it is. It can be easy to put this off until fall. Many do, which creates a rush of people trying to get projects done in the late fall. If you don’t do an inspection in early spring, there’s a good chance you’re going to get caught in the pre-winter rush. That can make the cost of your project more expensive because labor costs rise during that time.”
Being organized and documenting findings from a maintenance check is also an important part of the process. “A preventative maintenance program consists of two parts—the inspection and the execution,” he said. “When performing the inspection, it’s extremely important to document the findings and keep them in a consistent format from year to year. It’s also necessary to inspect any work that has been recently performed as those repairs may still be under warranty. The data collected during the inspection should be put into a budget for needed repairs. It’s also important to evaluate the need for protective measures such as sealers or coatings. A specialty contractor with expertise in facade maintenance and restoration, such as Western Specialty Contractors, can offer specific recommendations for repairs.”