Maintenance and operations (M&O) requirements dominate the life-cycle cost of a school facility. Historically, facility managers have struggled to secure funding to meet these requirements. Many deferred-maintenance issues result directly from M&O underfunding. However, new approaches and technologies now enable facility managers to use cost-effective and repeatable models to project accurate and defensible M&O requirements.

Typically, a facilities manager requests annual M&O funding by adjusting the previous year's spending based on the general economic factors and the financial position of the industry. But this practice can be shortsighted — it ignores the tools and data that can tie M&O funding levels to facility performance over time and can reduce a manager's ability to secure proper funding.

School facilities managers can use a more defensible approach to facility portfolio management — one that reinforces the value of proper funding and the impacts of underfunding. They can take advantage of methods, technologies and data available to assist in such efforts.

Current practices

Facilities managers use several methods to determine annual M&O budgets:

  • Ask for the same budget as last year, adjusted for inflation or for a change in the size of the facility portfolio.

  • Base the budget request on actual expenditures in the M&O categories and use the actuals as a basis for adjustment.

  • Estimate funding for facilities on an equation or square-foot basis that places all costs into a single category. Then calculate the percentage of those funds that are directed to the M&O categories.

  • Determine how much other organizations are spending on M&O.

Unfortunately, none of these methods alone accurately articulates the real M&O funding requirement.

Developing models

Modeling is the use of a representative amount of data to predict the outcome for a large amount of data. When faced with providing a true “needs-based” M&O requirement for a large or diverse facility portfolio, a facilities manager must find a way to base M&O projections on the actual needs of thousands of different systems. Building these projections may be extremely expensive, if not impossible.

However, a facilities manager can determine the typical facility types and sizes with relatively little effort. By finding ways to categorize facilities (e.g., by function and size) and by identifying typical M&O requirements for each category, facilities managers then can use available technology to model accurate M&O numbers. The results can be applied to the total facilities portfolio to determine the aggregate M&O requirement.

A major reason for developing models is to show the true cost of M&O and its effect on facility performance. One must be diligent in documenting this approach over several annual budget cycles. When a facilities manager can articulate needs clearly and can describe the financial impact of preventive-maintenance tasks that were not accomplished, the result can be a favorable response to budget requests.

Once the models are developed, they can become a great asset. With minimal upkeep costs, models can be applied year after year and site after site. They provide an easy way to more clearly define the components of M&O, and can be applied to new and projected construction projects. Over time, by bolting M&O models onto existing computerized maintenance-management systems, a manager can incorporate actual M&O costs over time.

M&O defined

The total M&O model generally would be the sum of these individual components:

  • Recurring maintenance includes work activities that recur based on normal wear patterns on a periodic cycle of greater than one year and less than 10 years. Typical work includes painting, caulking, sealing and carpet replacement.

  • Preventive maintenance includes regularly scheduled maintenance activities (within a year) on selected equipment. Examples: inspection, lubrication and minor adjustments.

  • Unscheduled maintenance includes reactive service calls that can be accomplished by local staff or existing service contractors.

  • Custodial includes services such as sweeping, mopping, trash collection and restroom cleaning.

  • Pest control includes the elimination or restraint of any insect, rodent, nematode, fungus or weed.

  • Refuse collection includes collecting trash from a facility (room collection should be in custodial), placing trash in a dumpster, and disposing of it in an approved landfill.

  • Utilities include services delivered by pipeline or other line. Examples: sewer, water, electricity, natural gas and propane.

  • Site (or infrastructure) requirements include maintenance that is site-specific and is not included in facility tasks. Examples: landscaping, snow removal, tanks and utility line maintenance, and pavement sealing and striping.

The approach

Steps in developing an M&O model:

  1. Categorize buildings into usage (or functional) codes. The activity or work function being performed in the facility affects M&O requirements considerably, and the challenge is to quantify the impact of these activities. Examples of usage codes: research, administration, warehouse, residence hall, library and school.

  2. Determine which room types may drive M&O. Determining basic room uses such as offices, laboratories, warehousing and mechanical rooms is essential to developing custodial models.

  3. Determine the different size ranges of the facilities within each of the usage codes. This can be accomplished initially by determining within each category when size starts to affect the complexity of mechanical and electrical systems. Also, as a facility increases in size, the types of structural and roofing systems become more varied, and interior finishes vary and increase in cost.

  4. Find the facilities within each usage code that are nearest the average of each size range. These facilities will become the basis for the models.

  5. Inventory the dynamic equipment in these facilities, inventory room uses and finishes that would be used in developing the custodial and recurring components of M&O, and gather any historical information on facilities.

  6. Model development:

    • Custodial

      Develop room models as shown in Table 1 (above) to address the custodial component.

    • Preventive maintenance

      Use the dynamic equipment inventory in the development of this model.

    • Utilities

      Evaluate usage records and develop a three- to five-year average consumption, or a range large enough to capture general weather patterns, that can be adjusted for market factors. These factors can be found through several services on the Internet. Use can be developed into a square-foot cost to apply to other facilities in that model usage and size range.

    • Pest control

      Include contracted services that can be modeled based on the inspection and treatment frequencies that apply to the facilities and regional concerns.

    • Refuse collection

      This typically falls into the category of contracted services. This might be based on cubic yards or number of dumpsters to service.

    • Recurring maintenance

      Develop requirements from calculations of inventory for painting, caulking, carpeting, relamping and other activities. Recurring maintenance tasks are not annual activities, but events that happen periodically over a 10-year span; therefore, the cost of these tasks are calculated and annualized over that span to determine annual budget need. (This is much more accurate if you have a large portfolio of facilities in each usage code and size range.) A more accurate way to express recurring maintenance is to gather information as part of a 10-year condition assessment program for all facilities, and report and track the individual facility need as part of M&O.

    • Unscheduled maintenance

      Modeling unscheduled maintenance is difficult. Table 2 (p. 41) illustrates an analysis of a large facility portfolio where unscheduled maintenance values were based on deficiencies that required less than $2,500 each to correct. Several statistical tests were conducted to determine what variables affected the square-foot costs for unscheduled maintenance. The only variable for these facilities was age, and this exhibit reflects a natural rise in cost by age until the 26- to 30-year range, after which the model “adjusts” and starts increasing again.

    • Site or infrastructure

      Develop quantities and tasks from site plans, and apply cost estimates to determine site and infrastructure requirements.

  7. Link the M&O model to the existing computerized maintenance-management systems (CMMS). Once the M&O model has been developed, it can be attached to the existing CMMS to enable users to generate M&O estimates for particular locations or on a facility-by-facility level. It also can be used to look at the implications of various financial scenarios on the facility portfolio over time and adjust M&O estimates to reflect actual costs.

Kincaid, PE, is president and general manager of Applied Management Engineering, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va. Dillinger is vice president, principal and program manager of Carter & Burgess, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas. Clayton is a managing partner at Tonda Technologies, Arlington, Va.



Percentage of total district expenditures spent by school districts on M&O in 2006.

Source: AS&U's 35th Annual M&O Cost Study, April 2006

Typical room model, non-carpeted, 30' × 30' = 900-square-foot floor, 1,200-square-foot wall
BIA Tech. Code Means System Number Description Action Crew Frequency of Occurrence Annual Occurrence
CMOIF02 GM 0185300190 Floor Dust mop 1 Clab. Daily 180
CMOIF01 GM 0185300670 Floor Wet mop 1 Clab. Weekly 40
CBUIF02 GM 0185300860 Floor Spray buff 1 Clab. Monthly 10
CSCIF02 GM 0185301010 Floor Scrub 1 Clab. Semi-annual 2
CSRIF02 GM 0185301100 Floor Strip 1 Clab. Annual 1
CSLIF01 GM 0185301190 Floor Seal/wax 1 Clab. Semi-annual 2
CWWIC01 GM 0185500020 Ceiling Wash 1 Clab. Annual 1
GM 0185400020 Walls, All Surfaces Dust 1 Clab. Monthly 10
CWWIW03 GM 0185400070 Walls, All Surfaces Wash 1 Clab. Semi-annual 2
GM 0185700382 Door, 3' × 7' Clean 1 Clab. Semi-annual 2
CWWWD01 GM 0184800050 Windows, 4' × 5' Wash 1 Clab. Monthly 10
GM 0185600060 Windowsill Dust 1 Clab. Monthly 10
GM 0185700580 Desk, office, 3' × 5' Dust 1 Clab. Weekly 40
GM 0185700580 Desk, student, 2' × 2' Dust 1 Clab. Weekly 40
GM 0185700670 Table, 3' × 5' Dust 1 Clab. Weekly 40
GM 0185700550 Chair, 2' × 2' Dust 1 Clab. Weekly 40
GM 0185700430 Vents Clean 1 Clab. Quarterly 4
GM 0185700407 Light, 2 Tube × 4' Clean 1 Clab. Semi-annual 2
GM 0185700130 Lavatories Clean 1 Clab. Daily 180
GM 0185700170 Soap dispenser Clean 1 Clab. Daily 180
GM 0185700290 Trash cans Empty 1 Clab. Daily 180
GM 0185700205 Mirror, 2' × 3' Wash 1 Clab. Daily 180
CWWMS01 GM 0185700490 Drinking fountain Clean 1 Clab. Daily 180
GM 0185700370 Blackboard, 4' × 10' Clean 1 Clab. Weekly 40
Analysis of a large facility portfolio, unscheduled maintenance (data source: FCIS < $2,500)
Age group Facility age in group Total facility area for age group % of total area Running % total Total Unscheduled Maint. ($) for age group Cost per sq. ft. Applying chart formula Total using formula
1 0-5 173025 1.29 1.29 25077 0.145 0.1954 33,809
2 6-10 1243016 9.27 10.56 405269 0.328 0.3073 381,921
3 11-15 817568 6.1 16.66 393083 0.481 0.4004 327,347
4 16-20 1020725 7.61 24.27 583620 0.572 0.4831 493,149
5 21-25 1173422 8.75 33.02 862346 0.735 0.5589 665,853
6 26-30 974260 7.26 40.28 793672 0.815 0.6296 613,384
7 31-35 1434444 10.7 50.98 941322 0.656 0.6963 998,751
8 36-40 3055843 22.79 73.77 1838522 0.602 0.7597 2,321,525
9 41-45 1208113 9.01 82.78 750720 0.621 0.8204 991,180
10 46-50 715037 5.33 88.11 575299 0.805 0.8789 628,424
11 51-55 146893 1.1 89.21 139538 0.95 0.9353 137,390