Façade Maintenance Tool Kit: #1 The Asset Inspection Platform

This blog is the first in a series that will look at some of the tools available to facilities managers to help them understand the condition and needs of their high-rise façades.

Why façade systems need maintenance

The reasons to maintain are numerous but the most compelling incentives are probably the avoidance of liability and retention of value. Take a look at the Time and Gravity Bite blog for more information on why maintenance matters and what can happen when you don’t have a proper inspection and repair regime in place.

Having established façade maintenance is important and shouldn’t be avoided, let’s take a look at how we can get to know the façade better.

The Asset Inspection Platform

Asset Inspection Platforms are like BIM (Building Information Modelling) for the outside of a building. There are so many benefits to using an Asset Inspection Platform (AIP) but it’s important you choose the correct one. Not all platforms are created equally and there is no money to waste on bad choices when it comes to façades.

Sky Viewer from Sky Map is an excellent platform. A model of the building exterior can be produced (façades and roof) using images and data collected by a drone. The images get stitched together so you can see the full façade and you can zoom in and out of the individual images easily to look at components in more detail.

Sky Viewer lets me do an initial inspection of the façade/roof from my desk. Even as an abseiling surveyor, I absolutely love this. It lets me understand the condition of the façade in a cost effective and no-risk way. Looking over the model, I can carefully select the exact areas I want to abseil to get more information and this keeps the amount of abseiling needed to a minimum. Being able to see the building virtually also helps with planning an abseil inspection – a big safety plus.

Other benefits to having a good AIP are:

Centralised Data Storage – You can’t use information if it isn’t stored in a place people can access. I sometimes find the reports I prepare get lost in the abyss and a new facilities manager will have no idea there have been investigations, reports or repair methodologies prepared. Likewise, information gathered by a Contractor gets lost when this could help with future repairs. Platforms like Sky Viewer allow all reports, scopes, drawings etc. to be stored alongside the model. You can even tag different repair methodologies to specific locations on a façade so the Contractor knows exactly what work is required and where.

Repair & Maintenance Progress and Quality Monitoring – When work is underway, the Contractor can take pictures of their work and, thanks to the wonders of GPS, the picture can be tagged onto the model so the rest of the team can see where work has been completed and if it has been done correctly.

Defect/Leak Reporting – The platform is a really easy tool for everybody to use. So, if the window cleaner spots something they aren’t sure about, they can take a picture which gets tagged to the correct location on the model and the Surveyor can take a look and decide what happens next. Best of all, if repairs or investigations are needed, you know exactly where to go and you don’t have to spend hours abseiling an elevation looking for a defect.

Updates – It’s easy to keep the model current. The full building can be remapped with the drone or just specific areas. The drone operator can retrace the exact path the drone took the first time the building was surveyed and this gives you a chance to see what has changed.

I have to confess, my dream buildings to work on are those with an AIP. Everything from inspections, investigations, repairs, maintenance and monitoring is easier. This is because the whole team can use, and contribute to, the model. It also provides a place where we can all store reports and images. The efficiencies the platform brings have a direct impact on costs, so it’s worth the investment.

Some models I’ve seen lack the attributes and functionality I need to perform my role. So, if you think an AIP might be a good option for your building, remember to run it past your Building Surveyor and your Maintenance Contractor first.

By Victoria Richardson

Next blog in the series – Façade Maintenance Tool Kit: #2 The Forward Maintenance Plan