Build Your Exterior Maintenance Budget

Last month we prioritized outdoor maintenance tasks; this month we’re teaching you how to budget for them.

Build Your Exterior Maintenance Budget

When budgeting for any business setting, it’s important to plan ahead. However, facility managers and building service contractors know how difficult it can be to determine a budget and stick to it. An organization’s or client’s goals may change throughout the year, and it’s nearly impossible to foresee expenses that can arise from workplace or building structural issues and natural disasters—especially when they pertain to your facility’s exterior.

While you cannot predict the future, trying to budget the money for it will ensure your facility receives the routine care it needs. When creating a budget for your exterior maintenance plan, consider the following steps:

Check Your Records

If you’re not sure where to start, refer to the data you have on hand as a first step. Looking at past expenses and maintenance projects will help you get a better understanding of which building areas typically receive the most time and resources and how your facility is spending resources on exterior maintenance projects. Use this information to create or update your company’s maintenance log and continue to monitor all repairs and routine services.

Build the foundation of your budget by:

  1. Pinpointing what exterior areas need attention, the time of year to address them, the frequency, and how much the projects cost. This will help to calculate how much you can expect to spend on each maintenance project.
  2. Think about the dollar amount you’re willing or able to spend on exterior maintenance for one year. Do all of the expenses from bullet point No. 1 require attention, or are there some areas where you can scale back? Keep this in mind as you move to the next step.
  3. Note larger renovations your facility is planning five years from now.

Redefine Your Line Items

Examine where you’ve spent your money in the past and break future purchases into categories to highlight where you can make cuts and where you can afford to make investments. Set up three overarching categories: routine care, repairs, and renovations.

Once you’ve divided your expenses among these categories, determine if you’re spending more money on repairs than on routine maintenance.If so, you may want to incorporate more routine services into your exterior maintenance budget to offset any large repair bills down the line. For example, budgeting to service an HVAC unit once or twice per year will be less expensive in the long run than repairing or replacing the unit due to negligence. Budgeting to caulk cracks in the building exterior can also help to prevent interior damage from leaks.

Consider Your Priorities

Once you’ve reviewed your past exterior renovations and repairs, take into consideration the building areas that are the biggest priority to you and your tenants. With safety being a top priority, sidewalks and parking lots should be first in line for routine services, such as pavement resurfacing, crack sealing, and parking lot space restriping. Allocate the money for these expenses first.

After addressing areas that have a direct impact on workplace and building occupant safety, allocate resources to building improvements or repairs associated with preventative maintenance (roofing, exterior walls, entryways) and work your way down to the tasks that help with the general appearance of the property (landscaping, pressure washing).

When determining your priorities, be sure to set aside improvement projects that may not be immediately necessary. Although upgrades and additions to your building exterior will boost the aesthetics, make sure funds first go to fixing and maintaining the current layout and building foundation.

Create Your Timeline

A large factor affecting your budget planning is your service timeline. Are you taking a reactive approach and scheduling jobs as exterior issues or renovations pop up? This may not be the best way to cut costs. Instead, schedule your services for the beginning of the year based on the best times for routine care and updates.

Consult With Vendors

Reviewing previous vendor relationships and consulting with new professional maintenance companies is another important step in the budget-planning process. After evaluating each vendor that has serviced your facility, you should get a better feel for which companies excelled in timeliness, pricing, responsiveness, and professionalism. If a past vendor relationship didn’t meet your standards, restate your expectations, negotiate your current contracts, or generate new business partners.

Stay on Top of It

Having a solid exterior maintenance plan is an essential part of every building manager’s job. However, creating or redefining the budget behind the plan is the first step to saving money in the long run. Be proactive by having a plan in place at the start of your organization’s fiscal year and continue to monitor and categorize your spending as the year progresses. This will ease the hassle of budgeting and set your team up for long-term success.

Posted On March 6, 2018

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is president of City Wide Maintenance of Indianapolis, IN. Contact him through his website at

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