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M|O Perspectives

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Drip, drip, drip: Why you can’t disregard maintenance

January 15th, 2020

“Pay me now or pay me later…” A commercial from the early 70s made this phrase popular. And when it comes to the maintenance of building systems, the adage is still true today. You can pay incrementally now to preserve the life of a structure — or pay big later when you least expect it.

Buildings begin to deteriorate from the minute they are completed. No matter how well a building is built, it’s just physics that materials break down over time. And while a building can look pretty good for a long time with little or no maintenance effort, money spent on upkeep is rarely wasted.

Roofing is a good example of a building system that benefits from a little cash infusion from time to time. Most people don’t give much thought to their roofs until they see a weather report forecasting the first rainstorm of the season. That’s usually too late to begin the kind of annual planning that can prolong the life of a highly exposed roof. In fact, often the things that create expensive problems during and after a rainstorm are small and seemingly insignificant before the drops begin.

Unfortunately, roofing and building maintenance can be boring and not an area owners and managers are motivated to prioritize or focus time and resources on. But of course, just because something isn’t exciting doesn’t mean that it can be ignored. Making the right decision from a financial and operational standpoint means staying well out in front of building maintenance issues.

Better yet, if you can schedule regular maintenance the savings might surprise you. Performing quarterly roof maintenance, for example, can cost just fractions of a dollar per square foot per year. Compare that to the high cost of electrical or structural repairs resulting from leaks and you quickly will see the monetary benefits of staying proactive.

Adding regular building maintenance reviews to your seasonal checklist is essential if you want to avoid expensive problems down the road. And look on the right side: when addressed upfront, many of these are easily solvable.

At Marx|Okubo we know buildings. We are constantly involved in how to design, construct, maintain and upgrade buildings so that our clients’ investments are as efficient and long-lived as possible. Have questions about building maintenance? Let’s talk.

Contact: Gary Cohn with any questions at

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Marx|Okubo is a national architecture/engineering/construction consulting firm that works with real estate owners, investors and lenders—at every point of the property lifecycle—to evaluate their building projects, solve complex challenges and implement tailored solutions. We help clients understand their projects’ complexities, so they can make more informed decisions and, ultimately, mitigate their risk.