True Cost of Deferred Maintenance

18 April 2011
By Jeff Anderson

For some time there has been debate over the alternative solutions to concrete and structural repair issues. Some argue that treating the visible signs and monitoring them closely is a solution, whilst others put forward the thought that rapid response will ultimately lower the long term costs to the owner.

Whilst the prospect of deferred maintenance holds some allure in terms of the ability to minimise the financial impact in one financial year, studies have shown that longer-term, deferred maintenance increases the cost of repair several-fold. Longer-term, significant damage to the structural steel can have far-reaching structural consequences and can, in fact, cost upwards of $30 billion a year. Most scary of all, this figure represents the cost to the mining industry alone!

There are several reasons that reinforce the importance of undertaking maintenance as required, rather than deferring:

  • Concrete spalling will only lead to further degradation of the building structure
    • Concrete which has concrete cancer allows more water ingress allowing further rusting to occur and can cause internal property damage
  • Concrete which spalls at height can fall from the structure without warning; posing significant safety risks
  • Deferring treatment of the underlying problem in favour of close monitoring and aesthetic treatment will increase the time spent on the problem as over time the attention required increases.
  • Long term damage to the structure of the building can have a negative impact on the value of the property.
    • For body corporates, or owners looking to sell, loss of capital can further offset any ‘savings’ achieved in the short term.

At the end of the day, the decision of whether to treat the underlying causes or to put it off is a subjective one. Sure facts can be useful in making the decision, but ultimately, the decision will be made in light of other opportunity costs which may be forgone. At Remedial, we would just caution you to think about the financial and structural effects putting maintenance off can cause.