Maintenance Of Building Important
NST By Prof Bill Hamilton and Dr Wan Salleh Wan Ibrahim are with the Faculty
of Architecture, Planning and Surveying, UiTM.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, --The report under the headline "Act to oversee
condition of buildings" (NST, May 29) was so brief that readers could be
excused for not having read it, or if they had, could make little of it. Yet
it may be a milestone leap to the local construction current practice, also
to academics in the local institutions of higher learning.
What was reported was that an Act to be called the Commissioner of Building
Act was to be tabled by the Housing and Local Government which, if we may
interpret it correctly, will put a lid on the number of developers who
abandon their projects and those who do not have the necessary credibility
to implement development projects professionally in terms of building
The Bill, which subsequently will become an Act, will be one that will have
wide usage and implications for the next 30 to 40 years.
The Strata Title (Amendment) Act 2000 that was recently passed was not
addressing the same problem, and the soon-to-be-introduced Commissioner of
Building Act will not in any way supplant it.
Subject to further clarification from the proper authorities, it may be
timely to review the need and demand for, and the provision of, competent
personnel able to assess the condition of buildings.
Lately building professionals have widely used the term "intelligent
buildings" to denote integrated planning and designing, systems for a total
quality approach that will optimise resources for effective management,
maintenance and performance of buildings.
Malaysia has not been slow in developing buildings in this category (Petronas
Twin Towers, KLIA, Cyberjaya, etc).
The City Council of Kuala Lumpur has put up its own classification list of
buildings categorised for such purposes. However few buildings in Malaysia
belong to this category.
Buildings need systematic management and regular maintenance, otherwise they
rapidly degenerate to become liabilities.
Electricity for air-conditioning, artificial lighting, and increasing use of
electrical appliances result in spiralling costs to sustain creature
Flat-roofed buildings, inspired by the industrialised west's construction
techniques, need special attention to be free of leaks and algae growth in
our tropical rains and high humidity.
Low-cost flats and apartments are vulnerable to constant breakdown of lifts,
toilets and refuse collection, partly through excess use, lack of servicing
and civic consciousness. Many of our once beautiful planned landscapes have
become eyesores. The list of maintenance work needed seems endless.
In Malaysia, the idea of a scientific and systematic facility audit for
performance, effectiveness and efficiency is in its infancy. When the
economy is booming, costly repairs and maintenance may be done as a routine
exercise, but when the reverse occurs, too often only emergency maintenance
and repair is undertaken.
In hospitals, educational institutions and government offices, old furniture
needs to be systematically "condemned" to justify new procurement orders.
Workers require to be retrained to meet new work processes, new regulations,
and threat of change through outsourcing, and benchmarking of their work
Here again many of our services and procedures require to be reviewed and
What arises then, is the question of how the situation can be improved and
who can be relied upon to do the work effectively?
We can respond to these questions at two levels.
At the repair and maintenance level, the new crop of graduates in Building
Surveying have followed a course of study designed to look after the
existing and rapidly growing building stock of the country.
Their core studies cover building technology, science of materials and
building services, with particular emphasis on building pathology, i.e. the
diagnosis, prognosis and remedy of building defects including the costs to
Their five-year course takes in the basic principles of architecture,
planning and structural design and provides a detailed knowledge of the
Add studies in information technology, principles of valuation, contract
documentation and professional ethics and you have candidates with the
education and skills to deal with and manage problems a client may have
regarding repair and maintenance work in domestic, commercial and industrial
buildings, old and new.
Property managers also get involved in maintenance management but at a much
more general level than building surveyors, and predominantly for the
purpose of valuation, rating and leasing of property.
The maintenance of specialised mechanical and electrical services and
equipment, for example lifts, central air-conditioning plant, mechanical
ventilation and automatic controls, passes to the expertise of the
mechanical and electrical engineers while serious structural faults, above
and below ground level, are covered by civil/structural engineers.
At the second level, where we look to top management to relate company
strategies to oversee buildings and the integration of the necessary
services together with the people working in these buildings, all to achieve
the goals of the company, then we think in terms of Facilities Management.
Facilities Management is about able leadership. It is about good
co-ordination of activities and is about the provision of good
communications and interaction of people within the organisation.
It seeks to provide quality and value management through more informed
business decisions based on the best information available. Modern
technology and communications play a major role in Facilities Management.
The role of strategic decisions includes management of life cycle costs of
facilities associated with the competitive position of the business unit;
creation of a work environment (productive and/or service oriented) to
achieve customer satisfaction; provision of flexible infrastructure, space
and services to respond to change of business or public service needs;
innovation in product or service to enable future strategic contribution to
business performance; awareness of community and environmental needs.
In short, the Facilities Manager's job is to provide effective management to
improve business performance, cognizant with the needs of people and local
Currently, there are a number of management consultancy groups in Malaysia
who operate mainly in non-core services areas such as security, health and
safety, energy efficiency, and use the title of Facilities Managers.
They offer to optimise costs and improve service levels to help the
organisation achieve competitive advantage.
There is an increasing demand for Facilities Management in Malaysia and as
we drive to achieve our Vision 2020, the trend in Facilities Management is
likely to continue. The development of the intelligent city at Cyberjaya is
taking Facilities Management to even higher levels.
Educational provisions in Facilities Management is considered more
appropriate at post-graduate level in view of the nature and scope of the
role of Facilities Manager.
Currently, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is offering this course and
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) is scheduled to start its course in
September 2001. Both provisions are offered by full-time or part-time
Having reported on all this, it is to be hoped that those forming the
required legislation for the Act to oversee the conditions of buildings are
aware of these recent developments. If they have not, then a proper grace
period should be given so that interested parties may be given the
opportunity to make timely input before the Act is finalised.