The Future of Property Maintenance: HowDigital Twins are Enhancing Building Management

9 Property Maintenance Considerations To Protect Your Assets

Whether you’re managing a rental property or commercial building, property maintenance is crucial to a structure’s longevity and overall profitability. But, with every property being different, often geographically dispersed, and staffing for diagnostic and repair work spread thin, determining what maintenance entails and how to tackle all of it can feel difficult.

Fortunately, there are numerous commonalities across the several types of property maintenance. There are steps you can take to minimize the time and cost of property maintenance, while ensuring your real estate is maintained and profitable in the long haul. 

What is property maintenance?

Buildings rarely last forever, no matter how well they’re built. Weather takes a toll, accidents happen, tenants or even customers are sometimes reckless, and so on. In other words, maintenance is unavoidable. 

Property maintenance is the act of ensuring buildings are maintained and kept in the best condition possible. Property maintenance can be as simple as routine touch-ups to exterior and interior paint in common areas, or as extensive as costly foundation repairs. Regardless of the extent of property maintenance, the end goal is the same: make sure a building lasts as long as possible while minimizing further, more costly damage. 

Property maintenance across a broad portfolio adds the challenge of travel and added time. Remote inspection of your whole portfolio with digital twins can enable faster and more accurate assessments when planning and executing your maintenance program. 

Why is property maintenance important?

It’s easy to put seemingly low-priority maintenance needs on the back burner — HVAC systems slightly overdue for inspection, what looks like vanity cracks in the foundation, gutters in need of cleaning, a light that flickers. But, preventive property maintenance now can save you loads of stress and cash down the road.

Minimize breakdowns and failures

Preventive maintenance is a key component of minimizing structural and equipment breakdowns and failures. While walkthroughs are your first line of defense, preventive maintenance reduces the chances of an issue leading to a more costly repair or total breakdown.

For example, in-depth cleaning of an HVAC system can prevent debris from clogging and completely wrecking a system, getting into the building and collecting on surfaces, and impacting the air quality of the space.

Work with your on-site teams and come up with a preventive maintenance checklist that you or they can run through at regular intervals. Incorporate this list into your walkthroughs, and make sure someone is completing this list even if a tenant isn’t rotating and a walkthrough isn't necessary.

Avoid liabilities

Protecting your structures is a priority, but nothing is more important than tenant safety and avoiding liability-related incidents. Preventive maintenance not only protects your structures and equipment, but also reduces the risk of harm to yourself, your tenants or their customers. 

Simply put, failing to adhere to a maintenance schedule can result in gross negligence that could compromise occupant safety.

Increase property value

Nothing hurts your property value like developing a reputation for having an unsafe building with poor conditions. Conversely, preventive maintenance can help you retain and even increase property value.

By sticking to a strict preventive maintenance schedule, you’re ensuring your buildings are always in the best shape possible. In turn, your buildings will last longer, reduce the likelihood of costly emergency repairs, and keep tenants happy.

Improve tenant satisfaction

Unless bound by strict circumstances, few people are going to stick around a building that’s falling apart. On the other hand, tenants are more likely to stay in your buildings as long as possible if you’re keeping things in great shape.

Improved tenant satisfaction can even help with the aforementioned property value. If you’re doing a great job managing your buildings and keeping them comfortable for tenants, people are more likely to spread the word. Word of mouth advertising goes a long way, especially in the competitive rental space. As an owner, a property full of paying tenants maximizes your sale value should you choose to put it on the market.

4 types of property maintenance

While the act of property maintenance itself is all about maintaining structures and surrounding areas, there are multiple types of property maintenance that entail different responsibilities and degrees of work. Each one of these property maintenance types is performed at different times and comes with their own set of processes.

1. Routine maintenance

Routine maintenance is the most common type of maintenance. Routine maintenance is performed at regular intervals to ensure a building doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair. This type of upkeep maintenance can also fall under walkthrough inspections, both when a new tenant moves in and again, at scheduled intervals.

Within this type of maintenance are multiple activities:

  • Trash removal

  • Tree trimming/landscaping

  • Fire alarm/carbon monoxide safety check

  • Gutter cleaning

  • Repainting

  • Minor repairs

PlanOmatic, a company that provides property condition reports in the single-family rental industry across the United States, says that digital twins are a must-have for properties moving forward.

The use of digital twins can drastically simplify routine maintenance by making the process more efficient and convenient, all while minimizing disruptions to tenants. With digital twins handy, accurate measurements of a property can be easily accessed without the need for on-site visits. When a property manager or contractor receives a repair request, such as for new flooring or a countertop, the information they need is right at their fingertips. This is particularly valuable when new staff or facilities technicians aren’t yet familiar with the building. 

Having a healthy routine maintenance process is the first step to preserving a building’s longevity.

2. Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is similar to regular maintenance in that it’s done before disaster strikes. But, unlike regular maintenance, preventive maintenance typically requires more time and expertise, as it entails a higher degree of scrutiny and the ability to make specialized repairs.

Takenaka Corporation, Japan’s leading general constructors, improved their facility management processes by using Matterport's Pro2 camera to create photo-realistic 3D virtual walkthroughs as digital twins of completed spaces. This was helpful across a range of activities for preventative maintenance planning, future renovations, remote inspections, staff training, and quality assurance verification.

Higashi Kanto Branch office dollhouse

Takenaka Corporation applied Matterport’s digital twin technology to building conditions assessments and reduced photograph documentation times by almost 90% by reducing the need for extensive on-site work. Read more about Takenaka’s usage of Matterport here.

3. Emergency maintenance & insurance claims

Emergency maintenance or catastrophic repairs are often more expensive than other forms of maintenance, as they usually require extensive repairs and disruption to the occupants. This typically involves collaborating with various parties, external vendors, documentation, and possibly insurance claims. 

Some examples of emergency maintenance include:

  • Plumbing emergencies

  • Electrical emergencies

  • Sudden structural damage

  • HVAC failure

  • Fires and related damage

  • Vertical Transportation failure

When Hurricane Laura caused extensive property damage to The First Baptist Church of Sulphur in Louisiana, Paul Davis Restoration was commissioned to help spearhead their restoration project. In taking on the significant project, Paul Davis Restoration used digital twins to create estimates for emergency claims when physical presence at the property is not possible.

J. Tim Scanlan, an insurance industry veteran, praises Matterport for enabling him to write accurate estimates without being on-site by providing visual evidence and transparency in the estimation process. Overall, Matterport technology has played a crucial role in improving efficiency, collaboration, and accuracy in the restoration and insurance industry.

Keep in mind emergency maintenance can vary depending on the structure, where you live, and a number of additional factors. The best thing you can do is plan for an emergency and ensure you have the proper documentation on hand with digital twins. 

4. Renovation and repair

Renovations are typically planned and occur when you want to increase the overall value of a property, or modernize/improve functionality of a particular element of the structure. Some common renovations include: flooring, lighting, upgrading merchandise display areas, or repainting the interior/exterior.

Swinerton successfully facilitated a full interior renovation of a mass timber building for a client using digital twins. These digital twins allowed for efficient coordination of work around conduits, wiring, and ducts while preserving the wood aesthetics and beam integrity. 

While the use of digital twins was motivated by COVID-19 restrictions, the implementation of this technology is still relevant today as it eliminates the need for in-person meetings and enables quicker issue resolution through targeted questions. This approach accelerated the project by up to four weeks compared to traditional travel-heavy in-person methods. 

Make better property maintenance decisions with digital twins

As shown by the examples above, property maintenance can be very labor-intensive and require a lot of on-site and in-person work. While repairs still require in-person supervision, digital twins can fundamentally change the way properties are maintained and repaired by accelerating the familiarity, and thus the readiness, of the folks on deck to complete the work. 

Digital twins act as a photo-realistic record

Proper maintenance records are essential to successful long-term maintenance and any insurance-related situation.

If you’re trying to prove ongoing maintenance to an insurance company, you typically need to refer to repair receipts, any maintenance logs or records, and blueprints in some cases.

ATI Disaster Recovery Services illustrates how handy the digital twin is in recording the condition before or after an insurance claim. Paper trails leave a lot of opportunity for error and can make it difficult to prove an insurance case, while digital twin documentation brings transparency to all parties involved.

With a Matterport 3D camera, you can quickly scan a location after maintenance is completed to create an updated digital twin. Coupled with any receipts and related documents, you can make a visual and document-backed case to insurance.

Digital twins help identify maintenance needs

The documentation possibilities of Matterport digital twins are enhanced when paired with Matterport Notes. With the Matterport Notes feature, collaborators can quickly tag where certain electrical boxes are, link to CMMS tickets, reference manuals, and more. From there, anyone on your team can access written documents that give context to the spatial data and access what the on-site specialist sees.

This level of detail and collaboration makes it possible to more quickly assess who and how to respond to maintenance needs. For example, when a CMMS ticket is created, a link to the Matterport model allows anyone to immersively understand the area of the building or property even if they’ve never been there before.  Matterport offers a number of compatible 3D cameras that make it possible to quickly and easily capture the level of accuracy required for insurance. And these scans are quick enough that you can complete them as you wrap up a site visit, allowing you to provide before and after scans.


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