The Cost of Putting Off Office Maintenance

Managed by Q
June 12, 2019

Similar to the employees who make up your team, your physical office space has health needs that need regular check-ups, too. The difference, though, is that your office can’t take a sick day.

The same way you eat well and visit the doctor to stay healthy, it’s important to keep your office vitals in check. Through the thousands of offices we manage at Q, we see and feel the pain of teams who neglect to keep their physical space in check. Many offices go months and sometimes years without having core systems or appliances inspected, which can lead to major damage or costly (and avoidable) replacements.

Office maintenance numbers don't lie

Research from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) found that maintenance is the third largest office expense, after fixed costs and utilities. Between 2013 and 2014, office repairs and maintenance expenses increased by 6.2%, part of which can be attributed to projects that were put off during the recession. Waiting to address certain improvements worsened the issues and led to more costly repairs.

BOMA also cited rising office density as a contributor to increased maintenance expenses. During the same time period, square footage per office employee fell by 1.5%. More workers in a given space can strain systems as well as the physical office. For example, HVAC systems have to work harder to cool a crowded space, while sinks and toilets run more often.

HomeServe and Harris Poll recently conducted a survey about the financial impact of home repairs. While residential issues tend to be smaller and occur less frequently than those of commercial spaces like offices, the findings illustrate how most maintenance work is rarely expected or budgeted.

The survey found that 69% of homeowners thought it was unlikely that they would experience a major home repair emergency in the next year, but more than 59% reported experiencing one in the previous year. The results also showed that 23% of homeowners have no money set aside for repairs, while 43% have less than $1,000 that could be used for emergency maintenance.

Your office maintenance check-up checklist

Knowing that office maintenance costs are increasing and difficult to predict, we at Q have pulled together a roundup of the most important check-ups for your space. Conducting these easy inspections at least once year can save you and your team from unexpected headaches, as well as costly repairs.

1. Annual appliance service

No one wants to ask for approval to buy a new refrigerator when it wasn’t in the annual budget. Have your appliances cleaned and serviced annually to help them last longer.

This is especially important for office appliances, considering many companies have residential machines, which aren’t designed to meet the high-usage needs of a commercial space.

Dishwashers, for example, require additional service to remove food and detergent build-up so they can run several times a week. Appliances with water or gas hookups also should be checked for safety reasons.

Here’s a glimpse of the cost differential of putting off appliance repair versus conducting a regular inspection:

Estimated Emergency Repair Cost:
New appliance and install: $500 — $5,000+
Varies by brand, size, and if you’re interested in commercial-grade.

Estimated Preventative Cost:
Appliance inspection or maintenance: $160 — $250
For inspection, cleaning, or cost of basic part replacement.

Estimated Savings: $340 — $4,750+


2. Biannual HVAC check-ups

Heating and air conditioning equipment should be checked at least once (if not twice) a year — ideally between prime winter and summer months.

According to research by the EPA, indoor air contains five times more pollutants than outdoor air. The contaminants in the air can cause dirt and debris to collect around critical HVAC components and prevent airflow. In addition to having this buildup removed, you should have your air filters cleaned or replaced regularly.

Set a calendar reminder every 6 months (for the early fall and spring) to check your HVAC, and you could save your office thousands of dollars:

Estimated Emergency Repair Cost:
New HVAC system and installation: $400 — $200,000
Varies by office size (offices of <10 can get away with individual window units), headcount, and building capabilities.

Emergency HVAC repair: $500 — $2,000
For time-sensitive cleaning, part replacement, and system repair.

Estimated Preventative Cost:
HVAC inspection or maintenance: $160 — $2,000
For vent inspection, cleaning, part replacement and system repair.

HVAC filter replacement or cleaning: $160 — $1,000
Varies by time elapsed since your filters were last replaced/cleaned and system usage.

Estimated Savings: $240 — $198,000



3. Quarterly plumbing inspection

Given the heavy use of your office’s plumbing — from your office kitchens to company bathrooms — your fixtures with a water hook-up should be checked regularly to make sure they’re secured and clear. Water damage can be extremely costly, as it can quickly affect other areas of the office.

The most common office plumbing issues we see are toilet-related, which can cause more pressing and disruptive damage to your office. If your plumbing is older, a plumber may be able to extend the life of the system with routine checks.

Estimated Emergency Repair Cost:
Emergency plumbing repair: $160 — $30,000
Varies by number of affected fixtures or hookups, age of system, and if significant replacement parts (or entire systems) are required.

Estimated Preventative Cost:
Plumbing inspection or maintenance: $160 — $800
For fixture or system inspection, cleaning, part replacement and minor system repair.

Estimated Savings: $0 — $29,200


When it comes to the core operating systems of your office, the expression ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ doesn’t apply. We know how office emergencies can interfere with your team’s workflow — and the importance of keeping them at bay. Don’t risk finding yourself in hot — or cold — water due to procrastination.

For more insight into how regular maintenance can save your company money and how you can reduce the cost of office maintenance, read our research report Driving Operational Efficiency in the Office


All cost estimates provided by Managed by Q, Inc. Maintenance Services, 2016. Cost estimates are approximations that may vary by service provider, office space and location.

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