Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

SPR 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 9 of 31

8 the Professional Engineer Spring 2014 P icture this: It's the middle of the coldest winter in a decade, and the nearly 20-year- old furnace in your home has stopped working. Its components are aged, and its technology is dated. Repair costs are feasible, but the fx will only extend what the repair technician calls "borrowed time." A new furnace is costly and not in your budget; however, it would be more efcient and won't require repairs for some time. You are faced with a not so simple decision. You can: A) repair the unit and allow it to run at reduced efciency, curbing family member complaints and hoping it continues to operate; B) "borrow" money from the household budget to replace it with a newer model, banking on long-term savings and peace of mind; or C) turn the unit of and move your family into a hotel or apartment until spring. What is the best choice? Is there really a decision to make? Where would the money come from to replace the furnace or pay for temporary housing? Can you aford to do anything other than make emergency repairs? Businesses and governments are faced with a similar dilemma every year but on a much graver scale. Te crucial diference between a private home and a government building is that public safety, health and welfare are at risk when large, high-usage structures languish in a state of disrepair. In this article, engineering principles are applied to suggest that delaying repairs and renovations, or deferred maintenance, is far more costly over the life of a building than a planned and funded maintenance and replacement program. By funding phased equipment upgrades and replacements at the appropriate time in a building's life, expensive emergency repairs can be avoided. Looking at state government in North Carolina as a case study: Qualitative analysis strongly suggests that reliable, perpetual funding for scheduled repair and renovation expenditures should be established. Te state is responsible for more than 12,000 buildings, totaling more than 119 million square feet. Te Higher Education Bond of 2000 added more than 100 buildings to the inventory, and new buildings are continuing to be completed and brought online. Te state is responsible for many types of buildings, including historic landmarks, highway department storage sheds and state of the art libraries, laboratories and ofces. Tese assets serve many state agencies and departments, including the University of North Carolina system. As traditional consumers of nearly half the allocated repair and renovation funding each year, the UNC system is by far the largest single entity with assets in the state building inventory. According to a recent report, UNC alone has a backlog of repairs of $2.2 billion through 2013. Extending that value as representative of the state's entire building inventory, the total backlog of repairs is currently estimated to be at least $4.4 billion. Data suggests that tackling this backlog could create or sustain 125,400 construction related jobs. At a minimum, the state should curb this defcit of repairs, because as comedian Will Rogers once said, "If you fnd yourself in a hole, stop digging." Unfortunately, the funding level for repair and renovation of state buildings shows a declining average over the last decade, to the current level of $150 million over two years. Te harsh reality in North Carolina, and many other states and munici- palities throughout the country, is a trend for reduction in R&R funds, which contradicts the trend The cost of doing nothing Why you will pay for delaying repairs and renovations F E AT U R E S T O R Y B y M at t Pa r k e r , P e ; r o g e r W o o d s , P e ; a n d B i l l s M i t h , P e CostNothing_Spring14.indd 8 3/27/14 11:32 AM

Articles in this issue

view archives of Professional Engineers Of North Carolina - SPR 2014