Maintenance of Residential Buildings | Types | Objectives | Checklist

Why Inspection & Structural Maintenance is important?

“ Life expectancy “ is not just a term associated with a living, breathing being, but even with an immobile non-living element, like a building. According to researchers, the general lifespan of a concrete building lies in the average range of 75 to 100 years. And for a residential building, this can be even close to 40 years. By which time, complete deterioration can happen in the absence of building maintenance.

Deterioration and spalling of concrete slab in parking lot -
Deterioration and spalling of concrete slab in parking lot due to lack of building maintenance-

Here’s why buildings require aftercare, so importantly –

‘Maintenance’ in civil engineering terms refer to works that are undertaken ensure the functionality and integrity of structural elements. Inadequate building maintenance will demand rehabilitation.

Constructing or purchasing a residential building is a costly investment. Poorly maintained structure can become a financial liability and safety threat. Hence it is important to ensure its serviceability and service life.

Early deterioration of a building can occur due to:

  1. Poor design, detailing and construction.
  2. Severe environmental actions
  3. Substandard construction materials
  4. Unintended use
  5. Poor management

While not all these factors are in our control, with regular inspection and corrective actions, one can ensure that even after it’s service life, a building be functional.

Objectives of Building Maintenance:

1.“Better safe than sorry”

Here is a simple example – Say you wake up one morning to find your bathroom pipe leaking. You are in this rush to office/college that you save the repair for later. On coming back home in the evening, you will be probably greeted by the sight of water soaking your floor carpets, half ruining the legs of your furniture.

Cracking of boundary walls due to soil settlement or foundation on expansive clay -
Cracking of boundary walls due to soil settlement or foundation on expansive clay –

That is when you will come to think that you should have done the mending sooner. Similar is the case with building components. It would be great to fix things up before they start tumbling down without notice.

2. “ Forewarned is forearmed”

The buildings always gives us hints that it’s time to pay attention – for instance, crumbling of plaster in walls or hair line cracks. Ingress of water might be the reason for the former while distress in the elements might root for the latter.

A similar scenario with walls can be blistering, due to the lifting of paint from the surface beneath. If we do not pay heed to this seriously, it can cause peeling of paint – which is aesthetically unpleasant, also exposing the surface for further deterioration.

Peeling of paint in walls and exposure of surface

In addition, addressing the forewarning signs in the building and practicing “preventive maintenance” also relieves later expenditures, economy wise.

Moisture attack in the ceilings

3. “Caution is the parent to safety”

The homes we reside in are considerably our safe shelters. Also, reliability is a term synchronously in use alongside safety. In order to fit this goal, one needs to ensure that the structure is safe and functional.  

For example – hairline crack on window panel can further develop over time. If not immediately repaired, it can potentially cause sudden ruptures and accidents.

Types of Maintenance for Buildings:

Some of the generally used types among these are:

1) Routine or Time based maintenance 

Taking into consideration the age of a residential structure, there can be either “ Fixed time “ or “Condition based” maintenance. While the former vouches for activities of servicing done at pre-specified time intervals, the latter focuses on actions performed after a routine inspection, that pin points certain issues that require immediate fixing.
  • “Fixed time” – Maintenance of heating, cooling and ventilation systems during periodic intervals like cleaning of air ducts every year.
  • “Condition based” – Foundation repairs as per conditional requirements.
Marine Corrosion of handrail baseplate and anchor bolts on Jetty or Pier 3. Corrosion is an important reason for building maintenance
Marine Corrosion of handrail baseplate and anchor bolts on Jetty or Pier 3.jpg –

2) Activity based maintenance 

Either we can shutdown the entire functioning within the building and allot that particular time for complete house maintenance, which is the “Shut down” type. Or “Opportunity based” where work is proceeded alongside fulfilling the operational demands of the household. However, shutdown based comes easy only when unoccupied.


  • “Shut down” – Professional Pest control
  • “Opportunity based” – Repairing of cracks in walls.

3) Need based maintenance

While every type of rehabilitating the structure is based on the need, there are some important types under this category. These are: “Routine or Day to day maintenance” performed on a daily basis, “emergency type” when there is a sudden requirement for the same due to unexpected incidents like a fire outbreak. There is also the “Preventive type” which foresees a problem and initiates operations to tackle it before it’s occurrence.
  • “Routine maintenance” – Servicing of water pipes and plumbing fixtures.
  • “Emergency maintenance” – Replacement of a faulted structural element like a collapsing suspended ceiling after the blow of a calamity.
  • “Preventive maintenance” – Lubrication of doors and windows.
Building maintenance required due to floods
A house requiring emergency maintenance after Kerala floods
(Source: YouTube.Com/ Mirror Now)

Checklist format for Maintenance of Residential Buildings:

A comprehensive checklist is the key for successful maintenance. A maintenance checklist enlists the key elements that demand a close watch for a building.

These checklists again, can be of various types, serving in different contexts – like preventive type, general site or facility upkeep type. Here’s a simple format that may help you –

A general checklist for building maintenance

While there are different formats for service inspection of a residential building, there are certain things you should notice in particular:

  1. Know the design life of elements inside the building prior to inspection.
  2. Having an inspection toolkit.
  3. Knowing the inspection and maintenance frequency.
  4. Understanding rehabilitation and maintenance procedures.

Hope you had a fine read!