FM Frequency: Facility Assessments and Project/Budget Planning

By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the August 2005 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

My wife and I acquired our first “residential facility” (known to normal people simply as a home) in 1992. The excitement of indoor and outdoor improvement projects consumed the majority of our weekends and free time. I remember spending entire Saturdays working in the yard or on a plumbing project and actually finding it enjoyable! Several years and two children later, our weekend priorities have shifted to soccer games, birthday parties, and visits with grandparents and cousins.

Have you ever heard the expression about the cobbler’s kids running around without shoes? As I mowed my weed field yesterday and admired my neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn, I was thinking about the growing project list associated with the only residential facility in my portfolio.

I consider myself our home’s facility manager and probably deserve to be terminated. As many of you can relate, this is an unpaid position and includes a wide variety of 24/7 demands. In contrast to responsibilities at our day job, facilities projects at home sometimes lack the same compelling sense of urgency.

It has been almost a year and a half since we moved into our current residence, and I’m a little disappointed with the number of facilities projects that remain undone. We’ve completed several projects but perhaps sharing this task list will inspire additional progress.


  • A rotten sill on an external storage room door needs to be replaced. The drainage problem that caused this was corrected, so this is mainly a cosmetic repair.
  • I think one of the attic ventilation louvers is loose and needs to be secured. This would be a simple job if it weren’t 20′ above sloped ground and if I didn’t hate ladders!
  • A hand rail on the deck is a little loose. Some simple bracing between the support joists should tighten things up.
  • The kids’ rooms need to be painted. I would rather walk barefoot on hot coals than paint!
  • A minor leak in a bathroom shower required some drywall and molding removal. The shower was regrouted and the leak is gone but the trim needs to be replaced.


  • I need to disconnect and remove the humidifiers attached to the air handlers. These would have been a good idea if we lived north of Virginia, but in the Carolinas, a humidifier is like your appendix; you really don’t need it, but it can certainly create one heck of a mess.
  • The ductwork in the attic is improperly balanced. The system works and passed the home inspection, so it’s probably code compliant. I can manually balance the air distribution at the diffusers but, sheesh, a mechanical engineer ought to be picky about his air conditioning. I guess other duct improvements can wait until the systems live out their useful life.
  • I’m not sure about the thermostat settings on the attic ventilators. Of course, they are installed where even a guy who loves ladders would have a hard time reaching them. I much prefer natural draft ridge vents along the top of the roof. I guess this can be changed in a few years when it’s time to replace the asphalt shingles.


  • There are a few lights that still need their conventional bulbs replaced with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). I read that CFLs shouldn’t be installed in fixtures with dimmers, so I’m changing those from 75 to 45 watt bulbs to conserve energy.
  • I still need to figure out what is connected to that mysterious switch in the laundry room!


  • For some reason, there is no hose bib at the front of the house near the driveway. While this would qualify as a great excuse to not wash the car, my wife insists on watering flowers. I need to run a cold water line through the crawl space and install a freeze resistant hose bib; then I’ll consider washing the car.
  • The kitchen and laundry room sink faucetsneed to be replaced.


  • A few of the outdoor, motion activated flood lights don’t work consistently and need to be replaced. I’m not sure why this happens, but I’m glad my dog’s bark resembles a breed three times his size.


  • As I mentioned earlier, the yard is in less than ideal condition. The prior owner wasn’t a yard person, so there is much to be done. Our neighbors probably wish this was making more rapid progress, but I intentionally decided to postpone an aggressive landscaping effort until year two because of other priorities. We’ve already done a lot of trimming, and the turf will get more serious attention this fall.
  • After mowing the weeds (I mean my lawn) yesterday with my old mower and a heat index well above 100 degrees, I’m going to suggest we consider outsourcing the yard chores. I’ve been cutting grass since I was 12 years old, and in about four more years my boys—little do they know—will begin their landscaping entrepreneur training and take over for their old man.

I’ll need to compare these notes with the priorities of our family’s official budget adviser (my wife handles that unpaid position). We’ll consider these projects in the context of our budget and calendar to determine when and how we should complete them. Fortunately, the projects above are continuing maintenance items and don’t include urgent safety concerns.

If you’re on a January through December budget year at work and/or at home, it’s probably a good time to review your facilities’ project lists and priorities. This includes contemplating what can be accomplished with in-house resources and what outside services will be required. Good luck with your planning and budget preparations—2006 is approaching and will be here before we know it.

Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and property management services provider in the Southeast.