Integrating building and mechanical and electrical surveys in the built environment

Phillipe Gomez
Building services are the mechanical and electrical installations within a building that enable them to function, essentially bringing the building to life. The complexity of mechanical and electrical services varies greatly between building types, from simple domestic buildings to complex hospitals and data centres.

Building owners and managers are required to provide a safe environment in which we live and work. They are required to follow regulations for the maintenance and safety of building services such as fire alarms, emergency lighting, lifts, electrical fixed wiring and hot water generation. Regular maintenance is essential to provide continued reliability and safe operation of assets and essentially the functionality of the building. Failure to maintain building services can lead to increased building running costs and energy consumption, asset failure, reduced plant life and reduced comfort conditions for the occupants and may also lead to loss of building functionality. Failure to maintain and monitor building services can also result in contravention of health and safety and legislative compliance.

As buildings become more complex, building owners and managers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of integrated fabric and mechanical and electrical building assessments. These assessements provide useful information for the maintenance strategy, current state of repair, breaches in health and safety, life cycle and associated costs for replacement.

What is the difference between building surveying and building services surveying?

Building surveying is fundamentally different to building services surveying and involves undertaking a condition assessment of the building fabric such as the internal walls, floors and ceilings, doors and windows, external facades and roofs etc. Whereas a mechanical and electrical survey involves assessing the building’s services such as its source of heating and heat distribution system, hot water generation and water distribution system, electrical switchgear and distribution wiring, lighting system and fire alarm system etc.

Building surveyors and building services surveyors work collaboratively to provide a number of useful benefits for consultants and clients alike. For example, a large survey programme could be managed more efficiently if controlled from a central location, and by having a central point of contact, information about all aspects of a building can be made available to the client. Further benefits include sharing of knowledge and information, maintaining quality and improved strategic efficiency. An integrated, multi-disciplinary service offering could provide other business benefits such as maintaining revenue, reducing costs and having a more competitive edge over rival consultants.

A good example of a recent project which required close collaboration between building surveyors and building services surveyors involved a surveying programme of over 5,000 schools across the UK. A key requirement of the programme was to carry out the building surveys and mechanical and electrical surveys at the same time to minimise disruption to the school and appointments between both surveyors, head teachers and facilities managers were also able to be streamlined into one meeting. The programme was successfully controlled from Faithful+Gould’s Cardiff office and the project was completed on time and within budget.

Faithful+Gould has extensive experience within the fields of building and building services surveying and understand the importance of fabric and building services within the built environment. An integrated team of in-house building surveyors and building service engineers are available to provide a complete solution to meet our client’s needs by offering a bespoke, integrated service offering.

In the course of our work we use industry leading CIBSE technical reference material including CIBSE Guide M which provides an excellent source for engineers to benchmark against the condition, maintenance strategy, expected life cycle of plant and equipment and current statutory requirements within buildings.

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