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Larger MDH developments can present significant ongoing maintenance challenges so it is important to include facilities management and future maintenance from the beginning of the design process.

All buildings require regular maintenance to ensure they continue to perform effectively, meet compliance requirements, are safe and retain their aesthetic appeal. Medium-density housing is no exception to this rule, but larger MDH developments can present a significant ongoing maintenance challenge. The design of such MDH developments should therefore minimise these long-term maintenance activities and costs as much as possible.

Incorporate facilities management and future maintenance from the beginning of the design process. Specify materials that are durable enough to withstand long-term use and the environmental conditions they are likely to encounter. This is especially important in shared spaces and public access areas where more robust materials and design approaches may be necessary.

To allow the exterior of taller MDH buildings to be inspected and cleaned and regular maintenance be carried out, some form of maintenance access should be designed into the building. Provided the design allows for safe anchorage, there are several options to enable temporary or intermittent maintenance access, including:

  • abseiling
  • scaffolding
  • suspended work platforms
  • mobile platforms
  • cherry pickers.

For dwellings that require more frequent exterior maintenance, the design should provide a more permanent access option, such as:

  • abseiling anchor points
  • suspended mobile building maintenance units
  • accessible ledges or inter-storey floor projections with permanent safety restraints, possibly accessed via opening windows
  • decks
  • walkways constructed as part of or over a roof cladding – sufficient space needs to be left between the walkway and the roof to allow for roof cladding maintenance.

Appropriate design can also significantly reduce the cost of carrying out interior maintenance. Factors that influence the ease of such maintenance include:

  • height of the ceilings – is special equipment needed to reach, for example, a light fixture?
  • ceiling construction – in larger multi-dwellings and apartment buildings, a significant amount of plant and services, which require regular maintenance, may be located above the ceiling
  • fixed partitions and furniture.

For further detail on ongoing maintenance once the building has been constructed, see MDH Maintenance.