The White House

White House Maintenance: An Inside Look

  May 1, 2018

By Dan Hounsell

Every institutional or commercial facility presents a unique set of challenges, whether the building is a K-12 school in the Northeast United States or a hospital in the Southwest United States. Even two buildings that are similar in geography, age and condition offer maintenance and engineering managers different challenges related to installed technology, staffing and the organization’s support for facilities management.

Then there is the most famous house in the country, perhaps the world. The White House, because of its history and what it means to the nation, occupies a unique space in the world of facilities, and it offers managers an array of issues and problems that exist in no other building.

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The White House does not take care of itself. One day, it might be a smart house cared for by robots but for now, the White House requires people to maintain the house and grounds. It takes a great deal to maintain the White House’s 55,000 square feet, according the Culture Cheat Sheet. The White House by the numbers:

  • The annual cost of maintenance is $750,000–1.6 million.
  • Painting the White House’s exterior requires 570 gallons of paint.
  • Paint alone would cost more than $20,000.
  • The building features 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases, and three elevators.
  • The White House’s current estimated value is $398,705,319.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) oversees maintenance in the White House. More specifically, the Public Building Service division of the GSA handles maintenance.

“It’s an enormous job. GSA is assigned to manage that job,” Brian Miller, former GSA inspector general, tells NBC News4 Washington. “GSA hires contractors and subcontractors for the work. Then the agency must watch over the contractors.”

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The Public Building Service division handles maintenance at other buildings in the Washington, D.C., area. In addition to maintenance work on the White House, Public Building Service manages building maintenance and repairs for about 9,000 federal government facilities, including at least 31 in the District of Columbia.

GSA has offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, Miller says, “because of the high volume of maintenance requests the agency receives.

The White House requires lots of TLC. “Even wallpaper and paints must be protected and handled with special care,” Miller says.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.


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