Restroom Renovations and Life-Cycle Costs

  November 9, 2011

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, restroom renovations and life-cycle costs.

One common mistake managers make when planning a restroom renovation is to focus only on first cost. The result is a restroom design that does not consider long-term operating and maintenance costs. With these costs exceeding first costs over the life of the restroom, the net effect is a negative cash flow.

Successful restroom renovations balance first costs with operating and maintenance costs. One of the best ways of achieving this balance is to use life-cycle costing, which examines these costs for all major components over the service life of the restroom. In most cases, it demonstrates that the additional first costs associated with low-maintenance and low-water-use components will be recovered within one to two years.

Another common planning mistake is to skimp on the budget. Too often, managers set budgets before they fully understand restroom needs. So if a subsequent assessment determines the restroom needs more fixtures, for example, the budget does not contain enough funding. This shortcoming forces managers to cut back on fixtures that could reduce the restroom’s long-term operating costs.

One goal of planning is to avoid difficulties and delays during the renovation. Some managers have run into difficulties with local code officials who either are unfamiliar with or simply do not believe in some new restroom products. The result can be delays in getting approvals or additional costs due to modifications required before a completed project can be accepted.

Managers need to work with local code officials early in the planning process. Many state codes allow the use of the new restroom technologies, but some local jurisdictions do not, and require a variance. Contact local officials to identify the requirements for obtaining variances, if necessary. Product manufacturers can provide assistance, but because the process can take time, managers need to start as early as possible.


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