10 Tips for Maintaining Hotel Exteriors

ADDISON, TX—You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. The same goes for a hotel’s exteriors, too. An attractive and well-maintained building can be a welcoming sight to guests and a boon to the hotel’s bottom line.

Arnold & Associates is an independent consultant firm, and its mission is to serve clients. It has a reputation for executing projects quickly, completely and under budget.

“We do a lot of observation and nondestructive evaluation and analyze building materials,” said Michael Cogburn, SVP, Arnold & Associates, based here. “Let’s take, for example, roofing. We’ll do an inspection and observation, identify deficiencies and put together an approximate cost for repairs. The same goes for windows or waterproofing systems. We’ll analyze those components and make recommendations on how to proceed.”

Some of the problems that can occur for hotel exteriors are water intrusion at window systems and roof degradation. “It’s an ongoing issue for hotels; it stems from the original construction and the aging of products and materials over time,” said Cogburn. “It could also be due to a lack of maintenance.”

While maintaining a solid building exterior is a vital part of hotel maintenance, there are some challenges to getting the job done.

“Many of the building owners we work with allocate money in a positive and proactive way and others don’t. Instead, they run into a situation where the problem is encountered and the owner may not have the money to resolve it,” said Cogburn. “They may get loans or do a little of the work and pull it out of operating expenses. Funding is always a concern. Large corporations have capital improvement funds; they look ahead at what needs to be done, and it’s appreciated. They set aside funds for that activity.”

Cogburn advised hoteliers to be proactive when it comes to maintaining the property’s exterior for years to come.

“Set aside funds and do an inspection and evaluation every seven years—or even earlier, in some cases; it’s a good timetable,” he said. “Think in terms of what you normally already do, such as a guestroom renovation or pulling out carpet. It’s the same for the exterior. It’s better to have a good-looking building—one that looks taken care of; as you go inside, you expect to see something well done on the inside as well. How many properties are spending all of their money on the inside and not on the outside?”

Cogburn is also seeing interior projects being done before the water intrusion is resolved on the outside of the building. “I’ve seen some start a guestroom remodel with the finishes and carpet inside, and then realize they’ve got microbial growth in the exterior wall from leaks. We have to abate it and slow down the process of the remodel,” he said.

In business since 1990, Arnold & Associates counts major hotel companiess among its clients, including Loews Hotels & Co, Xenia Hotels & Resorts,Host Hotels & Resorts and Blackstone.

“You’re seeing a lot of changes in the industry. There’s consolidation. We’ve seen all the changes, and yet, we still remain with these companies,” he said. “We have lots of repeat clients.”

Here, Cogburn has outlined the 10 common factors related to exterior building construction projects:

  1. As buildings age, maintenance to exterior walls, window systems, and roofs becomes extremely important. Leaks can occur for a number of reasons, age being one of the most obvious.
  2. Materials age on the exterior of buildings and deteriorate in cycles.
  3. Budgeting and funding of capital improvement projects is difficult without qualified assistance.
  4. Determination of exterior building costs are uncertain to untrained and unqualified eyes.
  5. Moisture intrusion issues and deficiencies attribute to significant loss of revenue and guest-service point scores. Interiors are remodeled before leaks are repaired on the exterior of the building.
  6. Exterior building image or appearance is not considered as important as interior lobby or guestroom appearances. Funding is more difficult to obtain and allocate.
  7. Engineering personnel changes may cause transitional issues with exterior building maintenance: for example, documentation of leaks that have re-occurred multiple times without correction of the primary leak source.
  8. Building document retention and record keeping is generally lacking in most hotels.
  9. Exterior building construction projects, depending on their complexity, don’t necessarily displace guests, place guestrooms out of service, or significantly reduce revenue to the hotel.
  10. Successful exterior building construction projects take extensive planning, scheduling and communication between all parties, including the design professional/building envelope consultant, owner, hotel operator/GM and contractors.