11. Building management: Designing buildings for access and usability
Universal design features and installations are often compromised because information on their use and maintenance is not readily available.
As-built design information
As-built design information relevant to the use of the built environment should be collated and incorporated into the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manual.
It is essential that those responsible for the built environment have the right information available to plan and undertake maintenance, refurbishment and alteration works.
- Ensure information relevant to the design, construction and maintenance of features that affect the use of the built environment are collated and incorporated into the O&M Manual.
- Ensure details of the content of Periodic Inspections are included in the O&M Manual to guide actions of the Building Manager.
Planned maintenance schedule
A Planned Maintenance Schedule should be prepared to cover requirements relevant to the use of the built environment.
If features and installations that affect the use of the built environment are not regularly maintained, their function may be affected which could cause inconvenience or even a hazard to building users.
To maintain elements correctly, the O&M Manual needs to contain relevant maintenance information and guidance as to when planned inspections and routine maintenance should be carried out.
- Prepare a Planned Maintenance Schedule for incorporation into the O&M Manual to detail necessary inspections and maintenance of features and installations relevant to the use of the built environment.
- Seek advice if necessary to ensure the Planned Maintenance Schedule contains all the relevant requirements to ensure the building will remain accessible, usable and understandable.
Layout changes, refurbishment and alterations
Written guidance should be provided within the O&M Manual to structure the occupier's approach to proposed changes within the built environment.
When layout changes, refurbishment and alterations are undertaken, building users are affected, some particularly so when familiar environments and landmarks are involved.
Those responsible for the changes may not be aware of the long term impact these may have, and contractors may not appreciate how temporary and protections works might affect building users.
Guidance within the O&M Manual can inform the approach to layout changes, refurbishment and alterations to ensure building users continue to benefit and are not unduly affected by proposed works.
Include guidance within the O&M Manual to ensure that:
- The future usability of the building is considered prior to changes being instructed.
- During construction or alteration works, the accessibility and usability of the building is maintained.
- Changes made to the layout and use of the building is incremental and progressive to allow building users to adapt and become familiar with new provisions.
- Feedback is obtained from building users.
- Consult with building users and seek advice on accessibility, usability and understandability if necessary.
- The O&M Manual is updated to reflect changes made.
Universal design statement
A universal design statement should be prepared and included within the O&M Manual.
Universal design is an approach to design where the needs of all those who will use the built environment are considered and met to the greatest extent possible. However, due to a range of varying limitations, it is not possible to design an environment that is perfect for everybody or that follows every recommendation in this guide.
Providing information on why the relevant design decisions were taken will allow all parties to understand the reasoning behind the approach. It will also enable those responsible for maintaining, refurbishing and altering the built environment to do so with the best information available.
An updated universal design statement can also be submitted with consent applications to Council to inform regulators of the reasons why decisions were taken.
- Prepare a universal design statement for inclusion into the O&M Manual to record the approach taken to the design of the built environment
Information is required from periodic inspections to ensure the continued effectiveness of the built environment.
Without periodic inspections, situations may arise which affect building users but which may not be apparent to occupiers or the industry as a whole.
Guidance for the Building Manager on inspections of the built environment relevant to its use should be included in the O&M Manual.
The Building Manager should ensure:
- Periodic inspections of the usability aspects of the built environment are carried out and written records kept.
- Unauthorised or unintentional changes that will affect the use of the building do not occur (eg. reduction in the number of accessible car parking spaces, obstructions in circulation routes, and over-tensioned door closers.
- Usability of the building is not adversely compromised by increases in security measures.
- Boxes or other items are not stored in accessible toilets compromising their use.
- Means of Escape are not compromised by unauthorised changes to the building layout or storage of materials.
- Permanent accessible signage remains effective and temporary signs removed.
- Hearing assistance systems are working and maintained.
- Alarm systems continue to be suitable for people with impaired hearing.
- Slip resistance of floors is not compromised by poor maintenance or water ingress past entrance mats.
- Lighting installations are maintained and glare issues avoided.
- Decoration or refitting works do not compromise the readability of the building.
- Ensure the O&M Manual contains guidance for the Building Manager on inspections of the built environment relevant to its use.
Information is required from user feedback to ensure the continued effectiveness of the built environment.
Without user feedback, situations may arise which affect building users but which may not be apparent to occupiers or the industry as a whole.
An example procedure for obtaining feedback from users of the building and surrounding spaces should be prepared and included within the O&M Manual.
If no feedback is received from users, accessibility, usability and safety of the built environment may be compromised.
Feedback from users is needed to provide information to the Building Manager to help ensure that the building and surrounding spaces remain accessible, understandable, usable and safe.
- Feedback from users is also helpful to:
- Provide feedback to the design professionals involved to inform their subsequent work.
- Provide feedback to manufacturers on the accessibility and usability of their products.
- Inform the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of changes that might be considered for upcoming reviews of the Building Code and Acceptable Solutions.
- Include an example procedure for obtaining feedback from users of the building and surrounding spaces in the O&M Manual.
All guidance related to Buildings for everyone: Designing for access and usability