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Design for Maintainability (DfM)

What is Design for Maintainability (DfM)

Design for Maintainability (DfM) is the practice of integrating operations & maintenance considerations into project planning and design to achieve effectiveness, safety, and economy of maintenance tasks during the lifespan of a facility. The DfM Roadmap was introduced in 2015.

Key Challenges faced by FM Industry

There have been observations that there are generally lesser emphasis or no systematic approach in incorporating maintainability concepts in projects at upstream planning and design. Specifically, the following industry gaps and challenges, which are influenceable by design, were identified:

  1. Design of buildings - poor access for maintenance, inappropriate choice of building materials, or lack of detailing considerations for durability and maintenance;

  2. Industry mindset / practice - designers' lack of understanding on downstream maintenance strategies, developers' focus on market appeal, and limited upfront capital.

Benefits of DfM

Building Owners

  1. Cost savings - A significant portion of a building' total costs is attributed to the operation and maintenance needs over the buildings' lifespan. Through DfM, the design of a building is optimised for efficient operations and maintenance (O&M), resulting in significant savings through more cost-effective, labour efficient, and smarter (tech-enabled) maintenance regimes, in the long run.

  2. Holistic sustainability - Systematically considering maintainability outcomes during design will minimise lifecycle costs (economic aspect) and manpower demand (social aspect) arising from inefficient designs. This is in addition to the environment aspect (GreenMark). Hence, DfM helps to address the triple bottom line of sustainability more effectively.

Building Owners & Maintenance Workers

  1. Maintainable designs facilitate safe maintenance - Many maintenance activities require working at height, in confined spaces, and manual handing, etc. Minimising the need and frequency of maintenance through DfM reduces the risks to maintenance workers and potential liabilities to building owners. DfM and Design for Safety (DfS) go hand in hand.

Developer and Designers

  1. Competitive advantage at home and abroad - DfM brings an enhanced value proposition and advantage for designers, whilst developers and building owners would be confident of a building which retains its value over time.

Taking DfM Forward Through FM Sector Transformation

BCA has brought together the industry, unions and other public agencies in tripartite Facility Management Implementation Committee (FMIC) to develop, oversee, and review the implementation of the transformation plans for the Facility Management (FM) sector.

DfM is identified as a key pillar to support the FMIC's endeavours. The FMIC set up a DfM Taskforce to oversee the development of DfM guides and the new voluntary Maintainable Design Appraisal System (MiDAS)

Enhanced DfM Guides

BCA, in collaboration with industry stakeholders and government agencies, have reviewed the previous DfM Checklist (released in 2016) and developed a revamped set of DfM Guides, with added emphasis on Smart FM strategies. The new guides are structured according to different building types, to facilitate the ease of use and adoption by industry practioners.

Download a copy of the DfM Guides here:

Façade Access Design Guide (FADG)

With super high-rise buildings and complex façade designs becoming more common, it is increasingly important that designers should understand their design impact on downstream maintenance. This would allow designers to adequately consider access to building envelopes upstream, for safe and efficient inspection, cleaning, and repair and replacement throughout a building's lifespan.

The Façade Access Design Guide (FADG) highlights the importance of façade access and aims to help designers understand access considerations better through a set of recommended standards. It also provides a benchmark for access-related future improvement works in existing buildings. The industry is strongly encouraged to adopt the recommended standards in the FADG.

Download a copy of the FADG here:

Maintainable Design Appraisal System (MiDAS)

The MiDAS is a design appraisal tool that helps developers and designers assess a building design's degree of maintainability based on labour efficiency and cost-effectiveness of downstream maintenance regime. Please click here for more information on MiDAS.