Temporary Building Problems – A Permanent Reminder of a Temporary Feeling?

The great musical sage Jimmy Buffet wrote a song called “Permanent Reminder of a Temporary Feeling”, an expression many of us like to use from time to time. Although the song tells a different story than something facilities and maintenance related, temporary buildings have become just that – a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling.

In many cases, an innovative short term floor space solution has become a long term maintenance headache.

Last week I got a call from a longtime school client who has a problem with one of his temporary buildings, or as many of us in the business call them, “T-buildings”. Not surprisingly, there are some mold and moisture issues going on with this building. After all, we’re in the perfect setting for mold and moisture problems, and T-buildings commonly experience poor mold, moisture, and indoor air quality problems. I think people now want to call them T-buildings because it sounds better – some maintenance people I know consider the phrase “temporary buildings” a form of profanity.
Temporary buildings make up approximately 5% of this school system’s floor space, but my client attributes 40% of his maintenance problems to temporary buildings. Think about that – with building ages ranging from pretty new to very old, temporary buildings give this poor guy more problems per square foot than any other facility type.
My first experience with T-buildings was sometime in 1988, when we were surveying schools for asbestos. We’d drive up, look at the school and see different construction eras. As we walked around, we’d notice a compound of buildings off to the side or in the rear – the T-building area. At the time, many of these buildings were pretty new, and although many had asbestos, they were rather pleasant. And it seemed like a great idea – traditional design and construction takes a while, and increasing space demand on school systems dictated additional floor space – right now.
Then something interesting happened. What was intended as a temporary fix turned into permanent facility additions. And many seemed surprised when these buildings started to fall apart.
this is way more common than people think

this is way more common than people think

This begs the question:
How long did we really expect these buildings to last?
There seems to be no consensus on this. Whatever the answer is in terms of years, many of these buildings are way past that.
Every maintenance and facility person I know despises having to maintain (when they have the resources) temporary buildings. They’re more difficult to work on per square foot, and take away from care and maintenance of actual permanent facilities.
But having these buildings around, even the ones that are falling apart, have taken on the permanence of having a tattoo. If you’ve been part of a project to remove t-buildings from a site, you know what I mean.
For years now, we’ve seen problems with these buildings – and in many cases, the real fix costs more than the building’s worth, or sometimes more than it would cost to bring in a new temporary building.
In this case, the building enclosure is falling apart, as shown above and in the photos below. What’s the cost to fix remediate the mold, fix the enclosure, and then operate the building in such a way that we minimize mold and moisture problems? My guess is that it’d be more cost effective to get a crane and a flatbed trailer and haul this building away and auction it off – let someone make a camp out of it. It should come down to a logical business decision. A phased approach to the mold and moisture problem fixes will cost big money.
that vinyl wall covering isn't helping, either

that vinyl wall covering isn’t helping, either

my money says this isn't the only spot

my money says this isn’t the only spot

This project led me to write this, and also ask the question – how are you dealing with your temporary building problems? If you need help with your temporary buildings, email me.
Stay T-riffic, my friends.