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Question DetailsAsked on 5/21/2012

My house has a problem (or 2 or 3) but I don't know where to start or who to call. How do I find out the most appropriate provider?

My 1250 sq. ft. house was built in 1948 and has had numerous owners. I've owned the house since 1998 but am not very knowledgeable about the inner workings of various systems. I now find myself in the position of needing some type of diagnosis and repair on what might be 1 problem, 2 problems, or 3 separate problems. (Plumbing, foundation, AC) How do I know what type of company to call?

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7 Answers


Look for a facilities management firm. They are often a part of architectural firms, or architectural firms offer facilities management or assessment.

The reason you want a facilities management firm is they deal with all aspects of buildings. So they can review your building, identify the source of your problems and recommend a course of action.

Going directly to a contractor or repair technitian is similar to the "if you have a hammer, all problems are a nail" situation. An HVAC tech will recommend fixing the HVAC to solve a problem, where the plumber will swear it is a plubming issue, not an HVAC, etc.

Building Inspectors generally give an overview of a building and recommend when you should bring an expert in to look more closely at a situation or system. They are less expensive than facilities assessors, but do not always have a strong background (the certification for a Building Inspector is a single test, done online-I am a certified building inspector, most of the test is general knowledge & common sense). A facility management firm will have multiple experts to check each area or to consult with to reach a conclusion, etc.

A facility management firm will also typically be aware of local codes and requirements, so they can suggest improvements or modifications that are in compliance with the locality. If you visit the American Institute of Architects web site, at the very bottom there is an option to Select or Find and Architect. Under the search options, you can put in your zip code and change the filter to Facility Management, etc. to find local firms in your area.

Good luck!


Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


I don't know of or have ever met an architect that manages repairs but I'm sure there must be at least one somewhere for Kenny to mention it.

A general contractor will have the various sub-contractors needed to properly address all of the problems. This is important, especially if there are multiple trades needed to complete the repairs. If walls or floors have to be broken out to get to pipes they'll have to be repaired after the pipes are fixed/replaced. A plumber won't do that.

Search for reputable contractors who have experience working in your neighborhood. This is important because the ones who have worked on similar homes in the area will be more familiar with the pitfalls and problems your home may have, including hidden obstacles unique to those houses based on likely having the same builder. There are areas of town I hate working in (but do) because I know some of the things the builders did that I have to work around or repair in addition to the cause for the call. On the flip side, it is also good because I know what I'm getting in to before I start so I can budget time for it.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


you have three basic problems take the most important first your foundation goes first you need a house to stand on then your plumbing cause you neecd to wash your dishes then your hvac to keep you comfortable while you are enjoying your house.
raymond gonzalez
koolray heating and air


Answered 8 years ago by Raymond Gonzalez


Architects and Facility Managers are not (often) the same people.

Larger architectural firms often have facility managers on staff.

Contractors should come in only once you know the scope of work you wish to have completed. Too often what gets fixed isn't what is the problem. The contractor's intent is to fix the problem, but when they do the work, and the problem isn't resolved, it creates problems in the relationship and of course added expenses to the owner.

As one example, there was a roof leak in a supply closet. The contractor replaced the roof (which was near the end of its life span). The leak continued.

The contractor had the plumber check the lines in the ceiling area. Plumber found wet pipes, but no leak / hole in the pipes. He re-ran the lines in different route. The leak continued in the same spot.

The owner, having paid for a roof and new plumbing work was quite upset. After a week of investigation, our facility assessment found a crack in the roof drain's pipe; the water would pool after the rain, then slowly leak through the roof deck, run along the beams until it pooled above the supply closet, almost 30 feet away. After enough water pooled, the leak would drip onto the ceiling tiles below. Replacing the broken section of the roof drain cost a few hundred dollars and solved the problem.

The contractor did his work well. But it took someone willing to take the time to investigate to figure out what work should be done.

Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


All the previous answers are good. The path I suggest is the most critical first,ie what can cost you the most if left untreated, Most experts say start at the highest point like a roof and work your way down. With interior problems like plumbing, they can jump to the head of the line if they involve leaking into the structure. As a past watercontrolling contractor and current gutter contractor, think most basement leaks start with some gutter problem. If money is not prime issue,, with the higher efficiency a/c units out there seer rating 16 an up a replacement unit can pay for itself in lots of the country.


Answered 8 years ago by jccasper


1) News to me too - I have never run into an architecture firm with a facilities manager either - unless he means a facilities engineering consultant, who is usually their HVAC expert, and advises on and designs repairs and modifications to building systems - maybe a terminology issue going on here. To me a "facilities manager" is like a commercial building property manager - manages leased or rented out properties for the owners, arranges for and deals with contractors, puts out bids for rehabs and remodels for new tenants, supervises resident maintenance people, sees the bills are paid, etc.

2) Anyway, to get back on track - I thing we are getting ahead of ourselves. Please give us some specific issues and we can advise you in a way that should actually match your situation. Using the Answer This Question button right under your question to reply back, tell us what is not working or is going wrong and we can help. Also let us know if you are up to locating and dealing with several contractors to handle specific issues, or you dealing with one contractor or maybe one inspector type (home inspector or engineer or architect) plus one contractor, realizing that may cost more if what you need is basically maintenance type work only rather than serious repairs.

3) Oh - and Hi JC - seemed like you sort of dropped out of sight here for a few months or at least off the leader board - missed your input on some pertinent questions in your line of work - welcome back.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Don't go nuts go with the most important problem I would start with the foundation cause you need a good foundation. Then you go with your pipes cause you need your water to live then you go with your comfort the the ac.


Koolray heating and air


Answered 6 years ago by Raymond Gonzalez

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