There are 40 state buildings in Helena that cover about 1.4 million square feet.
In 2014, the General Services Division of the State of Montana began using a process known as Facilities Condition Assessment, a program that had been done in years past to help keep watch over building maintenance needs, but had fallen off somewhere along the way.
Within 17 months, each of the 40 buildings in the Capitol Complex had been assessed. Now they're working on the second cycle of inspections.
"What we will do now is try to get to every single building once every 36 months,” explains General Services Division Administrator Steve Baiamonte. "The industry standard is that you want to get into every building once every three to five years."
On this day, the group of state employees that specialize in everything from roofing, to plumbing, to heating and cooling and architecture, are setting their sights on the Montana Historical Society.
"It gets a lot of public use and so it certainly sees some challenges,” says Baiamonte. "Most of our buildings are office buildings. When you take a look at a building like the historical society, you can't put a value on what's housed in there and how important it is to the state of Montana because of the functions that take place in that building."
They start on the roof and work their way down, winding through every room and peaking into every corner. The findings are prioritized at the end of the tour: which issues are immediate, such as those that involve safety, and which can be placed into a deferred plan to be addressed later.
"What we know now as a result of doing our facility condition assessments on that first round is we're able to categorize and we know for a fact that half of our buildings fall under the range that we consider poor and we have a range of about 45 to 60 million dollars in deferred maintenance. So instead of just going to the legislature and saying, we think we have a problem -- we can actually pinpoint it, explains Baiamonte. "It helps us to prioritize what our biggest needs are and for everybody to make informed decisions about where we're going to spend money in the future."
In their post-inspection meeting, the group identified 11 new deficiencies at the historical society that will be added to the building report and 5 work orders that will need immediate resolution.
One or two more building assessments may be completed before the year is over, depending on weather.
The assessments are suspended during the winter months when weather conditions make it dangerous to inspect roofs.