- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 22 Oct 2019
Whole life solution
In construction, a whole-life solution is an activity or installation which, once it has been undertaken, does not need to be repeated for the life of the building. It usually applies to certain materials and components that are of such high durability that they can be installed and left in place with the confidence that they will not need replacing.
A typical example is offered by the brick walls of a building: these have been known to last not just for the life of a building but for centuries beyond the initial construction. Although they may need repointing (i.e. replacing the mortar joints) at certain intervals, the bricks making up the wall will endure and therefore brick walls constitute a whole-life solution if not tampered with.
Other components that can be considered whole-life solutions include:
- Concrete foundations;
- Concrete floors;
- Chimney stacks;
- Internal components such as door frames and staircases, and some floor and wall tiles (stone and ceramic).
Whole-life solutions such as those listed above tend to offer excellent value for money as there needs to be no reinstatement or recurring costs. But they can also have good sustainability credentials as being whole-life options they do not necessitate replacement by new materials, nor the labour required to do so nor the requirement for new site deliveries (energy consumption, exhaust emissions, traffic congestion etc). This means a building that is made up of such components may have a lower carbon footprint.
Components that are not generally considered to be whole-life solutions include:
- Mortar joints;
- Windows and glazing;
- Roof coverings (slates, asphalt, single-ply membranes etc);
- Electrical wiring.
A client may be advised impartially by a commercial enterprise such as a firm of quantity surveyors on whole-life options for construction components and services. This can help the client achieve best value solutions (as well as reductions in carbon emissions) that take in not only components but also overall energy requirements and future running costs.
Clients may achieve value for money, optimise costs and improve processes by adopting an appropriate whole-life cost model for a project. Whole-life cost models generate the total cost implications of a project by combining the capital costs of construction with maintenance, operational, occupational and sometimes disposal costs.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Cost consultant.
- Design life.
- Discount rate.
- Energy targets.
- Hard costs v soft costs.
- Key performance indicators.
- Life cycle.
- Life cycle assessment.
- Life Cycle Costing BG67 2016.
- Material procurement.
- Net Present Value.
- New Rules of Measurement.
- Off site, on track.
- Sustainability quantity surveyor.
- Utilising life cycle costing and life cycle assessment.
- Value management.
- Whole-life value.
Featured articles and news
Delivering an infrastructure revolution.
The admissibility of evidence.
How many can you name? 37 anyone?
CIOB respond to the points-based system.
When is the weather considered 'exceptionally adverse'?
ECA backs call for a rolling programme of rail electrification.
What does 'curtilage' mean and why does it matter?
Our duty to prevent harm and protect each other.
A quality perspective.
If buildings were people, they would be just starting to walk on two legs.
Air filtration and clean air standards.