Last edited 05 Mar 2021

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:

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:

[edit] Whole-life options and cost models

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.

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