Understanding Hard Facilities Management (FM) Services

By Lynn Pearcey, MBA, Copywriter, AIA Contract Documents

April 10, 2023

Facility management should be a necessary part of your business strategy. It prolongs the life of your building, and if used correctly, it can be a competitive advantage. Employees housed in a clean, well-run facility tend to be more productive. Increased productivity can enhance your company’s financial performance. The list of potential benefits from a complete facility management program is seemingly endless.

Your facility needs proper care, which opens the door to a pivotal question: is your building hard or soft? Before embarking on your facility management journey, you must define your building. Correctly identifying your facility as hard or soft is necessary. Understanding the difference between the two and determining where your building resides on the spectrum is essential to crafting this piece of your business strategy.

Here, we’ll examine the core elements of Hard facility management (Hard FM) services and their role in protecting your building.

What is Hard FM?

Hard FM is a suite of services that focuses on the physical components of your building. The services comprising Hard FM are needed because their absence jeopardizes the infrastructure of your location. Another point to remember is that the law requires Hard FM services for safety, hygiene, and health reasons.

Inside Hard FM

The well-being of your staff and visitors relies on Hard FM services as they are considered must-haves and include the following.


Proper lighting is an essential part of any building. Hard FM ensures the light bulbs and the fixtures that house them are working correctly. Servicing your lights is crucial because it saves on the amount of energy you use and lowers monthly bills. When it comes to your employees, a properly working light system helps reduce eye strain and stress and increases productivity. With visitors, your lighting system and its condition speak volumes about your facility and can be used to set the tone for an engaging interaction.


Plumbing in your facility is necessary because it brings freshwater in and removes wastewater. Freshwater includes:

  • Drinking water.
  • Water for dishes and clothes washing.
  • Mopping.

Regarding wastewater, think about toilets and draining out once cleaning is complete. Other areas to consider when it comes to plumbing are preventative and protective measures. These include watching for harmful molds and sewage challenges that can, if unchecked, harm your staff.


In the world of Hard FM, many consider the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to be the heart of a facility. HVACs are vital because they control the air quality and the temperature. No matter what’s going on outside, intense heat or frigid cold, a sound HVAC system adjusts what’s happening inside. These adjustments directly impact your staff’s productivity, morale, and mood. Other ways your HVAC system affects your facility include:

  • Promoting building and equipment durability.
  • Maintaining and moderating pressurization.
  • Diluting hazardous debris, including potentially harmful toxic materials.

Fire Systems 

A fire is the worst situation yours or any facility can ever face. You want to avoid seeing a fire at your facility, and having a sound fire system in place can reduce the risks and losses if one ever occurs. Fire systems are a necessary part of your Hard FM arsenal and protect you in the following ways.

  • Fire and smoke detection: Fire systems use smoke and heat sensors to detect fires.
  • Alert occupants: Once heat or smoke is detected, your fire alarm system alerts occupants with alarms and other notifications.
  • Manage Risks: Systems react to and manage potential risks through preventive measures. These include re-routing occupants from dangerous areas and other functions that could increase safety risks.
  • Alert authorities: Lastly, your fire system alerts authorities regarding your situation. Authorities contacted include fire and police departments.


Your building is an asset that can be a competitive advantage. Managing it can also be a cornerstone of your success, driving employee and customer satisfaction. The first step in the managing process is understanding where you stand on the FM spectrum: Hard or Soft. Both are important; knowing the difference between the two disciplines and managing your facility correctly should be essential to your ongoing business strategy.

AIA Contract Documents new facilities maintenance documents are designed to address the business conditions and legal environment of facilities maintenance. The documents are intended to be used when a client hires a contractor to perform any building repair, maintenance, or improvement, and are further described below. Learn more here: AIA Contract Documents New Facility Maintenance Agreements

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.