Property maintenance is essential in keeping a property running smoothly and safely. From regular cleaning to emergency repairs, proper care of a property helps it last longer and perform better. But not all types of maintenance are the same – some are proactive while others are reactive.

Proactive or preventative property maintenance is done before problems arise to avoid costly repairs or downtime, while reactive maintenance is carried out after issues have occurred and when they require immediate attention.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between preventative and reactive property maintenance as well as their respective benefits and drawbacks so that you can better understand the maintenance needs of your property.

Preventative Maintenance


Preventative maintenance helps avoid costly repairs or downtime by detecting and addressing issues before they arise. This means doing regular inspections to see what condition various parts of your property are in so that you can keep track of the health of your building and find problems before they get worse.

However, regular inspections aren’t always going to find problems, and often you’ll spend time inspecting your property (or money to have someone else do it for you) just to find out that everything is fine. In fact, that’s the best outcome of an inspection.

Understanding how often and how thoroughly your property should be inspected is also important. If it’s not looked at often enough, you might not catch issues before they become serious problems, but if you’re too paranoid about looking for problems, you could waste a lot of money on unnecessary inspections.

If you can strike the balance in your property management, however, paying for or conducting the appropriate number and frequency of inspections for your building and assets, the peace of mind that preventative maintenance inspections grant is well worth the cost.


But preventative maintenance isn’t just about inspections, it’s also about repairs and replacements of assets before they break. This means replacing an old but still functioning asset, like your water heater, for example, before it breaks down.

The advantage of these preventative replacements and repairs is that you avoid having the asset break down on you at an unpredictable time and potentially causing damage in the process (e.g. flooding), but the drawback is that you end up sacrificing the last portion of the asset’s lifespan in the process; those last few days or weeks it could have continued to function before failing.

Depending on the asset and the consequences of it failing unexpectedly, being able to avoid a crisis or unexpected failure (e.g. furnace failing mid-winter) is well worth the cost of those last few days or weeks of functionality.

Asset Lifespans

Sometimes, minor damage or unfavourable conditions can degrade an asset without causing it to fail entirely. This kind of gradual decay doesn’t grab your attention like a complete failure does, so it can be easy not to notice.

However, these kinds of gradual damage degrade components and shorten the lifespan of your assets and make an unexpected failure more likely. This is another reason why regular inspections are important: remedying ongoing issues so they don’t decrease your assets’ life spans.

Reactive Maintenance

Compared to preventative maintenance, reactive property maintenance is exactly what it sounds like: maintenance done to react to a problem or crisis. For example, regularly replacing your furnace’s air filters is preventative maintenance, whereas repairing or replacing your furnace after it fails is reactive maintenance.

The advantage of this kind of maintenance is that you never have to wonder whether the time and money you’re putting into it is accomplishing anything. Rather than just preventing unpredictable, potential problems, you’re actively solving real ones.

The obvious downside to relying on reactive maintenance, of course, is that the maintenance failure that you’re reacting to in the first place still happened. Sometimes, this just means it needs to be fixed at an unexpected time, like in the case of a furnace breaking down during seasonable weather. There’s no crisis, just a possibly inconveniently timed repair that needs to happen.

In other circumstances, however, an unexpected maintenance failure can mean a huge amount of additional damage, like when water pipes burst and flood an entire floor.

Reactive & Proactive Property Maintenance: Pros & Cons

To summarize, here are the main advantages and disadvantages of each type of maintenance.

Preventative MaintenanceReactive Maintenance
ProsPrevent failures & associated damage
Protect asset lifespans
Predictable timelines
Spend time and money with certainty
ConsOccasionally cost for little/no direct returnMaintenance failure does occur
Unpredictable need


In conclusion, both preventative maintenance and reactive maintenance are important for any property manager to consider.

Preventative maintenance is necessary in order to reduce the chances of unexpected problems occurring while also avoiding unnecessary costs associated with repairs or replacements that could have been avoided through regular inspection and preventive replacement.

Reactive maintenance is important as well, as you need to be able to react quickly when an emergency arises and take appropriate action before further damage occurs.

Ultimately, most problems should be prevented to avoid further damage or risk to the occupants. Preventative maintenance also lets you decide when you’re going to deal with a problem rather than needing to be on the problem’s schedule.

Reactive maintenance, by contrast, is a last necessity. There are some cases in which the risk of letting an asset run to failure is minimal, so it’s safe and reasonable to simply repair it when it breaks instead of spending time and money to prevent it, but in general, it’s better to be ahead of a problem than behind it.

Some amount of reactive maintenance is inevitable. No maintenance management plan or schedule is ever perfect, and factors outside of your control will, at some point, cause a maintenance failure you didn’t see coming. When it does, you need to be ready and prepared to react quickly.

Here at Bilt, we’re proud to offer high-quality, reliable property maintenance services that can handle both your preventative and reactive maintenance for you.

Our experienced maintenance personnel are on call whenever you need them to react to a crisis, and our advanced maintenance management software allows us to keep track of your building’s maintenance needs for you, so you don’t have to worry about planning preventative maintenance either.

To learn more about our property maintenance services, contact us today, or read about our maintenance service plans in our info package.