What is an O&M manual?

Operation and maintenance manuals [O&Ms] provide all the information required by end users for the operation, maintenance, decommissioning and demolition of a building.

O&Ms delivered collectively as part of the Building Manual, are a contractual requirement on HSE notifiable construction projects.

The format and content are defined in the Employers Information Requirements [EIRs] of the contact preliminaries documents; typically, under clause A37. The principle contractor has the responsibility to provide the Building Manual as part of a construction project, with additional information from subcontractors, designers and suppliers.

The following is standard content that should be provided in an O&M manual:

  • Details of building construction e.g. finishes, cladding, doors
  • Requirements for demolition, decommissioning and disposal
  • Asset register of plant and equipment
  • Manufacturer’s instructions for efficient and proper operation
  • Commissioning and testing results
  • Guarantees, warranties and certificates
  • As-built drawings and specifications


“Preparing O&M documentation is an aspect of a project that takes a lot of determination and structure.”
Morgan Sindall – Project Manager

Why are O&Ms a challenge for contractors?
O&Ms are a prerequisite for practical completion, yet the resource and time required to gather all relevant information is often underestimated or left too late. As a result, clients become disappointed with poor quality O&Ms at handover and will postpone sign off if they deem the O&M Manuals incomplete.

This reflects badly on the contractor and prevents valuable site staff from moving on to future projects as they rectify any problems. This also has a knock on effect for building managers and facilities maintenance teams who are unable to maintain their building efficiently and safely.


Top 5 reasons to outsource your O&Ms
Contractors have the option to produce manuals in house but it is often an unwelcome distraction from the core task of construction. The perceived cost in outsourcing O&Ms to a specialist provider can be an initial deterrent, particularly if it’s not budgeted for it in the cost plan. However, there are many advantages to working with a specialist provider;
  • Remove the burden from site teams
  • Eliminate stress at PC
  • Quality and consistent delivery
  • Reduced aftercare calls
  • Ensure a realistic budget for O&Ms in cost plans
What to look for in an O&M specialist:
If you’re looking to outsource your O&Ms, this should be done as early as practically possible. This enables the specialist provider to follow the construction plan and manage trades as and when they arrive on site.

Here are key questions to ask any potential provider:

  • Is project handover documentation the sole focus of the company? If not, why not?
  • Do they have the relevant experience, skills and resources to handle your project?
  • Is the service priced on the amount of work done? If it’s a percentage of construction value, question the relevance of this.
  • Is a total management role offered? i.e. site visits, structured review process, visibility of project progress.
  • Can they integrate O&M and asset data with client systems?
  • Do they provide an asset register of major plant items as standard?


Best Practice
A specialist provider should outline a fixed, managed process that underpins the way they deliver every project to ensure quality and consistency. Their role is to provide a total management service to control the flow of information in accordance with your construction programme. This is best achieved through early appointment; chasing all subcontractors, designers and suppliers for information as and when they start on site.


“Defining a set of best practice requirements ensures a standardised, quality set of deliverables at PC; which is invaluable to operational efficiency”
Broadgate Estates – Operations Director


To summarise, O&M manuals are an integral aspect of running and maintaining a building efficiently. Outsourcing to a dedicated single source provider should remove the burden from overstretched contractors, provide peace of mind to end clients and enable FM teams to plan for occupancy well in advance.

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