Avoiding the ‘ seven deadly sins ’ of block maintenance – don’t get caught in the trap

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By Damien Finnegan

Seven deadly sinsHaving a Planned Maintenance Programme/Capital Expenditure Plan (PMP/Capex Plan) that enables building repairs to be properly scheduled and budgeted for sounds like an obvious solution for the upkeep of blocks of flats and other major buildings.

Yet it’s amazing how often landlords, property managers and boards of directors fail to engage a surveyor to produce a plan or act on their existing PMP/Capex Plan, which means they often end up fire-fighting. In other words, carrying out repairs reactively, on an as-and-when basis. This is one of the ‘seven deadly sins’ – or common mistakes – of block maintenance.

The other six are:

  1. Not knowing and understanding the building
  2. Not getting expert advice in time
  3. Not collecting sufficient reserve funds
  4. Not having enough information to make informed decisions
  5. Not addressing known problems head on
  6. Frequently spending small sums of money on reactive repairs

But all of the above can be easily avoided. Here’s how.

Know and understand your building

Firstly, it is essential to know everything there is to know about the property –

  • when it was built,
  • how it was constructed,
  • any typical defects associated with that type of construction and
  • what works have previously been carried out.

If you don’t know, find out and get expert advice.

It goes without saying that having an up-to-date PMP/Capex Plan will help landlords and property managers to make informed decisions and set appropriate budgets to keep on top of their responsibilities.

Debunking the mythology behind the common mistakes

 Unfortunately the road to successful block maintenance is littered with obstacles that can easily be overcome.

One of these is in not knowing where to start, as there is insufficient or inaccurate information about the state of the building. The answer is to get expert advice and invest in a proper maintenance plan.

Another myth is that anyone can put a budget plan together which will take into account all necessary works and costs. An effective budget plan needs to be created by a relevant qualified expert and will take account of things like phasing, coordinating scaffold-dependent works together. This will cost less than the long-term consequences of not adopting the right approach.

Similarly, trying to organise and manage works without the appropriate technical and management skills usually leads to shoddy workmanship and wasting money.

Overcoming the common mistakes

Here are the recommended steps for avoiding the ‘seven deadly sins’ of block maintenance:

  • Not knowing and understanding the building – consult appropriately experienced experts – Spend time with whoever you intend appointing – meet them at their offices and/or on site – Be confident that they can help you – Check out their experience and ask for testimonials of similar projects that they have worked on.
  • Not getting expert advice in time – appoint appropriately qualified and experienced professionals, such as surveyors, property managers and legal advisors who understand statutory procedures and leases – Don’t always go for the cheapest fees – Focus on experience!
  • Not implementing and following a PMP/Capex Plan – appoint an independent chartered surveyor to carry out an initial maintenance audit or condition survey as a minimum.
  • Not collecting sufficient reserve funds – ensure there is an up to date and relevant PMP/CapEx Plan covering 5, 10 or 20 years so you can plan funding in time.
  • Not having enough information to make informed decisions – discuss the outcome of the PMP/Capex Plans with all stakeholders and confirm the works required, by when, and the associated costs – and action it! An appropriately experienced surveyor will be able to explain in plain English what you need to know in order to fully understand what decisions need to be made in order to manage/help reduce risks.
  • Not addressing known problems head on – don’t just wing it, follow the process. Seek advice and trust your professional team.
  • Frequently spending small sums of money on reactive repairs – Take stock of condition, set the vision with confidence – set the budget and programme in a timely manner and collect the necessary funds

Following the above will ultimately remove the roadblocks to keeping your building in a good state of maintenance and repair.

 IT’S A FACT

  • The benefits of Planned Maintenance are long term.
  • It all starts with the Vision, then the Plan followed by the Action!

 

 

Posted on 5 April, 2016

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