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    Operations in Commercial Buildings

Building Management vendor Change:

Should you change your building management vendor?
Why should you change?
What are the benefits and liabilities?
Will it help you?

We will set the scene:

Residential apartment block, common basement of two levels, 5 towers, total of 161 apartments. Circa 8 years old
The issue: basically the place is in disrepair, shabby, repeat fixes, building management vendor Forte Asset Services trades peopleand a little ore worn than what it should be.
Does the condition effect the value: personally I would argue yes, its like trying to sell a dirty car with a radio that doesn’t work, its not major, but rather “off putting” and shows a lack of respect for their possessions.

What is the cause?

In discussions with the committee, we found was that the incumbent Building Management company were doing the absolute bare minimum of the scope yet charging for the owners for the full scope.
That is, the incumbent Building Management company had the expertise to do a good job, they just used very low cost sub-contractors constantly whom cut corners to get the job done and still make a profit; eventually, after 5 years, the results showed in the condition of the services and the common areas.
Our client sought to have the cleanliness and overall “new feel” of the common areas returned to their previous original state without massive capital costs.
Considering a change in your building management vendor
Our concern, was that if we took on the building Management of the site, would we be expected to offer a low cost agreement to meet the example of our predecessors.

Were the committee members aware there would likely be higher costs in the initial months of the agreement as services and common areas were brought back into the condition they ought to be in.
We revisited the site several times to ascertain more details of the condition of the common areas of the site and make a judgment on their repairs and costs along with on-going cleaning and ad hoc maintenance.

So what was the real cost to the Owners

The real cost would have been in the “perceived value” of the site while the common areas were in a rundown state. The true financial cost is difficult and subjective to estimate, especially to those whom sold a unit during the last two or three years within the complex, when the poor maintenance and janitorial works would have begun to really show.

The people that bought in to the complex during that time and are now seeing the benefits of the improvements and sustained upkeep maintenance would likely have gained a financial advantage as a result.
The “feel” of the unit complex is now much more homely, clean, and cared for and less like Building management operations vendoran older style “clinical hospital”, and it’s this “feel” we believe, assists in the overall value and performance of the site.
It is so much more welcoming now than it was before.

What improvements were made?

In the common areas we focused on the following:

  1. Scuff marks on walls
  2. Removing old red wine and coffee stains from the carpets
  3. Replacing and upgrading light fittings
  4. Cleaning the black “soot” form around air vent diffusers
  5. Painting old Gyp-rock and plaster repairs
  6. Painting plaster board in cupboards and fire services cupboards
  7. Labeling riser doors, access panels, fire stair, fire dampers, gave it a more professional feel
  8. Painted all the fire stairs
  9. Cleaned out all the rubbish in the fire stairs
  10. Put safety notices around the swimming pool and the Gym

In the Car park we focused on these items:

  1. Regular full sweeps with a machine
  2. Repainted the lines
  3. Labeled the fans and plenum doors
  4. Replaced the light globs form T8 to T5 (LEDs being trialed currently)
  5. Replaced the floor tiling in the elevator lobby
  6. Added additional lighting to remove that “creepy” feel in parts
  7. Added motion detectors for after hours (midnight to 5 am)
  8. The roller door serviced to quieten it down and hold open for peak hours to reduce wear

So overall the feel of the apartment complex improved dramatically, the additional costs for repairs were spread over a 12 month period, with a priority set for legislative and Safety issues compliance.

Nigel Wraight
Principle
Forte Asset Services

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