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How an ‘apples for apples’ comparison can help with best practice in strata maintenance

Dec 11, 2019

What factors should strata managers consider if they aim to implement effective and successful strata maintenance on an on-going basis?

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A study by the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) City Futures Research Centre found that repairs and maintenance are the most important aspects strata managers need to get right; and that the most common impediments to successful strata maintenance were unclear maintenance plans and an unsystematic approach to maintenance.

Throw into this mix the challenges of having to assess contractors in the absence of a common standard, and the need for an ‘apples for apples’ comparison when evaluating prospective contractors and their quotes on strata maintenance work becomes significant.

Including the following aspects in the process when assessing contractors and quotes may make such evaluations easier by providing a framework for ‘apples for apples’ comparisons that do not rely solely on price.

Clear scope of work and methodology in Strata maintenance

A clear scope of works and methodology help strata managers understand what tasks are to be accomplished, and the way in which these tasks will be completed. Being able to compare quotes with similar scopes of works and methodology ensure a fairer and more equitable comparison; so, if needs be, ask suppliers to quote against the same scope.

Take into consideration any inclusions and exclusion; these may result in hidden costs. Be clear about the methodology and be wary if details are minimal. Quotes with little information around methodology make it hard to determine what you are paying for. To facilitate a proper evaluation of the quote, obtain a clear explanation of the methodology as this can hugely impact price. As an example, quotes for painting works can differ based on the number of coats and the quality of paint products to be applied. Being aware of the actual number of coats and types of paint each contractor will use makes for better-informed assessments.

Safety in Strata maintenance

Are safety practices of a similar standard? This too can influence the price. Where working at heights is necessary, for instance, one company may adhere to strict safety precautions with proper harnesses, scaffolds and elevated work platforms as opposed to another taking a more laissez-faire approach.

It is very common for strata managers to presume a contractor is safe simply because they have all their insurances. However, having the insurances doesn’t translate into being safe when on site. Strata managers should consider the fact that strata managers themselves, the strata company and their contractors have an equal liability; i.e. if someone is injured on the site, the strata manager, Owners’ Corporation and the company performing the works can all be held culpable. So, verifying the approach to safety is crucial; or there could, quite literally, be a price to pay otherwise.

Added Value

Additional value is found in areas strata managers and their end customers – residents and tenants – would consider important. To derive what is believed to be the most cost-effective quote, it is wise to look beyond dollar amounts alone.

Experience, expertise and previous projects

While the scope of work and methodology inform strata managers of the specifics of the job, strata managers need to also know that their maintenance providers have the proper experience and expertise to deliver a quality result.

Experienced professionals can often specify a safer and better way of achieving the same objective, and with better outcomes too.

Delivery timeframes

A quote for a large project may be cheaper from a small-scale company but could see a longer delivery timeframe. But a bigger company with a larger workforce and equipment inventory, could be offering safer, faster completion for the same project albeit at a higher price. The latter will help the strata manager minimise disruption and prioritise convenience to residents or, in the case of commercial-use properties, maximise trading opportunities for tenants. These factors could make it more worthwhile for the strata manager to choose the second option.

Quality and safety assurance by Strata contractors

A company certified to meet international standards for quality and safety assurance should be held in high regard. The certification process for these standards involve extremely rigorous checks and audits on both front and back end processes. Strata managers can very likely be assured of safe, high-quality outcomes when engaging companies able to successfully meet the stringent standards for on-going certification.

Trust

Be astute; work with reputable contractors. Reliable and trusted contractors often underpin their work with resolute customer relationships because they view themselves as partners, rather than just suppliers. This minimises concerns around defective work as these contractors are as equally invested in outcomes and long-term horizons as strata managers. Importantly, strata managers can go back to the contractors if necessary. Such trust and reliability may not be present in transactions with contractors providing one-off services or extremely cheap quotes as they may be unwilling to revisit sites to rectify issues, or worse, may no longer operate.

Properly planned maintenance

Properly planned maintenance The ability to demonstrate well-considered, methodical and proven approaches to maintenance are key when deciding upon contractors. Regular maintenance that is planned and targeted can help stave off replacement costs and extend the lifespan of assets. Sometimes, this may result in increased annual expenditure but it will very importantly decrease the need to raise special levies, which should be reserved for instances of major works. Contractors able to help strata managers take a preventative, rather than reactive, approach, will deliver better value and more cost-effective, longer lasting results in the long run. Speak to contractors to see how they propose to regularly maintain every single aspect of the strata complex, and what their methods are for doing this without emptying the sinking fund while still ensuring the strata property always looks it best.

Programmed is the expert in strata maintenance. We can help implement effective and successful strata maintenance on an on-going basis. Speak to us today and make unclear maintenance plans and unsystematic approaches to maintenance a thing of the past forever.

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