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How facilities managers add value to your strata complex

July 21, 2021

It’s the things you don’t see in a building complex that tells the story. The rubbish that isn’t lying on the ground. The doors that don’t stick when you push them open. The lights that don’t flicker in the hallways.

Those things are down to your facilities manager.

Facilities managers, or building managers, work behind the scenes to make everyone’s lives run more smoothly. They’re the quiet achievers who work hand in hand with strata managers to make sure your building stays in great condition — and head off any nasty surprises.

Their role includes:

  • Routine maintenance checks
  • Minor repairs
  • Keeping common areas free of rubbish and debris
  • Managing waste disposal
  • Obtaining quotes and liaising with trades for larger work
  • Ensuring that the building and grounds are compliant with building codes and safety standards

For strata managers, a facilities manager can be the best secret weapon available when it comes to keeping strata owners happy. Strata managers take care of the financial and legal side of the complex, most of which can be done from their office. A building manager, on the other hand, is physically at the building, acting as the eyes and ears of the operation.

Here’s how they add value:

Personalised care

Because each complex has a dedicated building manager, that person gets to know the complex like it’s their own.  As Gavin Dunley, Facilities Manager for Independent, says: “I’m always looking at the building and thinking if I lived here, what would I want to be done?

Facilities managers also get to know the residents of their complexes. Which residents are more vulnerable, which are likely to cause damage and which are the ones who will complain about things. “That knowledge helps when we need to make decisions around security or when someone has dumped a bunch of rubbish in a common area. It’s just a little bit of insight into how the property works so we can be a bit strategic about preventing further issues,” says Gavin.

Eyes on the prize

Having that dedicated attention on the ground takes the pressure off both strata managers and residents. Often, a building manager can spot a problem while it’s still very small and deal with it on the spot. For example, an external lobby window that has stuck slightly open might not seem like a problem to most people. However, if it stays open, it will let in rain, causing water damage to the interior window casing, wall, and carpet.

Without the building manager to notice the problem, it will grow until a resident spots it and gets in touch with strata to request that it’s dealt with. The strata manager then has to come out and view the issue and take steps to get it fixed. Depending on how long it’s been allowed to continue, this might be a serious undertaking.

“One great example we had recently was that the irrigation system on one of our complexes was set wrong and wasn’t watering everything it needed to,” explains Gavin. “The gardener comes weekly, so they wouldn’t have noticed the problem for a while. It was summer, so things die fast without water. I did some watering by hand so the plants wouldn’t die before the next gardener visit, and then I just had a chat with him and we were able to reset the system so it did the job from then on. It’s sometimes really small things like that, that are simple to fix but if I wasn’t there could result in a big ugly dead lawn.”

That immediate attention can also help prevent safety hazards.

“You do see some strange things in this job,” Gavin says. “There’s a guy who walks through the grounds, not a resident but someone who uses the complex as a shortcut. The other day I saw him go into the bin room, grab a glass bottle from the recycling bin and throw it against the wall. Of course, broken glass can’t wait until the next time the cleaners are due, because it’s a safety hazard. So that’s the sort of thing I’ll clean up on the spot.”

Bridging the gap between strata and trades

Building managers generally come from a trade background and are knowledgeable about what needs to be done. This is beneficial in a few ways.

Having someone who knows the physical ins and outs of the building is invaluable when it comes to liaising with trades. They’re able to point out the problem and relay the relevant information so that the tradesperson knows what they’re dealing with.

“Whether I find the original issue or it’s raised with strata first, I’m the one who will meet the trade,” says Gavin. “I’ll direct them to the problem, and guide them so that they know what we want to be done. If it’s an issue that one of our regular contractors would take care of, like a gardener or cleaner, I can usually have a chat with them directly and save some time. If it’s more complex, that’s where it’s useful that I understand the work that needs to be done. I can speak the right language to explain the issue.”

It’s not just the tradesperson who can benefit from Gavin’s experience.

“I can also take back that information to the strata manager and the executive committee,” he continues. “Most residents aren’t going to have that trade background, so being able to explain the work that needs to be done in terms they understand is really valuable.”

Prevention is cheaper than cure

Strata property, like any other property, is an asset. For most people, their biggest asset. Strata managers and building managers are professionals who are there to help you preserve and increase its value.

Most of us understand that regular servicing is essential to keep a car in good working order. The same applies to a building. Spotting small issues as they arise can stop them from turning into big repairs, saving serious money down the track.

Similarly, a building complex that is well maintained is more likely to attract great tenants and house-proud owners who will do their part to keep it that way. Having professional help is the best way to achieve that.

If you’re an owner or strata manager who wants to find out more about what value Independent Facilities Management can bring to your complex, get in touch. We’ll be delighted to get in touch for an obligation-free consultation.