What does a facilities manager do for your off plan property?
First time owning a strata title property? Or the latest in a string of investment properties? Either way, you already know that strata is quite different from other forms of ownership.
The good news is that strata properties come with a team of professionals. Facilities manager are one of the MVPs. They work hand in hand with your strata manager to help protect and maintain your strata title property.
Why is maintenance so important? It helps to:
- Maintain and increase the value of your property
- Avoid costly repairs down the track
- Attract great tenants
- Offer a pleasant and safe living environment
We spoke to Craig Gavin, General Manager of Laing & Simmons Facilities Management, to find out what a facilities manager does and how they can help you.
Case study: Sandy
Sandy is a first home owner and lives alone in her new strata title apartment. Her job as a fashion consultant means that she often gets home from work after dark. The facilities manager in her building checks that pathways and corridors are well lit, fixes trip hazards and keeps the building in good condition. Knowing that someone keeps an eye on the building and checks for forced entry helps her feel secure. He's even helped her bring in her shopping!
Taking a holistic approach to maintenance
A facilities manager works on-site so they get to know your building better than anyone else. That allows them to take a wholistic view of the maintenance required.
"At the start of the day, the building manager does a perimeter walk,” says Craig. “They’ll see if anything is damaged or getting worn, and pick up any litter. If a light isn’t working, or there's a small leak, we’ll spot it straight away before it causes bigger issues.”
Case study: Miriam and John
With three teenage children and two full-time jobs, life is very busy for investors Miriam and John. They don't have time to deal with trades and other issues, so at the last executive committee meeting they proposed hiring a facilities manager. The facilities manager created a schedule of works and presented it to the owners corporation and strata manager. This has allowed Miriam and John to plan their budget and enjoy peace of mind that the development is being well cared for.
Making repairs and liaising with trades
Minor repairs can be dealt with on the spot. “If it doesn't need a specialist, we’ll take care of it as part of our normal duties.”
Things like cracked or lifted pavers, minor patching jobs on walls or a leaking tap in the common area can be fixed promptly. No more wasting extra time and money on calling out trades—or, worse, the fault being left to sit there and deteriorate.
Where repairs do need a trade, facilities managers can take the load. They’ll:
- Organise quotes or deal directly with preferred suppliers
- Be there to give the tradesperson access so that owners don't have to take time off work
- Explain the job and assess whether the proposed repair is appropriate
Facilities managers ensure that trades are complying with safe work practices. These might include:
- Compliant safety equipment
- Proper licensing
- Correctly accessing high risk areas.
If the trade isn’t compliant and an accident occurs, liability insurance might not pay out, so it's a high stakes situation.
Trades aren't the only ones who need to comply with legislation. There are several codes and standards that apply to developments, which can be hard for an owners corporation to keep up with. Non-compliance might mean your building insurance is null and void.
“A lot of things need to comply with legislation, so we include a general compliance check in our daily routine,” Craig explains. He and his team check:
- The doors to the fire isolated stairwell are kept closed
- Fire extinguishers are tagged and operational
- Pathways are clear of debris
- Emergency phones work
Acting as a consultant
One way to think of a facility manager is as an interpreter. Does a ‘second fix’ sound like something to be scored down a dark alley? Not sure what’s flush and what’s flashing? Having a specialist on board can help.
A facilities manager can explain complex regulations and standards. When repairs are needed, they can also help you understand what’s required and why it's important.
“We’re really building consultants,” says Craig. "We deal with the building on a daily basis and we get to know it. That means we can give the owners the info they need to hear about its upkeep so they can increase its longevity. It might mean some money upfront, but it's all about looking after the building long term”.
Facilities and strata management: working hand in hand
Every owner in a strata title property belongs to the owners corporation. Both the strata manager and the facilities manager work for the owners corporation, but they also work together.
The bottom line: what's in it for you
Your property is an asset, whether it pays you a rental income or you live in it while building equity for the future. By making sure that it is well maintained, you will:
- Help it increase in value so you can leverage the equity when you come to upgrade or buy an investment property
- Attract tenants who care about a well-maintained property and be motivated to care for it themselves
- Enjoy living somewhere safe and attractive that you can be proud of
- Save on upkeep by attending to issues before they worsen and become expensive to fix
“When someone spends $40,000 on a brand new car," says Craig, “the chances are that they’ll never miss a service or delay a tyre replacement because they want to keep it in tip top condition. If you own part of a development worth several million dollars, the same should be true. Professional help is the best way to preserve and increase its value”.
To learn more about what to look for in a facilities manager and what questions to ask, read on. If you’re considering engaging a facilities manager to help you protect your investment, get in touch with your strata manager who can recommend a trusted professional like Laing+Simmons Facilities Management.
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