All properties need maintenance. For a modern development, this may be limited to cleaning and perhaps gardening. For Georgian or Edwardian Buildings, the level of maintenance will be considerably more and will entail issues such as redecoration of windows or large hallways and most likely the roof repairs. But whether the building is modern or more mature, the key issues around the appointment of contractors remain the same, getting good value, competent individuals who understand what the job you are seeking them to do. Here are a few things to consider:
- There seems to be a UK obsession with getting ‘ three quotes’. One has to ask to what end exactly? The moment you have those three quotes there will be a ‘race to the bottom’. There will always be those on the decision-making team for whom least cost will be the preferred option, and once there is a cheap price on the table moving to the more expensive will be a challenge. Far more sensible is doing proper research. Find out contractors that have been successfully used by others. Ask the contractor to provide references and if possible physically take a look at some of their work.
- If it is a complex piece of work such as roof repairs it is best to engage a professional (such as a chartered surveyor) to assess what work really needs doing. They are likely to know suitable contractors, the contractor will have a specification to work to and the surveyor can check the work at the end.
- Regardless of the contractor, there remain some essential checks you need to make. Firstly, make sure they are competent. Don’t be afraid to ask for qualifications or ensure they have membership of an appropriate professional body. Critical is to ensure they have appropriate insurance for the work they are doing. This is relevant, even for people like gardeners. We know of an example where a Gardner punctured a water main, costing hundreds to repair.
- Appointing a contractor, particularly for routine work, you need to set down some ground rules. For example working times. Do you really want a cleaner attending at 6.00am on a Sunday morning? There are also things such as use of radios on site and the storage of materials. All can cause considerable nuisance to residents.
- Of course, issues are not all one way. When you are appointing a contractor you must take on a duty of care to the individuals coming on to your site. Are they using your electricity? is the supply safe for the equipment they are going to use? If they are using your equipment, perhaps a sit on mower for example; has it been serviced?
- And one for both sides to consider, is the work you are asking them to do legal? A gardener cut back some bushes off a bin store roof at the request of the leaseholder. He then found himself under threat of prosecution by the Local Council because the trees were in a conservation area and a licence was required before the trees could be touched.
Appointing contractors is not straightforward. By using a managing agent such as PM Property Management releases you from these worries. We check their insurance, monitor their work and ensure what is delivered is both of good value and quality.