Nothing takes a bite out of your budget like maintenance issues. Whether it’s the landscaping and regular upkeep that are recurring expenses or those surprise projects  that sneak up on you, maintenance can account for an average of 25% or more of your strata's overall expenditures. 
Some Strata Councils opt to spend less, which can be good – but they go about it the wrong way. Strata Councils that defer essential maintenance may find that small problems become bigger ones later on, and those repairs may need to be accommodated through special levies. Even worse, big jobs cost more, so saving pennies now may cost you real dollars later on down the road when the issue exacerbates. This often happens when a Strata Council hasn’t established a relationship with a reliable, forward-thinking property management company that knows how to keep important maintenance issues from being put on the back burner.
Most Councils approach maintenance programs in one of three ways. Take a look at the different types below and see which one applies to you.
Maintenance Style #1: Reactive Maintenance, or “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”
You are probably saying “No, that doesn’t apply to me.” And that’s good. But more Councils than you think are guilty of this kind of approach. Even the most proactive Councils adopt this philosophy now and then. Of course, it’s not that there aren’t upsides – after all, it will seem like you are saving a lot of money, but only in the short term. The problem is that most parts of your community don’t have to be fully broken to require maintenance and upkeep, so when you allow them to fall into disrepair, it costs even more money to make them operational. Think of it this way – it’s not dissimilar to never getting the oil changed in your car because you want to save money, then having the unpleasant surprise that you need to purchase an entire new engine.
Maintenance Style #2: Preventive Maintenance
Generally this is a good approach, but it comes with a few things to out watch for. Often the autopilot types have followed regular service schedules for the community’s essentials and engaged with reliable contractors who can complete the work on time and on budget. Think you’ve done everything you can, right? Well, maybe not. First of all, paying attention to just a select group of requirements and turning a blind eye to other possibilities could result in an unpleasant maintenance sneak attack. Further, Councils who take the preventive maintenance approach may run into trouble when a new Strata Council takes over, because the new Council may not carefully read the existing contracts and warranties, thereby unwittingly voiding them. Preventative maintenance may be an approach with the best of intentions, but good intentions are no substitute for thorough, diligent action. That said, if you take a comprehensive approach and ensure a smooth transition from Council to Council, preventive maintenance offers a responsible, balanced approach.
Maintenance Style #3: Predictive Maintenance, or “There Are No Surprises”
This is perhaps the most aspirational of the three options, predictive maintenance requires ongoing monitoring and inspections of all your buildings, facilities and equipment. Doing so will allow you to see which elements are operating at optimum capacity, which ones might need attention down the road, and which ones require action right away. It positions you for financial stability and greater predictability, and almost importantly, allows you to plan far enough ahead so you can implement proactive money-savers, such as green building practices or the use of more energy efficient equipment and materials. Needless to say, predictive maintenance is the style that serves Strata communities best.
So now that you know the three maintenance approaches, your next question is How do I get from where I am now to preventive or predictive maintenance? The answer is through a reliable Strata management company. With knowledge of local trades and experts, along with deep experience in creating preventive and predictive maintenance schedules, these professionals can help engineer a proactive program to maximize your savings and minimize any unpleasant surprises.
If you would like more information on what the right property management company can do for you, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.
Sunday June 29, 2014