Relieving the building manager of sole responsibility

When you invest in a strata scheme, it’s inevitable that at one point or another, significant aspects of common property will need to be repaired or replaced – be it external painting, refurbishment of the main entrance foyer, replacing the roof membrane, the resurfacing of a pool and its immediate surrounds, major landscaping works, resurfacing of car parks and driveways and so on.

So how should a building manager go about organising the repairs?

I must, first, point out that in strata overseeing major projects is not an easy process as it is collectively dealing with people’s homes and investments along with some sensitive decisions. Body corporate committees often appoint this responsibility to the building manager as it can be done under many agreements. If this is the case, it is essential for building managers to ensure they go about the process correctly to both negate major disruptions and ensure expenditure results in value for money for all members of the body corporate.

Whilst many building managers set out with the best intentions in regards to overseeing major works, they simply may not carry the appropriate experience and qualifications to oversee all aspects of the project.

Without professional guidance, there can be cost blow outs, liability claims, prolonged unavailability of popular assets (like pools), restricted areas for owners (foyers, car parking and driveways) and unknown completion dates. Additionally, building managers can find themselves under siege by owners and the apportioning of whom is to blame can divide a previously well working, harmonious community.
The building manager of a large Gold Coast property recently, with all good intention, tried to manage the resurfacing of a large outdoor pool – including removing and replacing the membrane and relaying a pebble crete finish. After being told what was required by separate various contractors – several providing no guarantee or warranty for their work, and without a project manager to oversee and co-ordinate the numerous trades involved – what was budgeted as a $45,000 dollar project ended up costing $110,000.

By engaging a professional project manager from the outset of the project, the committee would have saved approximately $40,000 by utilising preferred trades, negotiating down what were high labour rates and clarifying and eliminating unnecessary works by identifying and defining a clear scope of works.

Additionally, it should be mentioned that a body corporate sinking fund should be evaluated before any major works are even considered. This will assist in the prevention of financial woes later down the track. A good sinking fund forecast can give a body corporate confidence to plan its capital expenditure over time, knowing the funds will be there when items need to be repaired or replaced.

Your strata manager can offer support in this area and general advice and guidance in finding an appropriate project management team for your scheme. Engaging professional assistance will support building managers, helping them fulfill their duties and possibly negate any personal action against them as well as ensure money is well spent and value is added to lot owner’s most important asset – their property.

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