If you’re one of the many Canberrans living in a strata complex, you already know the complex runs differently from a free-standing house. But do you know just how much work goes on behind the scenes?
As anyone who’s taken a drive out to the new suburbs on Canberra’s fringe already knows, the building boom is on. And it’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
The ACT Planning Strategy 2018 found the nation’s capital will need to build around 100,000 new houses during the next 20 years to accommodate a projected population boom of 170,000 people.
At the same time, inner city town centres such as Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Woden and the CBD are shifting to high-density housing as the ACT Planning Strategy shifts to urban infill.
These large strata complexes offer a practical way for Canberra residents to get their foot on the housing ladder. However, with so many people living close together, it’s vital the buildings are run efficiently and kept well maintained.
To achieve this, strata managers work hand-in-hand with facilities managers.
Most of us are familiar with strata managers. These professionals handle the legal and financial side of a strata complex. They ensure you have suitable insurance, comply with all legislation and have enough money to keep the building well maintained.
What you might not know is that behind the scenes your facilities manager is working just as hard. Facilities managers, or building managers, take care of the day-to-day operational control of the complex.
Because they’re physically onsite, they are the first to pick up any problems large and small. But their role isn’t just reactive.
Independent Property Group director Grahame O’Brien says facilities managers are the quiet achievers of the team.
“These guys are out there every day doing the things which attract us to live in a strata development,” he says. “They are fixing the doors which are sticking, making sure there’s no rubbish on the grounds, checking handrails and much more.”
Facilities managers do routine maintenance checks, minor repairs and quick fixes on the spot. Because they’re usually assigned to a single complex, or a few smaller buildings, they get to know the place inside out.
Independent Property Group facilities manager Gavin Dunley says he treats the building like it’s his own.
“If I see something that needs doing, and I’d want it fixed in my own home, I’ll make sure it gets fixed here,” he says.
Having someone on the spot means small jobs can be done with a minimum of fuss. If someone has scraped paint off a wall while moving in, a rubbish bin has blown over in the wind, or a garden tap is leaking, a facilities manager can take care of it then and there. That saves the time and effort of alerting a strata manager and organising an external tradesperson to come and help.
When external providers are needed, it’s the facilities manager who acts as liaison between you and them.
“A large part of our job is finding cleaners, gardeners or tradespeople, and making sure they know what’s required and reporting back to the owners,” says Gavin. “If something comes up that’s out of the ordinary, we have that ongoing relationship with contractors so it’s easy for us to have a chat and alert them.”
There is also immeasurable value to the residents in having an onsite facilities manager who can take pride in a safe, well maintained home. Facilities managers regularly check fire doors, emergency exits and smoke alarms to ensure compliance and safety regulations are met. They facilitate rubbish disposal and recycling to keep the complex clear of slip hazards and to maintain a pleasant environment.
And, of course, prevention is always cheaper than cure.
By instituting a system of proactive maintenance and checks, facilities managers can head off problems at the pass. They undertake routine checks of all common areas, including basements and car parks that can otherwise fly under the radar. They know when hot water systems were last serviced and when the smoke alarms are due to be replaced.
Perhaps most importantly of all, facilities managers offer a personal touch. The friendly face you see around the complex sets the tone for a pleasant living environment and helps residents feel safe, welcome and happy that their home is being presented in its best possible light.
Now that’s value you can’t put a price on.
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