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19/07/2011

Building Surveyors working within commercial real estate agencies undertake many different roles and provide advice in many situations. One day it might be a pre-acquisition survey for a blue chip client, the next working on a large project management instruction.

Clients have a variety of property issues; leaks in offices, damaged or defective windows, spalled brickwork or damaged tiles. Each problem is likely to have a unique and particular solution and a qualified Building Surveyor can visit the site, analyse the problem and identify the right solution.

The age of the properties concerned may be fairly new of they  may be 30 or 100 years old, but most of them don't have a comprehensive Planned Maintenance Programme.

Any business with an interest in a property should know the condition of their stock at any time, including what is wrong and how much it is likely to cost to put right. Small issues can be undertaken on a reactive maintenance basis, but the big ticket items need to be clearly identified as they can have a massive impact on the financial standing of the business and their financial reporting.

A Landlord has primary responsibility for looking after his building stock, and for many tenancies, the money for maintenance comes out of the service charge. Tenants who pay a service charge expect the building to be maintained to the right standard.

Five years ago, the condition of a property was of secondary consideration to its investment value and long term opportunity, but that has changed and Landlords are finding that the investment value and sale price of their properties are being chipped away by the cost of carrying out repairs.

In addition, there is a growth in the adoption of the RICS Service Charge code, where a Landlord needs to show good management of the service charge and greater transparency in how the money is spent.

The argument in favour of a robust, detailed and costed Maintenance Programme is very strong for the Landlord, but the production of a Planned Maintenance Programme for a Tenant will also assist them with their liability.

It is common for leases to specify that Tenant occupiers should carry out repairs to the property at the end of the lease or during breaks. There are many legal arguments for not doing any work and arguing with a landlord at the end of the lease, but if issues occur it is more than important to have a good handle on the repair and maintenance costs. If a tenant is going to be spending money on the property it makes sense to bring that work forward and gain some benefit from it whilst in occupation, whilst avoiding the shock of costly dilapidations at the end of the lease. It pays to be aware at every stage.

The danger of not identifying the costs of extensive maintenance in a timely manner, can also have an impact on bottom line profits and subsequently to the operation of the business. Maintenance work can also impact on the business if the work involves closing part of the property causing production to stop, staff having to be moved or procedures to be carried out in a different way. All will have a financial impact.

Planned Maintenance programmes are working documents which identify all that is required relating to the property. They can also include the necessary fire inspection reports, DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) Audit information, statutory water, lift and engineers testing. They ensure that a property owner, leaseholder or landlord is fully informed about all aspects of their property.

Planned Maintenance advice from Vail Williams goes even further. Our Programmes also provide an energy assessment, giving a details analysis of how much replacement windows or roofs might cost and explaining how to make the property more energy efficient. By choosing the right energy solution there will be reduction in running costs, better energy efficiency and ultimately a more desirable property.

Planned Maintenance Programmes should be used everywhere for all properties. New cars get maintenance programmes - why shouldn't properties?!