FM could make or break the value of your property
The secret behind prime real estate
When you read the term ‘property value’, the first thing that may potentially spring to your mind is a location, a developer’s name, or a glitzy billboard image. While the initial development is certainly a factor in the value of property, the surveyors, asset managers, and FM teams working in the background are likely to be able to offer some interesting opinions on factors which can either support or greatly impair the value of property over time.
To sustain property value, the specification of the original development means very little if the building is not managed and maintained in a manner that supports a natural maturity rather than a rapid degradation. Unfortunately, we frequently consult on cases where the latter has become an inevitability.
Generally, when buildings of multiple ownership start to degrade, it’s from what we would term the ‘back of house’ areas, such as basements, service floors, roofspaces – all the places where critical building assets reside. The reasons for this are fairly simple – there is less aggravation from a building manger or an owners’ association (OA) if the more frequented areas are well kept. It’s easier to conceal the problem if the reception, gym, and pool look good.
But this is a false economy for the long term owner – and I reiterate, ‘long term’ owner – as it is very much a short term mentality that’s the problem here. Ignoring the back of house problems will inevitably lead to some costly repairs in the future, and a good FM strategy will help avoid this problem.
Many of the issues we discover on site are inherited from the original contractor – for example, incorrect or non-existent fire stopping, or general poor quality workmanship. Some issues can be contributed to the original design, where inadequate space renders component replacement a near impossibility. However, many defects are directly related to maintenance activity, or specifically where a planned preventative maintenance item becomes a reactive problem.
What then, if that reaction is not carried out with sufficient dexterity, or if there are inadequate funds to initiate the work? What happens to the cooling tower when it’s allowed to degrade? What happens when the chillers fail due to poor maintenance or spare part replacement? The answer is that in the future, someone will have a real headache on their hands. And if you’re an owner in the building, so will you.
We have to bear in mind that FM teams change over time – for an OA, the FM team is another service provider to be tendered and negotiated with for better price.
Frequent FM team replacement can mean that minor issues get ignored over time, continuously becoming another firm’s problems to inherit – or ignore. Developing a longstanding relationship with a quality service provider can pay dividends, particularly since negligence can so easily be passed on from one firm to another. A read of any snagging list provided by a replacement FM firm will indicate the scale of the problem.
The overarching issue here is the short term mentality – spend cheap now, pay dear in the future – as well as passing the buck. The good FM we work with understand and control these issues. Eventually, those who don’t will be exposed, but by then it may be too late for the property to recover.