Spending money on preventative maintenance is essential for safety and compliance - but implemented correctly, it also saves the owners corporation money by prolonging the life of capital works items in the building.
Items of regular maintenance that should be part of your programmed maintenance service in a building include:
Fire services - passive and active
Sprinkler pumps (diesel and electrical), fire doors, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, fire indicator panels, backup power supply systems, stairwell pressurisation fans, emergency exit lights, emergency evacuation diagrams, block plans, sprinkler heads, valves and dampers are just some of the items that need to be maintained in accordance with the building code.
An entryway into and out of a building may need to be regularly serviced in order to be compliant. The backup batteries also need to be replaced in accordance with the building code.
Although not subject to building code laws, roller doors, tilt doors and swing gates at the entrance to communal car parks need regular servicing. We know of an owners corporation that decided to change from quarterly servicing to annual servicing to 'reduce fees', only to then find that the door needed full replacement (circa $20,000) 5 years earlier than it should have.
Usually, lifts are serviced every 2 months, and most providers insist on 5-year contracts.
Located on the roof to facilitate either safe roof works, or abseiling, (there are different types of anchor points available), these need to be certified every 12 months.
Although not strictly programmed maintenance, an arrangement needs to be in place for a company to monitor your fire indicator panel remotely. When functioning as it should, the fire panel will call the fire brigade to the property in the event of a fire or a fault. This requires an annual fee, and in some cases, a phone line as well.
Recycled water plants are common in many modern apartment buildings and require a plumber to attend twice a year to ensure all is in order.
Swimming pools Pools can be quite expensive to run, from the regular water testing, to pump maintenance, to programmed water heater checks.
Hot water system
Communal hot water plants are often located on the roof, and best practice is to have a 6 monthly regular service, with an overhaul every 18 months. This prevents blockages in the pipes, which can lead to the units failing; cold showers are less than ideal in the middle of winter.
This covers everything from exhaust fans and carbon monoxide sensors in enclosed car parks, to air conditioning in a lift motor room, to ducting throughout the building. The owners corporation needs to ensure that all maintenance is undertaken in accordance with necessary building codes.
As well as sprinkler pumps for the fire system, a large building can have booster pumps, sewer pumps, sump pumps and lift pumps. Like other items we have already mentioned, the effects of a neglected pump maintenance regime may not be instantly obvious, but suddenly having 3 booster pumps fail at once can lead to people living on the top levels without water coming out of their taps or showers. An insurer may be less willing to pay out a 'loss-of-rent' or 'temporary accommodation' claim if the reason a resident needs to move out is because the owners corporation neglected to maintain the necessary services.
Thermographic testing of electrical switchboards
A commercial electrician will be able to test the switchboards every 12 months to check the temperature and keep fire risks down to a minimum.
A backflow specialist plumber will need to test that water isn't flowing from the building into the mains water supply under the street - this even applies to many townhouse developments. An annual report will then need to be submitted to the local water authority.
Your facility manager will be able to coordinate all of the above maintenance - it's what they are paid to do.
Do you know the items that need maintenance in your building? Melb OC offers annual 'behind the scenes' tours to all owners of each precinct under management, to allow a deeper understanding of where programmed maintenance fees are spent.