Property Maintenance During COVID-19

Gary Rogers
When will we return to our offices and buildings? That is a question that we are all asking, both from professional and personal perspectives.

Our Faithful+Gould team are acutely aware of the affect COVID-19 has had on day to day operation of buildings. As our clients have adjusted to their staff working remotely, their properties are left either monitored, staffed with a reduced workforce or entirely closed. We suspect the way our clients work and use their buildings is changed for ever. At the same time, we are all looking to reduce costs and overheads, in order to weather this storm. So, with empty buildings and a need to save costs, one seemingly simple solution may be to reduce or stop all maintenance activity (routine or planned).

You can’t do nothing

Ceasing all maintenance activity is not a recommended course of action, particularly as the UK Government has not relaxed “statutory” legislation in connection with maintenance activities. However, a reduction in maintenance activity, ensuring statutory/legislative tasks are still carried out, is an option to occupiers.

What you must do

There are minimum standards available to be applied to a property portfolio. The Faithful+Gould team have developed and deployed maintenance strategies for our clients which ensure delivery of those standards. In their simplest form they include (this list is not exclusive and depends on variety of systems installed within the property):

  • L8 requirements for water hygiene and cooling towers
  • Fire detection system testing and maintenance
  • Electrical safety checks
  • Gas safety inspections and maintenance
  • Security systems monitoring

At the same time unoccupied buildings present opportunities for vandalism and worse. At the very least it is therefore prudent to have checks made on buildings during periods of closure. Ideally there would be permanent forms of security deployed in between those checks. An added benefit will be using the ‘checker’ to double up in identifying any reactive maintenance instances where issues require to be addressed to prevent damage to the building if left undetected. For example, a leaking rooflight could lead to costly repair if left undetected for a period of a few weeks or longer.

Similarly scaffolding, whether for investigations or construction operations, should be routinely checked to make sure they are safe, and any netting applied is intact and not fouling any pedestrian areas. These responsibilities may not always fall on contractors to undertake depending upon why they are installed.

Looking after your assets

For many organisations their buildings are one of their most important assets. Whether in a monetary sense, as collaboration space, or storage for even greater assets, your buildings are integral to your business. We very much understand the financial pressures the current situation has presented. With a world leading Strategic Asset Management Team, Faithful+Gould are ideally placed to assist our clients in going the step beyond the minimum and ensuring the UK property portfolio is cared for during this time.

Having been involved in authoring key industry maintenance standards, we are tailoring our knowledge to address the challenge that follows on from lockdown. We have focused on what is required to be undertaken before reoccupying buildings and the steps to be taken, and as the “the new normal” begins, attention will turn to the careful management of capital and revenue spend.

We are working with some of our key clients to help them reacclimatise and prepare business focussed capital and revenue plans that suit their new needs. We would be delighted to discuss this, and any other related topics, with all our clients and any new contacts.

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