How To Manage Your Major Works

Darren Waitson, CEO and Founder of Nirvana Maintenance addresses ways in which you can manage Major Works.

Major Works. Are you recoiling at the thought?

It is the understated way to describe large builds that bring with them significant levels of risk, expenditure, disruption and snagging, as well as the opportunity for potential incidents and unexpected overruns.

Major works is a term that often has property managers and leaseholders running for the hills, but with careful planning and meticulous management, it does not have to be this way. Whatever the nature of such works, it makes sense to collaborate with a property maintenance partner who has the professional surveying skills, resources and capabilities to help you deliver works on site, on time and on budget, with minimal disruption to tenants.

What are Major Works?

This may have already been briefly touched upon, but if we are going to be discussing how to manage major works, we first have to decipher what exactly they are and what is considered to be a project of major works.

According to LEASE, major works are defined as “works of repair, maintenance or improvement to your building or any other premise” whether this be the exterior / structure of a building, or the common areas used by occupants of a block. However, whilst this definition does detail the nature of the projects, when explained in such a manner, it does not particularly indicate what sets them apart from general maintenance projects. The answer to this, is of course, in the name - major. They are works of a significantly larger scale.

To offer some clarity as to the type of job that would generally be classed as a project of major works, some examples include, but are not limited to; repairing, replacing or decorating of roofs, window frames, exterior brickwork, communal areas, soffits, facias, external guttering, downpipes and pathways.

Who is Responsible for Major Works?

The facilitation of any major works is a responsibility assigned to landlords, rather than leaseholders. The only exception to this statement is that a landlord must be fully compliant with Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and inform the leaseholder if a major works project will cost in excess of £250, as this is likely not covered within service charges and they may incur costs as a result. A landlord is required to notify the leaseholders through what is known as a ‘Section 20 Notice’.

Why Are They Required?

Major works are carried out for various reasons. Whether they are of a cosmetic nature (modernisation, refurbishment, expansion), for general upkeep, or for regulatory purposes needed to stay in-line with legislation; they are all required for one overriding reason - to ensure that a block / site is inhabitable for the tenants. A place where they feel safe and a community they are proud to call home.

As most property managers and leaseholders are aware, the proven best way to manage a block / site, is to keep up to date with and stay on top of any maintenance where required. When a building is neglected, this can not only diminish the value of a property itself, but can also cause disruption to residents and generate substantial costs when unplanned major works thus have to be carried out.

Planned Maintenance Programmes (PMP)

Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail.

A phrase we have all heard a few times before across various points in our lives. A phrase that also applies appropriately to property maintenance. Whilst we have to accept that some aspects of property maintenance are inevitably reactive, it is on very rare occasions that a project of major works should be as such. They should be preventative and in short, planned. This is why devising a Planned Maintenance Programme (PMP) is a fundamental step to managing your major works. These fully inclusive reports work in cohesion with general, ongoing maintenance and will in turn, prevent certain maintenance jobs from becoming major work projects.

When looking to devise a Planned Maintenance Programme (PMP) for your block and site, it is advisable to consult and collaborate with a Chartered Building Surveyor who is qualified to put one in place. Devising an effective PMP not only requires a great degree of foresight, which a landlord is best suited to provide, but also a technical knowledge of the works which need to be undertaken. Upon enlisting their services, they will conduct a full survey of your building that details the required works by order of urgency and enables you to prepare for the near future by highlighting any maintenance issues that are likely to arise.

Seek Professional & Legal Advice

Major works cannot be carried out alone.

One of the biggest oversights a landlord can make within this field is not enlisting advice from legal and industry professionals at times where their expertise can be of great significance. When cost is involved and landlords are tasked with staying on-budget, the seeking of professional and legal advice can often be cast to one side. Yet, if major works are not delivered to an acceptable and fully regulatory standard, then the cost to rectify such issues can far surpass the cost of soliciting advice. It pays to be informed.

Select The Right Contractor

Another high ranking oversight within the major works process is not appointing the right contractor and instead, being guided by cost to selecting the cheapest service. Now, what defines a contractor as the ‘right’ one is of course subject to the standards and requirements of each individual landlord, however, the cheapest service is rarely found to be the most meticulous and when there is the health and safety of residents at hand, it never makes sense to cut corners.

It is advisable to work with contractors or a building services supplier who you know well, have collaborated with on previous projects and are satisfied will deliver a service of high standard. When a level of trust has been previously established, you can feel confident and rest assured knowing that your major works are in the hands of professionals with a vested interest in your block / site.

If your regular collaborator is not particularly adept in the field of major works and thus, does not feel capable of taking on a job of such magnitude, then they are likely to have a recommendation of someone who is. Recommendations prove effective for many circumstances within the flat living sector and major works are no exception to this. Whilst it can be said that not every recommended contractor / supplier is suitable for every landlord, these recommendations at least provide a valid starting point.

If a company is found to be expensive, it is usually for a reason. That reason is likely reputability and in this sector, reputability is invaluable.


am Darren Waitson; CEO and Founder at Nirvana. We are a building services supplier offering both reactive and preventative maintenance within the flat living sector. Our services include fire defence, electrical, mechanical and general maintenance.


Reviewed: July 2019