Choosing the right building services supplier

Darren Waitson, CEO and Founder at Nirvana Maintenance why you should appoint a building services supplier and how to choose the right one.

As a property manager, you have a lot on your hands.

You are entrusted by a leaseholder to maintain a block to the highest possible standard and that is no easy task. So, what do you do when you have contractors letting you down last minute, or you are only finding out about minor issues when they become major works? It may be time to look at appointing a building services supplier.

If you have got to the stage of considering this option, then you likely have a fair few questions on your mind. However, if you are still in two minds about whether or not a building services supplier is what you need, then it first may be worth taking note of what they actually do and what they can offer to make your life that little bit easier.

What is a Building Services Supplier?

Let’s start off with the basics, what is a building services supplier?

Well, the meaning of this title is rather blurred. It differs depending on who you consult and has become somewhat of an umbrella term for a range of definitions. When it is broken down and defined simply though, it is a company which supplies a range of services for the upkeep of buildings. All services are centred around ensuring a building is safe and well maintained for the tenants or residents.

Contractors vs Building Services Supplier

These titles are often interchangeable, but their definitions are slightly different. Fundamentally, contractors are usually appointed by, or employed under, a building services supplier.

If you are a property manager who is considering appointing a building services supplier, then you will have likely adopted one of two approaches to your maintenance at current: you will either be using the services of individual contractors (most likely on a freelance basis), or you could be using a contracting company (that you may or may not be under contract with). Both of whom will specialise in a certain area of property maintenance and will only make contact to when you require such services.

Building services suppliers on the other hand, provide a wide range of services. They act as a sole point of contact for property managers and this eliminates the need for several, specialist contractors. Multiple suppliers mean overlaps or gaps in work and with lives at risk, it’s not worth taking any risks. A reliable and thorough service must always be provided. With a building services supplier, you only have one company to hold accountable.

What Services Do They Offer?

It is important to clarify that each building services supplier is different.

Whilst there are of course certain services you find will come as a standard, many suppliers have specialisms and this means that what they offer is likely to differ according to those. This is why it is strongly advisable to establish your expectations first and consider exactly what it is you are looking for from your supplier, before you appoint them. It may seem practical to simply appoint off recommendation from other property managers or leaseholders, but just as suppliers are different, so are blocks and what is suitable for one building, may not work for another.

Common services that are however provided by such suppliers include general maintenance works (both reactive and preventative), mechanical and electrical services and fire defence. Other more specialised services can range from asbestos checks / removal, to air conditioning and even safety signage.

How Can They Help Me?

You are only as good as your contractor in many cases, which is why the relationship you establish with your building services supplier is likely to be one of your most valuable.

Communication, or lack thereof it, is by far one of the biggest downfalls within this industry. Whether this be the communication between tenants / residents and their management companies, or management companies with contractors, it is a subject of which we can all agree needs to be addressed, so how can bringing a building services supplier into your team improve your communication for the better?

The answer is simple and has already been touched upon, they are a single point of contact and this is what makes them unique. When communication between property manager and contractor is challenged, the risk of delivering a poor level of service for leaseholders is high and this then piles on the pressure for them to perform.

Additionally, the appointment of building services suppliers can in turn, improve communication between property managers and their tenants. If residents feel a sense of confidence in their managing agents and can see that issues are being resolved efficiently and effectively, then they are more likely to report those issues earlier and this could prevent them from becoming potential major works in the near future.

How Do I Know They Are Right For Me & Are They Worth the Money?

When it comes to deciding whether or not you feel a building services supplier is the one for you, it can be hard to define. In large part, it is simply down to personal perspective and as already discussed, your expectations and requirements of said supplier.

One factor which is always important to consider though, is how much you value your time. The time you can save by having a single point of contact, rather than multiple, can ensure you keep the health and safety of your residents at the forefront of your priorities.

Money is another factor to consider. Whilst there is a chance that you may be able to enlist the service of an individual contractor at a cheaper rate, you have to ask yourself one all important question - when the livelihood of residents is at hand, is it worth trying to secure the best price over their safety? Sometimes, the reassurance of knowing that you can rely on a single company to provide each maintenance service you require, is worth more than a few extra pounds and without the last minute / emergency call out charges to contend with, you may end up saving yourself money in the long run.

With all that said though, it is vital not to lose sight of what is at the heart of it all. Leaseholders, property managers and building services suppliers are all working towards a common end goal - maintaining a safe and habitable living space for residents and that, is priceless. When you choose a supplier whose ethics and values align with yours, a successful partnership is sure to be formed.

 

I 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