Building technologies are dynamic and continually evolving to fill the ever-changing demands of modern society: from the building materials used, all the way down to innovative electronic and computerised systems that make up the functionality of all of the building’s operational elements.
These, coupled with the people occupying any building’s habits and practices, be it residential, commercial, recreational or industrial, constitute a challenge to architects and engineers designing them. Ultimately, building managers are responsible for their maintenance.
Beyond the normal management processes, there is also a mounting discussion for improved obligatory health, fire and safety rules and regulations applicable to private residential and commercial buildings, particularly those related to fire and safety. Many of these regulations are also linked to the insurance of a building and its occupants/stakeholders.
The current COVID-19 scenario has also placed further challenges for any building manager’s health risk preparedness.
The increased sophistication in building methods, unique materials, and intricate design methodologies make it very difficult for property owners, tenants and landlords to be informed about how all of the various building elements. Especially those related to the prevention of risk can be maintained and kept in optimum working condition.
“Residents, tenants and property developers are prepared to invest a lot in their properties, but most times are misguided as to which equipment to invest in and what preventive maintenance they should put in place to ensure that this equipment is in full working order.
What is happening now is that many people are finding out that their equipment is not compatible with their property, is difficult to service and almost impossible to fix or upgrade” explains Andrew Xuereb, Director of Realhouse Property Management Ltd.
“Managing properties involves making sure to meet standards. Procedures are understood by residents, landlords and property owners alike. Fire and safety procedures are amongst the most complex aspects of condominium and property management.”, adds Stephen Ganado, also a Director of Realhouse Property Management Ltd.
Modern-day standards insist on the definition and implementation of regular preventive, remedial and emergency maintenance level agreements. These outline the plan for the different maintenance aspects related to the respective equipment and building elements in a building. Moreover, from a fire and safety risk perspective, it is imperative to commission a Fire Risk Assessment report, clear Fire Evacuation procedures and plans, compilation and maintenance of a Fire logbook, appointment and training of Fire Wardens and regular performance of Fire Drills. Attention to standard and comprehensive Fire Detection and Suppression Systems is a must, as it is obligatory in some instances.
Another aspect that challenges any manager is efficient and practical methods for the separation and collection of domestic and commercial waste. Building plans do not often cater to sufficient facilities to allow the manager to introduce on-site collection and separation at source schemes. Space dedicated to the placement of separation waste receptacles and access to and from these spaces is minimal. More attention is being given to this aspect, including the proper ventilation of these waste designated areas.
The increased popularity of electric vehicles is also changing the way parking spaces are being allocated, with various charge points being organised for use by electric vehicles owners. Bicycle bays are also being made available, and all lighting converted to LED technology to reduce consumption. Natural ventilation and air changing ventilation systems are installed to reduce CO2 levels inside these spaces.
The importance is also given to mobility and accessibility, from simple access of delivery and service vehicles to accessibility for persons with disability achieved under the guidance of the KNPD (National Commission for Persons with Disability).
The regular maintenance and safety of lifts are essential for all occupants and visitors. This is considered one of the primary responsibilities of the building manager. In the lifts installed in a residential building, a preventive inspection needs to be carried out at least every year. In contrast, a thorough examination needs to be carried out at least every ten years. The maintenance of all CCTV and other security features including gates, barriers, shutters and security doors also fall under the building manager’s responsibility.