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Remediation and maintenance tips for Strata Managers

Regardless of whether we are talking about a large high-density residential block, a commercial tower or a warehouse, exposure to the elements, poor construction and general wear can all play contributing parts to structural and aesthetic issues with your building. The thing is, whilst a fresh coat of paint can give your structure an instant makeover, it doesn't address underlying issues which may need more prominent consideration. Indeed, the simple act of covering over problems can prompt larger, more complex issues which wind up costing more to fix.
Knowing what is important to fix, what is an aesthetic issue only and what will cause ongoing issues is something that not everyone is skilled in. Painters and renderers may tell you that they can fix a problem with staining and loose concrete, but the thing is, if they do not know why, and thus remedy the cause of the issue, then the issue will come back, worse than ever. This was covered nicely in a recent blog Jeff wrote in January about the differences between handymen, builders and remediation specialists.
 
By comparison, Remediation Specialists seek to assist with assessment that uncovers the root cause, the affected areas which you may not be able to see (called latent issues) and those which you can.
Structural and fa├žade engineers, or licenced building rectification companies such as us, have the skills to advise you. Whilst it may cost you slightly more in the short term if there is no issue, if there are, then the benefits and savings to you will greatly outweigh the cost of consultation.

The above-mentioned experts can assist with problem identification, redesign of your fa├žade, consultation on new structural elements such as windows, balustrades or cladding or with the reasons for water leaks which are causing havoc.
 

Effective Strata Management

In today’s ever evolving world, strata management is becoming harder than ever. Not only are there countless laws to stay abreast of, but there is the need to be seen as more efficient, more knowledgeable and better than everyone else. As such, we know you need to have an entire suite of skills, including diplomacy, time-management, technical knowledge and good communication skills with key stakeholders. And that is not to say anything about your skills as fastidious record keepers and inspectors, who just happen to have the capacity to oversee finances.
We recognise your struggles are real and wanted to take the opportunity to look at some key maintenance considerations which strata managers need to be across, and which are also important for property owners in their day-to-day strata building maintenance.
 

1.Maintenance of waste water pipes

Regardless of whether they convey water or waste, pipes are meant to flow, not be blocked. Thing is, despite the best mitigation plans, pipes become blocked, cracked and otherwise damaged. Where pipes crack – especially those underground – it might seem to be a genuinely straightforward task to find the issue and remedy it, but the damage above and beyond the obvious can lead to negative effect on the foundations.
As water leaks out, the ground around the leak can erode away, swell (in the case of concrete cancer) or shift. Any of these issues can then cause ongoing affect on the structure itself in the form of erosion or slipping of the footings of the building.
 

2.Concrete spalling

Concrete spalling as we have touched on many times, can have wide ranging consequences and can affect a wide variety of structures including concrete framed structures, multi-story buildings and car parks, wharfs, tanks and anything else formed by concrete.
As the concrete swells and expands it loses structural integrity, thus causing issues which span health and safety, aesthetic charm and asset value.
 

2.b) Repairing concrete spalling

Concrete repairs should be carried out in accordance with the relevant guidelines (which are actually set out at Acrosoc). This is where the use of painters, handymen and other unqualified trades can have ongoing negative effect on your building. These trades have their place, but their ability to not only identify, but to specify the correct solutions are not as strong as others such as structural engineers, Building rectification specialists and other professional services.
Not only are they not qualified, but truth is, they cannot necessarily attain the correct insurances to protect the work they do, meaning if it occurs again you are not covered and the body Corporate will have to bear the cost of repair themselves. As a strata manager, if the decision to user a general trade to patch up the work was yours, then the ramifications of getting it wrong could be detrimental to your job. We know this sounds a little over the top, but our experience with incidents such as these pays truth the statement.
 

3.Functional slip resistant flooring

 
There is a heightened risk and danger of slips, falls, trips and skids when a flooring material is inappropriate for the area, is damaged, in poor state, lopsided or has falls which are inadequate to drain correctly. When these floors are in areas such as carparks, entrance walkways or other high traffic areas, the potential issues which can arise are significant. For example, tiles which look great and are designed for indoor areas are not good for covered walkways where people who track in water from the rain.
The risks for occupants and site visitors need to be mitigated, and as a strata manager the decision needs to be made regarding what action to take. Picking the correct floor covering for the application, keeping it well maintained and eliminating any hazards will diminish the probability of accidents.
 

4.Roofing safety

 
Aside from checking the floors, wall, and plumbing systems of a building, strata managers should keep in mind the areas they cannot see as easily – such as pitched roofs, flat roofs guttering.
For instance, in autumn, the abundance of leaves has the potential to clog guttering, downpipes and drains on flat rooftops. Aside from the issues which water can cause as it rises and gets into where it shouldn’t, the weight of water and blocked leaves in gutters can cause potential leaks, sagging, and over time cause cracks where the gutters are attached. This then exacerbates the issues and causes a new raft of issues.

On flat roofs, leakages and faulty waterproofing can have significant effect, as unlike pitched roofs where the water flows off the roof, on a flat roof the water has the chance to sit and continue leaking. IT can then track along the slab dozens of meters causing issues which cannot be seen, but which are significant on their own.
 
Correcting the issues are important, but again, as with concrete repair, it is essential you use specialists who are qualified to recognise the issue, specify a work plan which will fix it and then apply the fixes. Furthermore, because falls from rooftops form 34% of all workplace deaths, you need to ensure the company remedying the faults has the right insurances in place.
 

5.Preventative maintenance of structures

 
Preventive maintenance is a systematic approach to building operations that aims to identify and correct equipment and building failures before they actually happen. Unlike reactive maintenance, which occurs when equipment has already broken down, preventive maintenance is a more proactive approach to keeping assets in optimal working order.
 
Whilst we know that your job as a strata manager is already busy, truth is, if you are on top of your buildings and can identify issues before they become problematic, then your tenants will be happier. Developing a plan or seeking to have periodic (say yearly) checkups by a third party can go a long way to minimising issues – especially in older buildings.
 
These procedures help facilities team stay on top of maintenance and deliver the right type of repairs BEFORE they are needed. Issues that are detected early can be fixed faster, which may extend the overall useful life of existing systems and building elements within a building.
 
 

Conclusion

 
To be effective in your function as a professional strata manager, you need to take note of many things, but we hope this brief checklist helps.
We know you cannot know everything however, so if you ever need help for a suspected issue, or a known one, let’s have a chat, we’re confident we can help you.
 

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