Construction World

Property owners should consider the use of a Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) “Minor Works Contract” to formalise often neglected maintenance of their property, says Uwe Putlitz, CEO of JBCC.

Property maintenance essential JBCCPutlitz says the contractual arrangements to maintain buildings and plant are quite different from those pertaining to a new building and/or alterations to buildings but could be covered by the JBCC Minor Works Contract.

“Depending on the purpose and size of the building, the owner may choose to establish an ‘in-house’ team to undertake some or all maintenance work. Maintenance of some items may have to be performed in terms of product guarantees with prescribed maintenance restricted to authorised service providers. Quotations for other work may be called for from specialist maintenance contractors whose work will usually be called for a fixed period – say, one to three years - and subject to a monthly retainer. Often a proviso is that the appointed contractor must be on standby in case of an emergency. There are substantial benefits in appointing such contractors utilising a JBCC Minor Works Agreement,” Putlitz suggests.

He says buildings - unlike modern cars – invariably do not have a ‘maintenance contract’ but the upkeep of facilities is important to prevent loss of production or worse consequences.

“When a lift is not working, toilets are blocked, or the lights in the office malfunction, an unhappy tenant/user may refuse to pay rent or renew a lease, and prospective tenants may choose another building. It is therefore essential for the property manager or owner to constantly monitor the condition of the building, its various services and surroundings. A management plan and budget to regularly maintain or service the facility should be put in place, preferably using a formal agreement such as the JBCC Minor Works Contract. Specified remedial action to maintain the property could then be carried out after hours and/or over weekends or during the ‘off’-season to minimise inconvenience to the users and hamper productivity.”

Putlitz believes ignoring maintenance of a property could also be hazardous. “Where the continued operation or the use of an element of the works become dangerous – or life threatening – this threat must immediately be remedied. Other symptoms of underlying problems, for example, bubbles in wall plaster work or exposed concrete, water and/or rust staining, fungal growth, and tile lifting also require urgent attention to prevent escalating maintenance expenses.

“In fact, the identification of defects during a maintenance inspection is the ideal opportunity to evaluate the status of the entire building to review its value as a property investment. It may be the right time to decide to sell the building before it loses its attraction to others; or whether to take steps to comply with changing consumer demands and compliance with energy use and/or health and safety regulations,” he adds.

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