30 degree sunshine to torrential rain in the space of a week, are we really prepared for Britain’s Barmy Weather?
If like most of us you were basking in the glorious sunshine earlier this week, you probably weren’t anticipating waking up today to leaks, floods, tenant issues, stress and an all-round nightmare. Most of us were not prepared for the sheer volume of rain yesterday evening.
Whilst watching the storms and ogling at the flashes of lightning (or hiding under the bed sheets) may have been entertaining for some. However the FM’s amongst us would no doubt have been holding their breath and praying to the thunder lords that the morning would not bring chaos and destruction.
For many of us though, that’s exactly what we woke to this morning. Dealing with the aftermath of flood damage, roof leaks, blocked drains, gutters or gullies is time consuming and costly. Before you know it, the day has passed and everything that needed to be done, hasn’t been! Such is the nature of the reactive side of FM, versatility is the name of the game, and changing your plans, reacting quickly to events, including severe weather related damage is par for the course.
It will probably not come as much of a surprise to learn that the extremes of weather, due to climate change, are occurring more regularly and having a significant impact on our buildings. As a result, the costs of keeping them running and open for business have risen dramatically over the last decade.
In 2007, when much of the UK was subject to flooding, the cost of repair to buildings was estimated to have been around £2 billion; almost £800 million of that attributed to commercial properties affecting approximately 7,000 commercial buildings. A further cost to consider is the impact on business, adding a further £160 – £200 million*.
Since 2007, rainfall has increased significantly, with seven of the wettest years on record being in the last ten. In fact, 2015 was the second wettest year on record. Turning the attention to temperature, eight out of ten of the hottest years have occurred since 2002**. Not surprising then that our buildings – residential and commercial alike – are feeling the strain!
Whilst we can’t stop the rain, we can minimise the damage and disruption to our property.
Picture the scenario: the rain starts to fall and it just keeps coming, day after day. A property manager with a large portfolio of buildings located across the UK, is desperately and frantically ringing around, trying to find contractors to patch up the holes where the leaks are springing across multiple properties. Inevitably, the phone rings off the hook, time and again. To add to the chaos, the building manager is unlikely to be able to respond to the myriad calls and (frantic) messages from tenants.
For many, at this stage, it’s about survival – corners are sometimes cut in order to ensure a job is being attended. As a result, compliance and financial impact can fail to be properly addressed as you battle to get jobs underway. A contractor that can attend, and says they can do the job, sounds just what you have been hoping for – especially when you have tenants screaming at you. Quibbling about call out charges at that point does not even register. Iin the majority of cases cost is secondary to ensuring that the asset is protected and maintained whilst ensuring the tenant is placated and left satisfied.
The fact is that if you send a contractor to site, that doesn’t have the correct insurances, accreditations and can’t provide the necessary RAMS and Health & safety documentation, you and your business are at risk should anything happen on site. That’s before you are billed for minimum call out charges of two- four hours!
Now, imagine an alternative scenario. A solution that means you can call just one number, to organise a pre-qualified and actively managed contractor to attend. One where you can keep up to date with ongoing jobs in real time, wherever you are, at any time. One with compliance and RAMS attached to each job, minimising your risk. One that automatically tells you that a contractor has been dispatched, their ETA and when jobs have been completed. One where you are still very much in control of your day and can minimise the disruption caused to your tenants by inclement weather or indeed any fabric related problem like broken windows, blocked toilets or guttering issues together with other unforeseen circumstances.
That capability exists, 24/7 across the UK for any building fabric eventuality; coping with the affects that extreme weather conditions are having on our properties.
It is vital for property managers to build a comprehensive picture around where future funds will need to be directed in any planned maintenance schedules. Managing reactive works properly, with a complete audit trail enables data to be collated and used intelligently helping overcome underlying issues with the building fabric – specifically relating to the impacts of adverse weather.
Some might say being so well prepared may take away all the fun of the reactive property maintenance roller coaster. They could even look back with rose tinted spectacles on those frantic times with a wry smile and a quiet sigh of relief that they weren’t ‘caught out’. As we move towards autumn and winter, and no doubt a new deluge of subsequent issues, I would ask whether any property manager really wants to relive those experiences again?