One of the council's roles is to ensure that the Strata company's duties are carried out, including its maintenance obligations in relation to the common property. The Act states that the strata company must repair, maintain, renew, and replace the common property.
The introduction of the 10-year maintenance plan is a great tool in assisting the strata council in determining the priority of items required.
Examples of the maintenance strata council are responsible for might be:
Monitoring day to day maintenance such as gardening or cleaning
Organising periodical maintenance - think gutter cleaning and pest control
Supervise and check over any non-routine repairs such as plumbing or building repairs and subsequently provide instructions to pay an invoice
Arrange quotes for specified or detailed maintenance works where necessary
Manage large project works such as re-painting the building or major roof works
Undertake regular inspections of the common property to assess what is required. This is often done before an AGM.
Maintenance and repairs of your strata-titled property, in most cases, takes up a large portion of your budget and the levies you pay. Council members have a responsibility to the owners to ensure that anyone they engage is the best value (price/product/professional). Council members may not be experienced in this area and are volunteers working on behalf of the strata community. Below are some tips to assist the strata council in engaging the right contractor and how to go about the procurement process:
Scope of works
Understand what is required and formalise a scope of works.
If the project is significant, an independent building consultant may need to be engaged to formalise the scope of works and advise on the best course of action. Alternatively, your 10-year plan can be a great starting place. Having a formalised scope of works will ensure you are getting apples for apples and consistent quotes and prices.
Qualification and experience
Before requesting a site visit to prepare the quote, it is important to ensure that the contractor has appropriate insurances such as workers' compensation and public liability. Depending on the type of work, an industry license may be required.
Quotes may seem comparable, however, ask what guarantees or warranties are provided – this gives added peace of mind and may just set one contractor apart from another.
It may be worth considering a full-service company for complex maintenance issues or projects that cross different trades. For example, a water ingress issue may require a specialised leak detection service, plumber, plasterer and painter. Selecting one company to handle the project may be beneficial. A reputable company will have a network of tradespeople they rely on.
Don't forget they should have experience in dealing with strata-titled properties.
We would always recommend that a council member meets with the contractor on-site to explain the scope. A walk around the property and discussion with the contractor allows any queries to be answered on the spot and clarify any misunderstandings.
Simple works can often be agreed upon via email or phone conversation between Council members. When more complex projects are being considered, a Council meeting should be called. This is where a collective decision can be made based on what is best for the scheme – is it most important to source the lowest quote, the quickest turnaround for works, or the best workmanship? A set of minutes should always confirm the decisions reached and note any conflicts of interest. It is always best practice for your Strata Manager to provide feedback to unsuccessful contractors.
Following a proper process of planning, reviewing and selecting the right contractor for the job can help keep Council members on the right path to making the right decisions for their property.