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The importance of running a well-maintained building

By Alex Smale of The Knight – owners’ corporation (OC) managers

“Do we really need to pay to get the anchor points certified every year?” … “Do you want someone to fall off the roof?”

This kind of conversation is all too common at the annual general meetings of strata properties. All buildings have machinery and systems which owners need to pay to maintain. This machinery is often behind closed doors and not visible to residents. This is particularly true of larger buildings which will have complex fire systems, HVAC systems, large booster pumps for pumping water up many stories and more. While owners understandably want to find ways to cut costs, the consequences of not correctly maintaining this equipment can be enormous. This maintenance is so much more than items on the financial report, it guarantees the peaceful enjoyment of the building for residents as well as maintaining the safety and the security of your investment.

One example is back flow prevention valves which need to be tested. These valves prevent contaminants from getting back into the water supply. If the test is not carried out and the valve fails, it can cost several thousands of dollars to replace. More importantly, it can put others at significant risk by risking contaminants getting back into the water supply. For example, you leave a hose pipe in a pool, and the water main has a burst resulting in back siphonage, then the pool water can be sucked out of a pool and into the water supply. People have died from drinking water that has been contaminated in this manner.

HVAC systems that are not well maintained, or do not have adequate filters, can encourage the spread of viral diseases including measles and tuberculosis. HVAC systems also monitor levels of carbon monoxide in car parks. If there is a failure in the machinery, it can be deadly for residents.

Speaking of car parks, savvy owners will also be aware that sump pumps need to be serviced regularly or you risk a flood which will not only affect residents’ cars but may also threaten machinery within the car park. There have been instances where water has flooded lift wells causing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

OC managers, building managers and committees are tasked with an extremely important job of understanding the maintenance requirements of their buildings and ensuring this maintenance is carried out to prevent these potentially catastrophic consequences.

If you are an owner of a strata property, take an active interest in the maintenance of your building. If there is a maintenance item on the financial reports of your OC that you don’t understand, ask. Ensure you engage effective, qualified OC managers, building managers and contractors who can understand the maintenance requirements of your building. The consequences of not doing so could be deadly •

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