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Last edited 10 Dec 2020
Working with maintenance contractors
Maintenance is the process of ensuring that assets retain a good appearance and operate at optimum efficiency. Building maintenance can be carried out by outsourcing or by using in-house teams, but generally, maintenance operations use a mix-and-match of service delivery mechanisms.
Modern buildings are generally quite complicated and require a range of expertise to operate and maintain. They may involve complex electrical, IT, plumbing and mechanical equipment. It is therefore be to the benefit of everyone directly involved with a building’s use that decisions regarding maintenance are put in place as soon as possible.
- Lighting repairs.
- Pointing and plaster repairs.
- Landscaping and gardening.
- Building services and other equipment.
- Window and door repairs.
- Debris/rubbish removal and clearance.
- Jet washing with chemical cleaning agents to remove fungal stain or mould.
- Gutter clearance and repair.
- Facade and roof maintenance.
 Hiring a maintenance contractor
Fully qualified specialists may be difficult to justify as full-time staff members, which is one of the reasons some organisations opt to outsource maintenance work. Contractors can be hired for a single project or a series of tasks.
When employing contractors, it is important to ask the right questions of each candidate, including:
- How long have you been in business?
- What qualifications or other credentials do you have for this type of work?
- Do you have up to date insurance coverage for this type of work? If so, are copies of the coverage available?
- Have you completed similar projects? If so, can you provide a list, including dates and contact information for reference checks? (In terms of references, it’s important to check these thoroughly, either through telephone calls or in person meetings arranged on the referee’s site.)
- Which individuals will work on the contract?
- What is your availability?
It is also important to note any risks that may arise during the project. An assessment should expose any health and safety precautions that will need to be taken, or existing information about the works and these should be shared with potential maintenance contractors.
The interaction between the maintenance contractor and the building occupants is another consideration. Contractors may interact with the users of the building and the way in which this is done can have a positive or negative impact. Careful scheduling and oversight by an in house member of staff should be put in place to address issues before they occur or resolve concerns, should they be reported.
It is important to provide a written contract that with detailed information about the project. It should be clear and complete, including information about the parties involved, the location of the project, the extent of the project, the schedule for the project, the timescale, safety considerations and so on.
When the contract has been completed and obligations have been met, or pre-agreed stages have been delivered, payment should be made. A checklist can serve as a helpful tool when reviewing the completion of the project based on the conditions set out in the contract. This list should confirm several things, including:
- The work has been inspected and approved.
- The work satisfies the requirements and standards in the contract.
- Warranties and other information for work and materials are provided.
- Materials, tools, equipment and other excess waste from the project is removed and disposed of properly.
- Information is provided to allow drawings, models and other asset information to be updated.
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