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Maintaining maintenance and our sanity in the current climate

MBV (Master Builders Victoria) CEO Rebecca Casson said one of the biggest challenges still facing Victorian building and construction companies was escalating building product prices and supply shortages. 1/12/2021 Australia Faces Worst Material Shortage In More Than 40 Years | .

These past two years have been challenging indeed - on so many levels and in ways that have been impossible for anyone to anticipate and prepare for. And for rental property tenants and home owners these frustrations become even more prevalent when a small plumbing or building issue can’t be fixed for months on end. The increase in demand in the construction industry has lead to a shortage of labour and materials - not only in Australia, but throughout the world, and it is not over yet according to HIA Chief economist Tim Reardon who said “record low interest rates, coupled with home buyers’ desire for a bigger property during COVID-19, had created a rush for new home builds and renovations over the past two years”

“Builders will be at capacity throughout this year and well into 2023,” Mr Reardon said. “There’s still challenges with land, labour and materials [affecting the industry].”

This all, has an effect on the other trades too, - from plumbers, electricians, plasterers, glaziers, carpenters to fencing contractors and many more. They have all been affected by increased work loads, labour shortages, material shortages, and rising costs. This means that the average person needing a repair done inside or outside of their home, is struggling to find someone to do it within a reasonable timeframe, and at a reasonable cost. Trades are in demand and in short supply.

Like everyone, Owners Corporations, and therefore Owners Corporation Managers too are also struggling with:

  • Finding a contractor for household repairs and property maintenance who are available, willing and/or able to do the work
  • Timeliness of work - some contractors are only able to commence work months down the track
  • Materials being in short supply
  • Repairs and maintenance workforce being in short supply
  • Increasing prices on many materials
  • Increasing frustration levels

Common maintenance you may need for the management of your owners corporation includes:

  • Plumbing services
  • Fencing services
  • Electrical services
  • Roofing services
  • Floor services
  • Pest control
  • Cleaning services
  • Window cleaning
  • Urgent maintenance
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Pressure washing

This is an Australia-wide problem with labour and material shortages warnings even appearing on Government sites like the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and the Government of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WA.

So what can we do to ensure we are able to get, the property maintenance services we require in this current situation and maintain our sanity in the process? Particularly all as we try to continue business as usual (BAU)?

  • Be very proactive. For example, a dripping tap doesn’t stop dripping by itself, and sometimes it may have been dripping for a long time before it becomes a real problem or annoyance. So don’t wait until it becomes urgent, act asap when you become aware that something is not working the way it should. Report it to your rental agent straight away if you are a tenant, or if you are an owner occupier, start looking for a repairer immediately and book it in.
  • Be flexible. Think about letting your rental agent or tradie know that you are happy for them to come in to do the work at very short notice. Sometimes work at building sites has to stop due to rain or bad weather, and this means that trades (for example, plumbers and electricians) may then have the opportunity to do smaller indoor tasks at the last minute on those days. If you are readily available, you may get the work done quicker.
  • Consider all options. If you have a timber fence that needs replacing for example - perhaps consider a different material that is not in a current short supply to get it done quicker.
  • Be understanding. The situation is not easy for anyone. There is a lot of pressure for traders and builders as they navigate the stress of labour shortages, supply issues, and rising costs.
  • Be prepared. You may have to wait - and for owner occupiers - you may have to pay more than you would have 2 years ago.

As Strata Managers we have seen all this unfold, and we understand our clients’ frustration, as we too have experienced it on a business and personal level. The emotional effects of lack of property maintenance (what we want when we want it or need it!) and the frustrations of delayed work are not to be underestimated.

Our new BAU processes are unlikely to be long term though, as one thing we have all learnt in this current climate is to be ready for change as it can happen quickly. There are suggestions that change will take place in mid-2022 as the users of the Homebuilder grant complete their buildings and amid the possibility of interest rate rises in the coming years. These may cause the construction boom to slow, along with additional migration workforce becoming available as international borders reopen helping alleviate the labour shortages.

Our Ace Body Corporate Managers are here to help you navigate through this difficult time with all strata maintenance and repairs and can provide you with advice and guidance based on their experience. We are here to help you not just ensure your issues are resolved as soon as they can be but to also provide you with support during what we understand can be a very frustrating time for all involved.

Ace Body Corporate Management
Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice, and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients. However, we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.