Award winning chartered building surveyors

At Harris Associates we have developed our services to the Private Rented Sector over many years.  Working directly for private Landlords and whether a portfolio is several tens of thousands of units or just a couple of small investments, we have provided the fullest range of professional services, project management, maintenance programming and contract related advice for over a decade.  More recently, and with the growth of the Build To Rent sector both in terms of its attractiveness as an asset class and the realisation that Build To Rent looks set to grow exponentially over the next 10 years and beyond, Harris Associates has taken some of its core services and developed new bespoke services that better suit the Build To Rent client.

We are able to use our skills as professional building surveyors in such a way that we can marry the demands of the clients, the tenants and the buildings in which they live and / or are invested.  Our skills enable us to be embedded in the management process from scheme design inception stage right through to the management of cyclical repairs and maintenance of the finished asset.  As with our more traditional services we never adopt a one size fits all approach and our B2R services are very much honed to suit the client and the development in question.

Pre-Construction Services

Our pre-construction services usually comprise the following:

  • Attendance at pre-design / design stage meetings
  • Liaison with developer team & preferred asset manager
  • Direct input on design proposals where impact on occupation & maintenance likely
  • Advice in connection with planned future maintenance & expenditure
  • Identify areas where improvements can be made that will enhance the effective management of the development post construction
  • Drafting & agreement of maintenance protocols
  • Jointly with asset manager produce the initial mid / long term maintenance plan

Not all of the above services are necessarily provided for each client / development.  Much depends upon the embedded expertise of the developer and asset management team.  What we often find is that we team up with the asset manager and jointly we are able to assess the future maintenance and expenditure requirements of the development, and from there we produce the initial draft planned maintenance plan and expenditure profile.

Construction Phase Services

Our construction phase services can often mirror what we provide during the pre-construction phase with the only difference being that we are engaged later.  Additionally we are often tasked with the following:

  • Carrying out third party checks on quality and design
  • Cross checking any design changes that may impact the asset management of the development
  • Development of the mid / long term plan as development is constructed
  • Development of the protocols where necessary due to construction / design changes

Handover & Transition Services

Some of our clients consider this phase of any development as the most important as it is during this stage [the transition from development to occupation and asset management] that the focus can dip.  The development and construction teams will understandably be focussed on completion and it is therefore inherently vital that the asset management team including Harris Associates are on top of their game.

The handover and transition services broadly include the following:

  • Full liaison with developer / construction team ahead of practical completion
  • Receipt, checking & collation of all handover information including contractual parties contact details, warranties, guarantees, O&M information & as-built drawings
  • Cross checking that all statutory approvals are in place
  • Oversee completion of systems training and finalisation of manuals / guidance and maintenance procedures / protocols including scaffold / access requirements, planned maintenance frequency, refuse management, means of escape, emergency procedures etc
  • Finalising of the planned maintenance plan and expenditure forecast
  • Preparation of Tenant User Guide

Maintenance & Management Services

Once the development is complete and the scheme or building occupied the advantages of all of the pre-occupation work will be realised.  Having a structure and a team in place that is familiar with the services, systems and fabric reaps dividends for tenants, visitors and landlords.  Depending upon the type and nature of the development and the services installations the planned maintenance of the buildings should be capable of being achieved within carefully agreed parameters.

The important difference between a Build To Rent scheme and a more traditional Landlord / Leaseholder and multi ownership development is that the Tenant does not have any responsibility to maintain the building or contribute to the cost of doing so, as opposed to the Landlord and Leaseholder who do.  Furthermore the impact of major maintenance works, renewals, upgrades, and so on will be perceptively starker as the paying Tenant will only experience the disruption and inconvenience without the benefits.

The owner of the development and the asset management / service delivery teams therefore need to plan very carefully how such disruptive but necessary works are planned and executed.  Get it wrong and the reputation of the development reduces and voids start to creep up, hitting cash flow and rental income.

At Harris Associates we approach the management of maintenance works for Build To Rent schemes in the same way that we might roll out works for a hotel.  The main factors in assuring success are as follows:

  • Put in place dynamic & effective service agreement contracts
  • Adopt an effective inspection and testing regime
  • Identify key maintenance milestones
  • Maintain the core Tenant services at all times
  • Agree the Plan, Stick to the Plan & Communicate the Plan
  • Notwithstanding the above be prepared to be flexible – Controlled change is acceptable; unplanned change is not

Finally, in the context of management and maintenance it is imperative that all service providers buy in to the fact that Tenants are the customers and need to be treated as such.  From front of house to the team that deals with refuse, the onus must be on making the experience of living at the property a positive one and one where the Tenant feels central to all parties’ efforts and attention.