Current Major Work
Periodic Redecoration 2020
Periodic repair and redecoration is due during 2020. Property owners decided at the 2014 AGM (PDF, 33kb) to delay this redecoration from 2019 until 2020 to reduce service charges slightly. Now the properties are over 30 years old, more maintenance is required and, in this cycle, flat roof inspection is needed while access is available following a number of leaks requiring repair and flat walls were inspected as recommended periodically following previous flat wall repairs. Repairs around corbels from the 2015 periodic redecoration were still intact when inspected, so the final part of the retention from 2015 has been paid to Polyteck.
The flats walls inspection was commissioned from Ellis & Moore in September 2019, which carried out previous structural surveys and specified previous wall repairs. The results were presented to the 2019 AGM and the structural report (large PDF, 14.2Mb) is now available with a username and password that owners can obtain on request from the Managing Agent. There were no issues with previous repairs and minor wall cracks thought to result from thermal expansion will be repaired in the periodic repair as before. More serious issues requiring monitoring and repair were discovered with two flat blocks, see separate section.
Surveyor Hallas & Co was appointed to supervise periodic external repair and redecoration as in previous cycles, since it is familiar with the Estate and particularly with the situation of the flat walls, with fee terms as previously. It invited five building contractors to tender using a specification (large PDF, 13.3Mb) and cost submission (Excel spreadsheet, 194kb) agreed with the Directors and received four tenders (available for inspection by appointment). Hallas & Co assessed the tenders in a tender report (PDF, 372kb). All these documents require a username and password given in the section 20 consultations that owners can also obtain on request from the Managing Agent. It was planned to carry out the external work starting in April 2020 but this is now very uncertain because of the current pandemic. Further information will be provided once the section 20 consultation finishes in light of Government guidance at the time.
Because the flat wall and roof inspections may result in repair work whose value cannot currently be estimated, external repair and redecoration is being carried out separately from the internal redecoration of flat common areas. This has several benefits. It will allow internal flats redecoration to be delayed if existing reserves collected from 2015-20 have to be used for external flat wall and roof repairs and further money needs to be collected through service charges to cover the cost of internal work. This should avoid what happened in the last two cycles where a contractor appointed to carry out all work left the easier internal work then had to rush this affecting the quality of the work. It may also allow smaller local firms to tender for the internal flats redecoration, potentially leading to lower costs, although they could not carry out the more extensive external work requiring high-level access. Timing of internal flats work will depend on the extent and cost exernal flats repairs and may be in autumn 2020 or may need to be deferred, which would be discussed at the 2020 AGM.
The section 20 consultations required by law are being carried out for the proposed work and owner responses will be considered. The section 20 part 1 notice (PDF, 170kb) was issued on 25 October 2019 with a deadline for response by 25 November 2019. One response was received, which did not affect the tender. The section 20 part 2 notice (PDF, 196kb) was issued on 4 March 2020 with a deadline for response by 6 April 2020. These documents also require a username and password (see above).
The work planned to flat blocks is:
Unfortunately, initial tenders were about three times the cost of similar work in 2010 and 2015 allowing for inflation, with general costs including staff welfare and scaffold and hoist costs for access greatly increaased. This is thought to result from the Government Living Wage, more stringent health & safety standards and market conditions. The Directors met the supervising surveyor and lowest tenderer to clarify the work and managed to cut costs including contingency, fees and VAT by about £36,000 for a start in April 2020. Other options are not considered viable. All available suitable contractors were asked to quote, including the one that did the work last time at lower cost, so it is unclear who else would tender or carry out the work more cheaply. With several flat roof leaks, paint peeling from wooden flat windows and parts of the wooden clock tower rotting, work cannot be delayed without damage and higher costs.
To achieve these costs, flat owners including landlords and residents will need to provide access to paint windows on the date advised. There will not be a choice of dates, nor re-visits.
This external flats work, which is paid for only by flat owners, requires all reserves collected between 2015-20 for both external and internal work and also some of the contingency reserve. Consequently, the Directors are considering options how to afford internal flats work without steep rises for flats service charges. Proposals will be put to owners at the 2020 AGM for agreement. These are likely to include not carrying out full internal re-decoration in this period, instead using the handyman contractor to make repairs only where essential in the maintenance period starting in 2020. The surveyor has also suggested extending the interval between internal redecoration to 7 years, keeping that for external repair and redecoration as 5 years.
The clock tower will be repaired where wood is rotting and decorated with graffiti-resistant paint. The portico will be inspected to see if any work is required but, after repair in 2015, it is hoped this will be minimal.
This work will be funded from the Estate reserve and contingency, to which both flat and house owners contribute. No work is paid for only by house owners. Initial tenders for these costs were also about three times those for similar work previously and have been reduced following clarification of the work. There will need to be an increase in charges to cover the additional costs.
Flat Block Repairs 2020
Owners of flats in the two blocks concerned, to whom the Managing Agent has written twice, can download documents referred to with a username and password given in the letters and available on request from the Managing Agent.
Following previous flat wall repairs, flat walls are inspected periodically as recommended then. The flats walls inspection was commissioned from Ellis & Moore in September 2019, which carried out previous structural surveys and specified previous wall repairs. The results from the structural report (large PDF, 14.2Mb) were presented to the 2019 AGM. There were no issues with previous repairs and minor wall cracks thought to result from thermal expansion will be repaired in the periodic repair as before. More serious issues requiring monitoring and repair were discovered with two flat blocks, 21-26 Abbey Drive and 31-45 Church Lane.
On advice from the structural engineer, the cost of remedial work for these more serious issues has been claimed on the Estate insurance. This is very likely to cause a significant increase in all insurance premiums on the Estate. The insurer appointed a loss adjuster which has, in turn, appointed other firms to investigate the causes and recommend what repairs and other action are required. The insurer is not using the Estate contractors, so they are not able to get involved in this work. The loss adjuster has accepted the claims for movement and related sewer damage likley to have been caused by the movement. The relevant loss adjuster letters are available for download by the owners of 21-26 Abbey Drive (PDF, 56kb) and 31-45 Church Lane (PDF, 50kb). The estimated timescale for future work provided by the loss adjuster is:
Some owners in these blocks have reported internal cracking. It is imperative that owners notify the Managing Agent of any internal damage before the decision dates above. Damage will be reported to the loss adjuster and it will be your responsibility to arrange access for inspection and repairs directly with the loss adjuster and its appointed contractors. If the flat is sub-let, you are also responsible for arranging this with your tenants and ensuring they provide access. If you fail to advise internal damage by the deadline or you or your tenants fail to provide access, you will need arrange and pay for any internal repairs yourself. The insurer is not using the Estate contractors, so they are not authorised nor able to get involved in this work.