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If a problem arises within the development, please raise the issue with your on-site FirstPort member of staff as soon as possible. They will then look into this in an organised and efficient manner, giving priority to emergency and urgent situations. If you don't have an on-site FirstPort member of staff at your development, please contact our Customer Services team.
The maintenance and repair of a building’s lift is one of the most important tasks we undertake, particularly on our retirement developments. We are responsible for over 2,500 lifts across the UK. In our drive to improve our service standards and deliver value for money, our procurement team, together with a specialist lift consultant (ILECS), selected three lift maintenance suppliers in March 2014 following a comprehensive tendering process.
Contracts were awarded to:
The lift contracts are fully comprehensive and include parts and four service visits per year for lifts and a twice year service for stairlifts in retirement developments.
Other lift contractors may be used – for example new build developments can have a maintenance contract with a lift company chosen by the developer. In general these contracts typically are for three to five years, and are thereafter reviewed against our central contracts to deliver the best value for money.
How we manage lift outages on our retirement developments?
If a major lift component fails in a retirement development, such as a drive motor, a replacement is sourced and installed as quickly as possible.
The welfare and wellbeing of our residents is always our most important concern. The onsite Development Manager will keep residents fully informed throughout a lift outage and help those residents who rely heavily on the lift with shopping and day-to-day tasks.
Communal cleaning is carried out by contracted cleaners. The cleaners will be dedicated to your communal areas and will clean regularly to all communal corridors, stairwells and window sills. If you have any queries in relation to the cleaning within your development, please do not hesitate to contact us.
‘Major works’ is the term we use to describe large-scale or substantial building projects that are carried out to keep your development looking good and working correctly. This work is carried out as part of an ongoing maintenance programme. These projects are planned in advance and include things like:
-Maintaining the main structure of the building. For example, looking after the roof and external walls.
-Maintaining and upgrading items within the building. For example, replacing lifts and upgrading fire alarms.
-Maintaining the decoration of the building. For example, painting the communal areas and protecting the outside of the building.
-Maintaining the building’s systems. For example, maintaining the lifts and upgrading old communal heating systems.Find out more
Maintaining door entry systems, as well as internal and external doors, is covered within your Service charge. Door entry systems will be covered by an annual contract and they will be maintained to a high standard. All other doors are checked regularly to ensure they are working correctly.
Emergency lighting is covered by an annual contract and will be serviced regularly to ensure you are safe at all times. Internal and external lights will be checked and maintained on an adhoc basis and will be actioned as a priority if needed. If you notice a light bulb is not working properly please inform your onsite FirstPort staff member and we will ensure the cleaners are aware to change on their next visit.
As managing agents for freeholders (landlords), our role is normally to manage and maintain the building structure and the common areas / facilities within your development, on their behalf. This excludes anything within the four walls of your own individual property, which is instead your own responsibility, or that of the actual owner if you rent it.
The costs of the communal insurance (if applicable), maintenance and repairs that we undertake are recoverable through Service charges (sometimes referred to as ‘variable rent charges’ if you own a freehold property) and these are billed by us to the property owners within the developments we manage. We may also sometimes be asked by the landlord to carry out other chargeable tasks, such as collecting Ground rent for them or perhaps managing approvals and consents on their behalf where those are formally required – such as for alterations to the property or for keeping pets.
Do you receive commissions from contractors?
We don't charge any other fees whatsoever for arranging contractors. We have a procurement function whose role it is to source the best value contracts for customers through bulk tendering, but the cost of this function is included in our management fee. We believe this is unique in the industry.
If we do receive a commission on anything, we are transparent and declare it, in keeping with our codes of practice. For instance, sometimes we place insurance on behalf of the freeholder. When they do, FirstPort Insurance Services Limited takes a commission on arranging the insurance. This is something that is completely normal in the insurance industry. You can find information on any commission payments in the notes on your annual accounts.
We also have an open and transparent process for awarding contracts. When a formal tender process is necessary we invite at least three independent contractors (the only exceptions to this are out of hours monitoring and some fire systems and alarm installation works, where a FirstPort connected business may be invited to tender). Information about whether a FirstPort connected business has provided services at your development and earned a fee, is disclosed in the annual service charge accounts.
Why do FirstPort use in-house Building Surveyors?
Your Property Manager will know your building well, and have lots of general knowledge in matters such as health & safety and finance. Major works, such as large internal redecorations or external refurbishment works can often require more specialist input from a Building Surveyor.
With a greater technical understanding of buildings, a surveyor will help plan complex works and repairs and run major works projects that require skilled expertise. They also play an important role in managing the quality control and contractor performance during projects.
FirstPort has a team of in-house Building Surveyors as we believe that working closely with Property Manager colleagues ensures that the project communication and management process is made more efficient, we are able to save customers cost and inconvenience by intervening early with more complex problems, plus they are able to coach the Property Manager along the way in an activity that is not their core skill. We believe this efficiency is reflected in our competitive rates.
We have a team capable of covering around one-third of the work demanded by the properties that we manage. We use external surveyors for the remaining projects, which means that we can cope with peaks and troughs in workload, but also benchmark our skills and rates.
What projects do FirstPort Surveyors work on?
Our in-house team of Building Surveyors work on a project or works that are considered outside the normal repair and maintenance of the property. The majority of projects that will involve the appointment of a surveyor will be large internal or external redecoration projects or internal or external refurbishment works. Sometimes they will be involved in more specialist work such as a roof repair or lift replacement. They can also help to carry out diagnosis on defects or complex building issues such as leaks.
FirstPort Surveyors will also prepare specifications and tender documents to support the tender process for any major works.
When requested, our Building Surveyors will help determine the long term maintenance needs of a building, by creating or updating an Asset Management Plan (this is a tactical plan which sets out how the key elements of the building will be managed over a period of time). They also cook at Life Cycle Costing (determining the cost of major building items over a long term period – often 20 or 30 years) and Conditions Surveys (to help determine the current state of repair of part or whole of a building).
Aren’t surveying costs covered by the management fee?
Not normally no. The Management Agreement sets out the duties that we carry out for the agreed Management Fee. This annual fee covers the work required for the normal maintenance of the property on an annual basis.
Major works, such as large internal redecorations or external refurbishment works are considered extra-ordinary work as they happen infrequently and not in every service charge year. Also running a major works project is very specialist and requires qualified personnel – normally that of a qualified Building Surveyor. Whilst our Property Managers will know your building well, and have lots of general knowledge, the role does not require them to be a qualified surveyor. This is standard practice across the industry.