Current Major Work
Periodic Work 2020
The full external work planned could not be carried out in 2020 because of the pandemic. The Directors considered the situation very carefully based on Government and industry guidance as restrictions were eased and concluded the work must be deferred for reasons explained below. Instead, we have ordered a much reduced amount of essential and important external work that can be carried out safely. The Directors will discuss options and proposals for remaining external work and internal work in the current financial situation with owners at the 2020 AGM (depending when and how that is permitted).
Surveyor Hallas & Co conducted a competitive tender for the reduced priority work in June 2020. This reduced work was covered by the Section 20 consultation carried out for the full work, so it was not necessary to repeat the consultation. Alfred Bagmall & Sons won this tender and plans to start work on 21st September 2020. It will be required to comply with a suitable method statement taking account of coronavirus Covid-19 for health and safety. Bagnalls does not require access to individual properties. It has provided an introduction letter (PDF, 210kb). In summary, the reduced priority external work covers:
Periodic repair and redecoration was due in 2020 after property owners decided at the 2014 AGM (PDF, 33kb) to delay this redecoration from 2019 to reduce service charges slightly. Now the properties are over 30 years old, more maintenance is required including to leaking roofs 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 was paid to Polyteck.
The flat 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 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 the separate section below.
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). 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 work had to be deferred to 2021 because of the pandemic. The contractor that provided the lowest tender quite properly suspended all but emergency work that could be carried out in line with Government restrictions.
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 increased. 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 reduce costs including contingency, fees and VAT by about £36,000 for a start in April 2020, although this was not possible because of the pandemic. It is not considered viable to reduce costs further. All suitable contractors known to the managing agent and surveyor were asked to quote, including the one that did the work last time at lower cost, so it is unclear who else could tender or carry out the work more cheaply. The section 20 consultations with leasehold flat owners required by law received no responses affecting the outcome.
As pandemic restrictions started to be eased, the Directors reviewed the situation very carefully and decided that the work could not proceed as planned in 2020. Instead, a reduced amount of essential and important external work will be carried out in 2020 and the situation will be reviewed with a view to completing the external work starting in spring 2021. The reasons this is necessary are:
Following the Directors' decision, Hallas & Co carried out a revised tender for the reduced priority work in June 2020. Contractors with highest costs in the original tender were omitted and two more local contractors were invited to participate. A much reduced specification (PDF, 179kb) and cost submission (Excel spreadsheet, 203kb) agreed with the Directors were used and two tenders were received. Many firms have not fully started work again after the pandemic lockdown and others are very busy. Hallas & Co assessed these tenders in a brief email report (PDF, 75kb). These documents require a username and password given in the section 20 consultations that owners can also obtain on request from the Managing Agent. Alfred Bagnall &Sons won the tender, the Directors ordered the work and the contractor plans to start work in early September 2020.
Internal flat communal area redecoration cannot now go ahead in 2020 for several reasons. Following delays because of the pandemic, there is no longer time for internal work in 2020 after the external work. It would not be possible to maintain social distancing from residents using the stairs and hallways. The unexpectedly high tendered costs of the external work would use all flats reserves collected for both external and internal work, together with a large part of the flats contingency reserves. Repair costs are very uncertain until roofs are inspected and the cost of repair work can be estimated and quoted or tendered, so these must be determined before committing more expenditure. This will also depend on the Management Company's financial position. There are potential benefits of delaying internal redecoration. Smaller local contractors which could not carry out the external work requiring high-level access may be able to tender for internal redecoration, potentially leading to lower costs. It would also avoid the problems in the last two periodic work cycles where the external work overran and the contractor also carrying out the internal work rushed it affecting the quality of work. The Directors will present options regarding the internal redecoration at the 2020 AGM so flat owners can offer guidance how they prefer to proceed based on the corresponding future charges.
The section 20 consultations required by law have been carried out for the proposed work. 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. The outcome was delayed because Rendall and Rittner's offices were closed because of the pandemic. Once mail was redirected, it was confirmed in late April 2020 that there were no responses. These documents also require a username and password (see above).
Priority essential and important work to flat blocks being carried out in 2020 is listed above. The work deferred because of the coronavirus pandemic and to save very large access costs includes:
To avoid even higher costs for external redecoration, when external redecoration is carried out, flat owners including landlords and residents will need to provide access to paint wooden flat windows on the date advised by the contractor. There will not be a choice of dates, nor re-visits by the contractor. Any closed wooden windows would be painted closed, leaving the edges and rebates unpainted and potentially making it more difficult to open the windows.
As explained above, the Directors will present options to the 2020 AGM so flat owners can offer guidance how they prefer to proceed based on the corresponding future charges. This will include options for doing without flats communal area internal redecoration this maintenance cycle, just carrying out local repair work where essential, or deferring the work to 2021 or 2022. This will include the correseponding effects on charges in future years, so far as they can be determined when the external repair costs may still be very uncertain and may not have been determined (see above). The options will include one suggested by the surveyor to extend the interval between internal redecoration to 7 years, keeping that for external repair and redecoration as 5 years.
Work to flat blocks is funded from flats reserves and contingency, to which only leasehold flat owners contribute. House owners do not pay towards this work.
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. Together with the very poor record of water leaks, this caused a huge increase in all insurance premiums on the Estate, which more than doubled. 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 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 work originally provided by the loss adjuster and progress is set out below. Work was delayed because of the pandemic.
Some owners in these blocks have reported internal cracking. It was imperative that owners notify the Managing Agent of any internal damage before the decision dates above. It is 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 failed 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.