Who is qualified to build a plan?
There has been a suggestion made recently that a registered building surveyor is the only person who is appropriately qualified to build a body corporate long-term maintenance plan (LTMP).
This statement deserves a response because aside from the obvious high costs such a requirement would impose on the sector, a building surveyor’s core skills may not be a very good match at all.
Naturally a building surveyor’s technical skills and knowledge relating to building elements such as the weathertightness of wall and roof claddings are not in dispute. It’s just that a LTMP is not only about claddings. It must also cover everything else in the development that needs to be maintained from the gardens to the plumbing and the lift.
Then there are the features in a LTMP that relate to financial modeling and cash flow forecasting. It is essential these are included but require skills more likely to be associated with an accountant.
There's also compliance with the legislation
There are also the requirements of the Unit Titles Act 2010. Especially in regard to those items that should be recorded in a body corporate’s plan, such as whether the body corporate has opted out of having a long-term maintenance fund and whether they have elected to not maintain some items.
Also, it's wrong to schedule work to be paid for out of the long-term maintenance fund, when the work will be paid for by each owner of each unit on which the work is going to be carried out. And vice versa.
Some of the provisions in the legislation are only appreciated by those people who fully understand body corporate governance
Let's not be over influenced by leaky buildings
There is no argument that the wall and roof claddings are the most critical building elements and any half decent LTMP will cover these items well. But we need to careful that we are not over influenced by the leaky building problems plaguing the sector because while we all appreciate the difficulties faced by those who own a unit in a leaky building, these specific problems have little to do with LTMP’s.
A building that leaks is a whole different issue and should be dealt with under a separate programme and process, that will no doubt include input from building surveyors.
Let's not make the LTMP sound daunting
What is of utmost importance is that the body corporate does have a decent LTMP, that is actually used by the body corporate and that it helps owners appreciate that cash needs to be put away now for maintenance in the future.
By even suggesting a high level of technical skills is required, introduces a risk that the LTMP begins to sound like something technically challenging and therefore out of the reach of every body corporate and might even be beyond the understanding of lay people.
Of course that’s rubbish and if you’ve got an LTMP that your owners don’t understand, regardless of how awesome it looks and how much it cost, it’s worthless.
A LTMP should be and most certainly can be, a simple and accurate document that all owners understand and embrace. If the person who creates it happens to be a building surveyor, or an architect, or a project manager, that’s fine. But it could equally be anyone else who understands what is required and has the skills to put it together.
Updated by: John Bradley. February 2019