Should I pay a professional plan builder?
That depends. But let’s first agree on what we're talking about. Because a LTMP has two parts, the layout and the content.
If we exclude the cost of any technical reports from experts who charge for their time, such as building surveyors or architects, the preparation of your plan could easily cost nothing.
But if you appoint someone who is not a volunteer owner, to sit at a desk and research the options and write them up in a report, you can expect the cost to be relative to how many hours it will take and their qualifications.
For example, building surveyors might charge something like $240 per hour. An experienced property manager might charge half that but an architect could charge more.
It may not be the complete solution
You might think this is a worthwhile investment because after all, you can just sit back and the job is done. But there are some problems with this method and it might not be the complete solution you think it is.
You might only get a hardcopy document with the plan builder's opinion in regard to everything. You may not agree with these opinions. Then what? Depending on who prepared it, you might have some difficulty making changes. You should find out about this before you appoint anyone.
Many existing plan-building contractors opt out of giving advice on areas they have no expertise. This could be the lift, electrical systems, plumbing systems, fire protection systems, etc. So you still have to find out about those and include them. How do you do that if you have been given a hardcopy? Do you append them? How do you amend the funding tables in the hardcopy? You should find that out too.
The point is that while you might expect that you have solved your problem by paying someone else to prepare your plan, you could end up having to do a lot of work anyway. You might find that it would have been easier to do it yourself in the first place.
Many plans sitting in bottom drawers
There are countless body corporate LTMP's out there, sitting in a bottom drawer, because they are not exactly what the body corporate intended to do and they’re out of date after the first year anyway. What happens then, is maintenance planning reverts back to how it was done before the plan was commissioned. Decisions are made on the fly and the LTMP is ignored.
So why did you buy this thing again? And how much did you pay?
Use your current contractors
On the other hand most general contractors such as roofers and painters will give free quotes and advice if they believe that there is a reasonable chance they will get some work out of it. This is especially so with the body corporate’s current contractors. If you have a fire panel, or a lift, or controlled access doors, why don’t you just ask the contractor who services them for a report on the future maintenance requirements.
Then once you have all of that information you drop it in a spreadsheet and type up a work document listing everything that needs to be done.
Then you are in charge and can update it yourself at any time.
By way of disclosure, yes I operate a web application that allows anyone to build an LTMP, so yes I have an incentive to recommend DIY. But I'm also for hire as a plan builder so I'm really OK either way.
Just saying it as I see it.
Prepared by: John Bradley. July 2016