Block Management is the term given to describe the agents who act for the freeholders and leaseholds for block of apartments and flats. Normally a block management company will organise external / internal cleaning, garden maintenance, to arranging the insurance and re-decoration.
The “block” could be just a number of houses all sharing an adopted drive and lawn area (shared communal areas) to the largest of tower / housing estates.
Resident Associations can also be responsible for their own Block Management but whilst it may be cheaper it is certainly time consuming.
The external appearance of any building is the first thing everyone sees, how would you feel that when coming home or your guests turning up only to see that the grounds are unkempt be it overgrown flowerbeds, debris in the parking areas and a meadow for a lawn?
The key to keeping the desired appearance is simply down to regular maintenance of the grounds which could encompass lawns, car parking areas and flowerbeds etc. by engaging the services of a quality contractor.
So why change your grounds maintenance contractor?
This could simply be due to the level of service currently being provided, seeking better value for money or any other number of reasons.
What services would a grounds maintenance contractor provide?
Whilst there are a large number of companies that can provide the “one shop” everything provided in-house down to the small sole trader which would provide the minimum / average level of service how may have to sub contact out some tasks, for example tree felling, fence replacement.
What are the minimum services a grounds maintenance contractor provides?
Each site is difference and of course this depends upon their unique requirements and tailored to suit your grounds needs and budget, but as a basic level of service, a grounds contractor would undertake:
When seeking quotes what should a grounds maintenance contractor provide?
A written quotation detailing the extract level of service and price goes without saying but you should also expect to receive (and in no order of importance):
Risk Assessment – This could be a generic risk assessment or one that has been tailored to your particular property / requirements. By the very nature of the business the number of hazards and how a contactor addresses these are numerous, don’t be surprised if this document is over 20 pages long!
Method Statement – This is sometimes referred to a "safe system of work" and is basically a document that details the way a work task or process is to be completed and often goes hand in hand with the risk assessment.
Environmental policy – All businesses should be responsible for achieving good environmental practice and operating in a sustainable manner. The policy should address how the company will minimise the impact of its activities on the environment this would address as a minimum waste disposal, use of chemicals etc.
Health and Safety policy - If a company employs five or more people they must have a written health and safety policy statement and a record of their health and safety arrangements. If the business employs less than five people they are not legally required to have a written health and safety policy statement. However they are still required to ensure that they and their staff work safely. A health and safety policy simply sets out the general approach, objectives and the arrangements they have put in place for managing health and safety in their business.
Terms and Conditions – this would basically address the supplier and customers obligations from payment terms to cancellation ofservices to even limitation of liability.
Copies of their Public Liability, and Employers Liability.
Other documents / statements may encompass as separate documents or included within the above:
Summary of their past experience, team structure and skills.
How they will deliver on the service and timescales.
How they will manage the project.
Presentation of the quotation
Whilst it would be fair to make the assumption that most ground contactors do not hold MBA’s in English you should expect the quotation and supporting documentation to be well presented. If the documents are littered with numerous spell errors and poorly presented you will have to make your own judgement as if it is a sign of creative genius or potentially reflecting on the quality of their work.
The 1 Million Dollar Question –How much does it cost?
It would be impossible to give any ballpark figures as each site have their own unique requirements and tailored to suit your particular grounds needs and budget.
As a general rule of thumb,expect a fixed price quotation based upon 12 months covering the basic service. For some services it wouldn’t always be possible for the contractor to give a fixed price but under these circumstances a recommend price for selective services should be given.
There will always be something that crops up that wasn’t included within the quotation for example that beloved oak tree suddenly getting diseased and require felling. When setting your monthly ground services fees to the tenants allow sufficient funds to cover the unexpected.
Other factors to take into consideration:
Length of time in business – Whilst this isn’t always a reliable gauge of how good the operator is it can beuseful to gain a better understanding of the company and their values. Whilst some clients may assign value to the length of time a company has been in business remember that recently we have seen a number of well-established organisations folding so length of time in business could now be questionable.?
Business address – Whilst it is not always necessary for a company to have formal business premises an operator should be able to provide you with a contact address and land line phone number.
VAT Registered or not?
Being VAT registered or not is not necessarily a sign on how good a company is – There are any number of small companies that operate under the VAT threshold but be mindful they may have to become registered halfway through the contact. The price difference may not always be that vast as a larger organisation would have economies of scale frombulk buying of materials to other reduction ofoperating costs.
Managing the grounds maintenance contractor
Hopefully by selecting the right contractor, the day to day management of them would not be required. It would be prudent to regularly inspect the property to ensure quality and that the level of service is being provided. Most contactors would recommend at least quarterly meetings or correspondence to discuss their progress and medium term planning for upcoming work etc.
The above is far from an exhaustive list and f you would like to discuss your grounds maintenance requirements,please see our contact details at http://www.landscapejuicenetwork.com/profile/BGSLTD
Remember all quotes are free - we always approach our business and our client base in a spirit of partnership. We will cost each service from a position of quality and sustainability, thus offering an appropriate and fair balance between cost, quality, and timeliness to ensure that you receive the service that you have paid, at a standard which you deserve.
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