Facilities management consultancy (FM Consultancy) is an essential asset management tool that enables building owners, managers and occupiers to get ahead through proactive maintenance management that comprehensively protects and enhances an asset’s value. By providing the framework to manage existing engineering assets efficiently, we can support in driving a reduction in clients’ costs, energy use and risk throughout the building’s lifecycle. Despite this, it can be overlooked, and we are often seeing this trend within the student accommodation sector.  We explore the benefits of implementing a robust FM maintenance strategy, and how being proactive is worthwhile in the long run. 

Application to both new and existing buildings 

Despite building services within student accommodation often being less complex than other properties, there are pitfalls to not maintaining these to a good standard that end up affecting the overall student experience. A relatively simple solution, such as a lack of local heating control or failed lighting, can lead to dissatisfied students and poor reviews. Poor maintenance can lead to premature asset failure, increased associated downtime and capital costs. 

In the case of new purpose-built student accommodations (PBSA), operators are often not instructed until late in the development process. This can leave engineering services, maintenance, and contract management as an afterthought. Some operators may not have the expertise to either manage the engineering services themselves or tender an appropriate maintenance specification competitively and successfully. While it is a service to be considered prior to practical completion (PC), the benefits are evident and realised at any point during a building’s life. 

Our FM consultancy team verify and produce detailed asset registers prior to PC so clients know exactly what installations are on site, as operations and maintenance (O&M) information can be insufficiently detailed or be produced too late in the process. Specifying tailored maintenance requirements in advance of PC enables a clear scope of ongoing maintenance for the operator, which in turn keeps warranties valid. This means that the maintenance is in place from the outset to avoid clients rushing around and feeling pressured at the most crucial time when the building is being handed over. Further assistance can also be provided with mobilisation, warranty, and defect management. 

A current trend that we are seeing with our clients is to establish an ongoing term consultancy agreement to monitor ongoing performance of the operator or FM contractor to the agreed maintenance specification. This involves regular audits, chairing contract review meetings, and providing ad hoc technical support. This ensures continued value for money and helps with any ongoing issues as the operator and maintainer get to grips with the building. 

As for existing properties, the older the assets are, the more often there’s a lack of accurate information or inappropriate maintenance being carried out. It is vital to bring the service up to the required standard and keep it there, potentially conducting statutory or general maintenance audits, producing reports with tracked actions to ensure issues are closed.  This can inform next steps to competitively tender, and/or implement term consultancy. 

By providing future CAPEX reports over five or ten years, a holistic approach to CAPEX and OPEX management is achieved. At Hollis, we can fulfil this through our in-house teams specialising in building fabric, mechanical and electrical (M&E), and lifts as well as providing wider expertise around  ESG related legislation and recommendations for integrated advice. As part of our ongoing term consultancy, we conduct physical inspections of plants and plantrooms. This is critical to assessing the completeness and quality of the maintenance provider’s operations. 

Recognising the need for FM consultancy services

We’re able to play an integral role in the management of a site through our FM consultancy service. As we get to know the nuances of each property, our FM consultants become trusted advisors, and we can save time and money for our clients by providing pragmatic advice, incorporating our wider Hollis expertise and services when required. Whether it be a refurbishment project or a drone survey of the roof, we can help.  What has proven critical on a number of sites, for example, is conducting inspections following minor works to M&E or building fabric, to ensure any existing defects or compliance issues, such as poor workmanship or fire protection, are identified and addressed at the earliest opportunity. 

A well-considered maintenance strategy is essential for the reliable and optimal operation of a building. With offices across the UK and Europe, we’re well placed to support clients and are passionate about having a positive impact on the sector. To find out more, get in touch with our FM consultancy lead, Derek Houston.