Can body corporates afford not to maintain the exterior of their investment?
In some body corporates, scheduling cleaning and maintenance of your external assets can be difficult. Expenditure of body corporate funds requires a majority vote, which is unlikely without a clear understanding of what the problem is, the benefits of fixing it and the risks of not doing so. One area which affects all property owners is the external façade.
There are many factors which can cause the appearance of an apartment façade to degrade, such as air pollution, dust, acid rain, bird feces, dirt and runoff from gutters. If you’re really unlucky you may have graffiti vandalism, which requires urgent removal before it attracts further incidents.
Frequent maintenance and exterior cleaning of apartment complexes is critical for maintaining growth in property value and rental income. Prospective buyers will be more critical of the exterior appearance, as they realise they have little power to change it. Unlike owning your own property, where you can paint, render, grow plants and make other improvements, in the body corporate environment there is little room for external modification to the shared exterior areas. The style of a building may not be to everyone’s tastes, but if it is consistantly clean and presentable, it may still meet a prospective buyer or tenants approval.
There are more reasons for keeping your façade clean than aesthetics. Allowing dirt and grime to accumulate on your building over a long period can create a seal, preventing the building from breathing and causing problems such as water retention. Mortar joints can also deteriorate.
In an organised body corporate, property owners will ensure that periodic façade cleaning is scheduled on their list of preventative maintenance tasks. Expenses such as façade cleaning will already be factored into levies, with property owners seeing this as part of protecting their investment rather than a cost.
The right frequency for façade cleaning of your apartment cleaned can vary. Many won’t need an entire exterior clean each month. The frequency depends of factors such as the façade building material, how well the job was carried out previously, it’s exposure to contaminants and the budget of the body corporate.
Our Melbourne stain removal technicians recently performed the façade cleaning of a body corporate apartment complex in Fitzroy (see images). The building has been modernised with a striking concrete façade on it’s street facing side. These facades look great, however their simple design does little to hide stains. Dirt from the top of the building had run down the sides, resulting in long brown stains. The top ledge had become a gathering spot for local birds, resulting in faece stains. Mould and other ad-hoc stains were appearing, degrading the appearance of a once fine building.
Taking into account the porous nature of concrete, we selected a cleaning solution which did not contain strong acids, such as muriatic acid. Such acides are often found in off-the-shelf cleaning products and leave behind white, powdery, shadow-like stains.
To reduce their future façade cleaning requirements, we installed bird spikes at the top of the building.
Specialist equipment and skills were required to manage the inherent risks and perform the task to a high standard. Scissor lifts were used to safely reach the full height of the building and provide a safe and secure platform. Our technicans wore safety harnesses to mitigate the risk of falling from the force of the high pressure cleaners. Pedestrian and traffic risks were managed at ground level by closing off work and at-risk areas.
Tasks of this nature require planning, with a risk assessment being conducted before commencement of work. Council permits were applied for and granted. All our technicians are covered by a $20 million public liability insurance policy.