Understanding complex maintenance and factoring obligations
Countesswells Estate is an exceptional community being developed in Aberdeen, which currently comprises six hundred and fifty homes, ranging from apartments, houses, and social housing properties, with a completed estimation of approximately three thousand homes. The overall development infrastructure has been designed to capture a significant amount of green amenity areas, providing a tranquil environment which is enjoyed by many, including James Gibb as the appointed factors for the development.
As the selected factor, James Gibb worked together with the lead homebuilder and associates to ensure that the complex requirements of the contract were considered prior to commencing the factoring agreement. This involved regular Project Team and Legal meetings, to ensure that pre and post construction was considered, but more so, advocating on behalf of homeowners who chose to purchase a home within the development.
Working together at the earliest stages of the development
Our early involvement allowed us to offer advice based on experience, particularly when considering installation of common parts, warranties, and ongoing future maintenance expenses. Involvement at the initial stages also helped us capture as much information as possible to ensure we assisted in preparing a tangible and realistic service charge budget to maintain and sustain the common parts, particularly over a progressive period – as we all know, nothing lasts forever, without proactive maintenance.
Infrastructure Area and Phase Area – separate service charges
Within Countesswells Estate, multiple homebuilders are developing parcels of land and within each phase, each homebuilder will choose to design and build the common parts, which sit separate from the infrastructure land. In accordance with the head Deed of Conditions and supplementary Deed of Conditions, the common parts require separate factoring management and service charges. This results in two separate factoring contracts – Infrastructure Area and Phase Area with a separate service charge for each. This has on occasion been challenging for homeowners to grasp during the handover process, as we often factor the Infrastructure Area, but the Phase Area may be delayed, depending on when the homebuilder chooses to handover the Phase.
Development Management Schemes
This is very different from how standard developments are created and we are now more often coming across Development Management Schemes (DMS) when tendering for contracts. A DMS offers more flexibility for freehold property management in Scotland and helps establish clearer expectation, obligations and decision-making processes for homeowners.
Communication has been an essential factor
Communication has been imperative throughout. Whilst brochures and welcome packs were designed to explain the variances between the two factoring maintenance contracts, we have had to be creative and innovative in designing alternative opportunities to help homeowners understand the factoring contract variances, including:
- James Gibb business development representatives undertaking training sessions with homebuilder Sales staff to enhance their understanding of the variances in factoring contracts, which can then be better relayed to potential purchasers, in line with the marketing literature available.
- Hosting information forums with homeowners, to explain contract variances along with homeowner obligations and respond to any questions or concerns.
- Our Senior Development Manager, Jo Cooper arranged monthly walk-in surgeries for homeowners to meet with Jo personally, to discuss any matters relating to the factoring contracts.
The recent Countesswells’ Annual General Meeting held with homeowners was advantageous. Having insight and access to development information, allowing us to relay information on progress was hugely beneficial and welcomed by homeowners, as it is recognised that whilst homebuilders are still working on site, we consider it to be a mutual partnership to ensure we assist in delivering the highest possible standard of service at minimal cost to homeowners.
Associated services offered by James Gibb, regardless of development size and complexity:
- Pre-Construction Legal Support (Deed of Condition stages) – Helping to design the Deed of Conditions.
- Pre-Construction Technical Support – Helping ‘design teams’ establish affordable maintenance designs, as well as considering warranty agreements.
- Sales Team Training – Understanding factoring obligations and charges to ensure sales negotiators are confident when discussing factoring maintenance charges.
- Pre & Post-Handover – Customer service assistance and training to help establish working relationships and support networks in relation to communal area maintenance.
We are here to help and offer as much support as we can. If you wish to speak with a member of our Business Development Team to arrange a meeting to further discuss the above, please contact our representatives by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0333 240 8325 (option 4).
James Gibb residential factors actively promotes the provision of high standards of service and operational best practice to all stakeholders and throughout the wider property management and factoring sector.
James Gibb doing it the right way