The world of UAE's real estate sure has its opportunities… and challenges .
Its stakeholders must rise to these challenges in a more concerted way than in the past. The barrage of issues they are confronted with requires wholesale transformation - but they still ignore key aspects. Doing so will have far-reaching consequences.
For instance, the facilities management sector is part of lots of discussion, but solutions to its problems are at a nascent stage.
Many stages need alignment in any built-up environment’s lifecycle, from land acquisition to the building’s management. FM aligns these goals for each party's best interests. Although even in the midst of recent changes passing through the real estate sector, the FM side of it still has a limited footprint.
Within it lies solutions for many ongoing industry woes such as cost reduction, better maintenance, and better coordination to lower carbon footprint. But key considerations are being ignored between the design, construction and maintenance-related service level agreements as well as on service fees.
Developers have long been circumventing critical components for cost reasons, compromising the minimum needs for sustainable FM standards.
In the current context, the way the common area maintenance costs are set needs a return to basics. These are often inadequate and lost in translation between different stakeholders, leading to insufficient allocation.
Get parameters right
To provide for needed maintenance and lifecycle management costs, defined parameters have to be followed. But what we see are undue considerations provided to other costs such as property management or utility.
This is due to diktats from institutional investors and developers. Traditionally, this responsibility rests on landlords, but the return on investments overrides all other considerations in today’s landscape.
All FM considerations are done for compliance or regulatory purposes, or as pure tokenism. Even benchmarks are not correctively arrived at. I see most FM standards being arrived at as a function of CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) than on actuals.
Burdening the future
The investor-developer nexus is ignoring FM stipulations. Blame it on the market situation or cost pressure, but circumventing maintenance needs will only escalate the future costs and business continuity needs. While compliance related-costs are provided, that too is inadequate. There is an uneven allocation of expenses between administration expenses, property management and core maintenance.
Market pressures in terms of low demand have further aggravated this, with property owners demanding lower service fees. The time is now to engage them in clearing the air, improving trust through effective engagement and transparent cost provision.
In this debate, all have to share the blame. From consultant to construction, developers to investors, and end-users too with their reluctance to pay for the intrinsic cost for maintenance.
Time to play defined parts
Each has to play a role for needed reforms. Developers and the construction industry must revisit their basics as vested interests have gone too far in ignoring fundamentals.
The regulator must also plays its role, as the FM domain remains compromised and in disarray. The compliance stipulations in context to build environments are complex. These mostly remain confined to safety, and not necessarily on sustainability for effective maintenance, low carbon footprint and economic costs.
There is minimal consumer understanding of critical maintenance impact and its basic costs they should maintain. To build sustainable FM regimes that essentially lowers the costs, each player must ensure adequate provision of standards across the property’s lifecycle.
- Tariq Chauhan is Group CEO at EFS.