Is planned maintenance value for money?

Now there’s a question to get the brain cells working. For many, to even question the assertion that planned maintenance delivers value for money is heresy. But is it?  Given that the vast majority of social housing has been modernised in the last 15 years and most have “reasonably modern” facilities, is continuing with component renewal through planned programmes the best way to target investment and deliver value for money (VFM)?

A small, but growing, number of housing organisations are questioning the VFM basis for planned programmes, when replacement en masse was needed due to major components all failing the decency threshold at the same time following years of underinvestment. However, that scenario has now changed and components are likely to fail at different times, not at one convenient point in time. This is because failure of main components such as kitchens, boilers and bathrooms, depends to a great extent on the level of fair wear and tear they receive from householders. This is increasingly being supported by stock condition surveys which are predicting different timescales for component failure, even if the components were fit at the same time.

Against this backdrop, demand-led component renewal is the most effective and efficient way of targeting capital resources. This system relies on operatives referring main components for replacement, but only when they cannot be repaired. The work is then carried out quickly by a flexible, multi-skilled team of operatives. It does not require technical surveys, or complex specifications to determine the scope of work. It does not require bureaucratic tendering and evaluation procedures. It does not need complicated project management systems or contractor monitoring arrangements. And it does not require detailed monthly invoicing or certification processes to pay contractors.

All-in-all, demand-led component replacement delivers targeted renewals, to where they are needed, in a timescale welcomed by tenants, whilst saving considerable sums in terms of back-office support costs. It also drives efficiency in the way components are replaced, maximising operative working time, thereby further reducing replacement costs.

If you are interested in exploring whether such an approach might save you money for other priorities such a fire safety improvements or new development, please contact the NHC which has a bank of experienced Associates who have delivered these systems with considerable success in other housing organisations.

This blog entry was written by Jeremy Lester, one of the NHC’s associates. For more on how the NHC can save you valuable time and money through our associates, please see the Business Improvement Services section of the NHC website.