Silkworks is a prestigious residential complex development consisting of 426 apartments over 7 individual residential blocks with a mix of private and social housing tenants, fed from two centralised energy centres. DMG Delta were approached by MLM the Managing Agents of the building, and asked to provide Heat Interface Unit (HIU) maintenance proposals for each block.
With the Christmas festivities just around the corner, for many of you the words ‘Secret Santa’ will have already been mentioned.
DMG Delta have decided to do something a little different this year instead of the “normal” office Secret Santa…. we are going to do our first ‘Children’s Ward Advent Hamper’!!!
From the 1st – 23rd December every day at least one member of our team will be bringing in a gift i.e. teddy bear, game, puzzle etc with the hope that throughout December our Advent Hamper will become full of lots of fabulous gifts for all of the children that are going to be spending their Christmas in hospital.
On Friday 23rd December a few staff members will be visiting Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Children Ward to gift them the hamper of goodies, ready for all of the children to open on Christmas morning.
We are hoping that this year will be the first of many ‘Advent Hamper’s’.
If you would like to contribute to our hamper then please send any gifts to our Head Office at Sion Park, adding ‘Children’s Ward Advent Hamper’ on the packaging.
We will make sure to update our social media sites with photo’s of the hamper being delivered.
The challenge of prolonging the life of aging buildings
Without heating or hot and cold water a building is uninhabitable. That’s why today’s Managing Agent has to manage the potential threat of losing critical services. Yet, escalating service charges are a common and constant worry which means that you can’t just spend your way out of the problem. Often it comes down to postponing the inevitable replacement programme, by keeping heating and hot water assets in service for as long as possible, whilst also minimising costs.
Unfortunately, some Managing Agents discover the hard way that taking on local, poorly qualified tradespeople or domestic engineers to maintain their aging and complex commercial systems, is the wrong way to minimise costs. Don’t fall into this trap. All too often the end result is a botched job, which will cause problems elsewhere in the system, affecting many people and racking up significant service charge costs.
Seek out the potential dangers
Being proactive is essential. That’s because many heat networks and water systems designed to last 50 years, in reality have been in service for close to 100 years. Inevitably problems crop up and, if left, they can potentially become catastrophic.
In my experience, these common hidden issues can lead to major problems:
- Crossovers, with cold water in the hot pipes or vice versa, caused by poor understanding of the system and pressures.
- Long term air and sludge in systems and unchecked storage tanks.
- Changes in demand – fitting pumps, extra radiators and showers – without considering the impact across the system.
- Unresolved leaks leading to constant top-ups with untreated water.
- Low hot water temperatures, blocked waterways and poor hygiene control leading to legionella problems.
- Uncontrolled apartment works that also miss opportunities to replace pipework and valves.
- Valves that don’t work! This means drain downs for planned or emergency work in most instances will affect the whole building and all services.
Plan for the best, expect the worst
When dealing with old buildings my advice to you would be, plan for the best and expect the worst.
Here’s what you should do:
- Don’t think that a ‘head in the sand’ approach will work. It’ won’t.
- Instead, select a maintenance company that has the skills and expertise to provide you with a bespoke maintenance schedule for your buildings.
- Ensure your maintenance company can identify the pressure points and dangers within the existing infrastructure, and attend at short notice 24/7/365 when that inevitable crisis hits.
Avert a crisis with 24/7 emergency response
Flats are valuable assets, so an emergency should only ever be just that, an emergency. It mustn’t be allowed to become a nightmare. As the emergency is spotted, it must trigger a swift response any time of the day or night, 365 days of the year, regardless of whether it’s The Sabbath, Hanukkah, Diwali or Christmas Day. Speedy solutions keep residents happy!
Take control with on-call support:
- Emergency service should be embedded into your contract, with KPIs reported to you each month, should you wish.
- You should expect, and get, a swift response day or night, 365 days per year.
Keep control of costs – Avoid the FTT
With these aging buildings, keeping costs within the maintenance budget can sometimes seem an impossible task. When problems arise and quotes come rolling in, it’s easy for the costs to spiral out of control. Overspends will be scrutinised by the residents and if not fully justified, will cause an even greater problem.
Your cost-control checklist:
- Choose a proactive maintenance company that will assist in budget planning by prioritising works or giving advance notice of funds needed for future works.
- Find a company that’s committed to preserving the condition of plant and systems, and identifying energy saving measures.
- Make sure that you receive a complete breakdown of all costs encountered.
- Demand that all maintenance costs are fully justified and over-expenditure is limited, or eradicated.
- Consider insurance which is available to cover this risk.
Solve complex issues with experienced engineers
Be certain you know the difference between engineers and experienced engineers by using this ‘tick box’ exercise to select the best of the best:
- Are they knowledgeable enough to ignore the obvious and identify the root cause of an issue?
- Are they technically competent to find safe practical solutions to complex problems?
- Are they multi-skilled, so if they discover the heating failure they’ve responded to was actually caused be an electrical failure, they can handle that safely too?
- Are they commercially experienced to consider the long term implications and cost-benefit of any fix?
A specialist maintenance partner, like DMG Delta, with proven ability to support mansion blocks and whose engineers tick all these boxes, is the key to keeping your building alive.
“These mansion blocks which line many of London’s residential streets may look grand, but often the communal heating and hot water systems which are at the heart of the building have far exceeded their ‘best before’ dates. With upgrades potentially costing millions, and the residents reluctant to foot the bill, it’s often preferable to work with what you’ve got – whether it’s aging boiler plant or old heat distribution and water systems.”
Dave Collins, Contracts Manager at DMG Delta.
With our busy day to day lives the majority of us like to plan ahead and be prepared as much as we possibly can. This may mean diarising social events, or keeping on top of meetings to ensure work commitments are met, but what about the “little things” that we feel are beyond our control – your heating system for example?
Year in, year out your heating operates in many cases with no trouble at all and becomes forgotten about until something goes wrong! It’s the coldest day of the year and of course that’s when your boiler decides it’s had enough – then this “little thing” becomes a big problem and your number one priority.
Here at DMG Delta we never take your heating system for granted and that’s why we believe having a regular maintenance schedule in place is essential. Whether your property is a block of residential apartments, a school, office or museum DMG Delta can help you!
How does it work?
A member of our team will attend site and carry out a full survey, we will create a bespoke maintenance package for your assets on site, comprising of the following elements:
- Commercial and domestic heating and boiler plant maintenance
- Water treatment, hygiene & L8 compliance maintenance
- Air-conditioning maintenance and installation
- Electrical services – power, light, control, testing & installation
- Energy efficiency
- Heat Interface Units (HIU’s)
- Specialist services
Depending on the service level required, assets on site, and age of plant, we may feel it necessary to visit weekly, monthly, twice a year or even just once a year. No matter the frequency, we will do our utmost to ensure your assets on site are in the best possible working order the whole year through.
We will advise you accordingly of any repairs that may be necessary and help you plan for any longer term replacement or investment plans, providing advice on timescales and budgeting. We have an excellent project management team, dedicated to effectively managing any large scale upgrade, replacement or installations.
Now we all know that obstacles arise and even with planned maintenance schedules in place, and as with any equipment there may be emergencies that cannot be foreseen – however we have that covered as well!
DMG Delta offer a 24/7 emergency call-out service to all contracted clients, so help is only ever a quick phone call away. We pride ourselves on our response time, and within most circumstances you will have a fully qualified engineer on site within 2 hours – not many other companies can promise you that.
If you would like to learn a little bit more about the services that we have to offer, or you have any questions regarding this article then please give us a call on 01279 810 100 and one of our friendly members of staff will be happy to help!!
The Government has announced that it is intended that landlords will be required to install working smoke alarms and where gas appliances are fitted, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as well, in their properties. This is in a bid to raise safety and reduce the number of deaths from CO incidents in the rental sector.
The move is expected to prevent some 26 fatalities and 670 injuries per year, and is part of wider Government actions being undertaken to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety.
These measures are expected to become effective from October 2015 subject to Parliamentary approval. Consultation has shown that this will be strongly supported. It has been suggested that England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities will provide support to private landlords within their areas by providing free alarms using grant funding from the government.
The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy agreement.
These should be fitted to the ceiling, especially close to areas of high risk (kitchens for example) and outside bedrooms.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed. Although gas and oil may not be considered as solid fuel, CO alarms should also be fitted. In the rooms where these appliances are installed at a horizontal distance of between 1m and 3m from the source. If only one alarm is fitted it is best fitted relatively close to the breathing zone of the occupants.
Failure to comply could see landlords face up to a £5,000 penalty.
Brandon Lewis, Housing Minister, said “The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.” “But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility”
Stephen Williams, Communities Minister, said “We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.” “People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.”
Steve Martin, Head of the Fire and Security Association, said: “This announcement will help improve the safety of rented accommodation and punish those landlords who are putting the safety of their tenants at risk for the sake of saving a relatively small sum of money. Now private rented properties will be brought into line with the existing building regulations that require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.”
The fire which started as an electrical fault in a well maintained Victorian tunnel beneath the Kingsway on Wednesday 1st April burned until the Good Friday. This fire damaged an eight-inch gas main, which ruptured further fuelling the fire resulting in flames and smoke coming out of manhole covers in the road above. Modern technology proved itself in the use of infra-red images of hot spots from the National Police Air Service helicopter and live images in the tunnel using the Met Police’s explosives robot.
It caused about 5,000 people to evacuate from various buildings and roadways in the area and is estimated that approximately 100 businesses were affected as well as thousands of tenants. UK Power stated that over 3,000 people were affected by the power outage that for some continued until Good Friday.
Although the London emergency services and UK Power Network, National Grid and local councils acted together very successfully to contain the fire and extinguish what could have been a disaster for London, it is a warning to all London’s businesses and managed properties to have plans in place to protect the occupants, their property and businesses.
What should be in place?
Firstly a Fire Risk Assessment followed by a Fire Emergency Plan; these ensure that all the risks involving possible fires have been identified, with control measures (either in place or planned) and a plan of how everyone’s safety will be ensured. The Emergency Plan may have total evacuation, partial or to stay put until the Fire Brigade decide otherwise and importantly tested to be usable. This is the responsibility of the person ultimately in charge of the building to make sure this is in place.
Secondly, what happens if the ‘event’ continues on for days, weeks or months? This is where the Business Continuity Plan comes into play. Scenarios such as this fire are planned out with business responses that enable the business to continue functioning until everything is restored.
If you do not have these in place for either your business or a managed property (with more than one dwelling) then you need one – call Jane for advice on 01279 810125 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For details regarding our H&S services that we offer to clients then please click here.
Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 – Fines are Imminent
These Regulations were introduced in December 2014 to provide regulation to a previously unregulated market place. Heat Suppliers (this could encompass Developers, Landlords and Managing Agents depending on the arrangements in place) have the responsibility to notify the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about schemes
The scope of the regulations is extensive and we only provide a brief explanation on selected elements of the Regulations, focussing on metering and billing requirements. This we feel is particularly relevant as there are a considerable number of schemes where the metering technology is not delivering the expectations of the consumer and the need to receive regular and accurate charges for their energy usage.
The regulations require a meter to be installed to measure the heat, chill or hot water supplied from a district heat network to a building occupied by more than one final customer. Further, from 31 December 2016, separate metering is required for each final customer (unless it is not cost effective and technically feasible to do so – which need to be determined in accordance with schedule 1 of the regulations).
If a building is only occupied by one final customer then a heat supplier must install a meter to measure the heat, chill or hot water supplied, unless it is not cost effective and technically feasible to do so (again, this will need to be determined in accordance with schedule 1 of the regulations).
An exception to the above position is in the case of a newly constructed building supplied by a district heat network or where a building supplied by a district heat network undergoes “major renovation” which relate to the heating, cooling, ventilating, hot water or lighting services of that building. In those circumstances, the installation of meters to measure each final customer’s consumption of heat, chill and hot water is mandatory. A “major renovation” is regarded as where the total renovation cost of the “building envelope” (the integrated parts of the building which separate the interior and exterior) is more than 25% of the value of the building (excluding the value of the land).
If a heat supplier determines that the installation of meters is not cost effective and technically feasible then alternative measures need to be considered – such as the installation of heat cost allocators and thermostatic radiator valves. Where there is no meter, the cost effectiveness/feasibility must be re-assessed every 4 years.
Where meters are installed, the heat supplier must ensure that bills and billing information for the consumption of heating, cooling and hot water by the final customer are (1) accurate, (2) based on actual consumption and (3) compliant with the principles set out in Schedule 2 of the regulations. Schedule 2 requires information such as current energy prices, consumption information and contact information for organisations which provide information on energy efficiency measures to be provided with the bill.
Clearly, if bills are being produced without accurate metering information then they will not be accurate, based on accurate consumption nor compliant with the principles set out in schedule 2. If this happens after 30 April 2015, this will be a criminal offence, which may result in a fine upon conviction of up to £5,000.
The result being that, where a development is failing to provide accurate consumption data at a consumer level, then the Heat Supplier will be in breach, subject to criminal proceedings and a fine if convicted.
If you would like more information on this then please contact us on 01279 810100.
Gas is fundamentally unsafe yet used all over the UK in both domestic and commercial premises, but over the past 26 years the Regulations, Registers and best practices have improved, reducing the number of gas related incidents and more particularly the number of fatalities has fallen dramatically.
In an effort to make gas safe the Gas Safe Register was created, it is not a voluntary register – all gas engineers have to be registered! CHECK the register for your Gas Engineer – it could be a life you save! www.gassaferegister.co.uk and click on the yellow text to check either a Business or an Engineer.
All of DMG Delta’s Gas engineers are Gas Safe registered, in various skill bases to ensure we have the skills to match our Client’s expectations and needs. As a company we are registered with Gas Safe (registered number is 23956), which means that our management system is annually audited by Gas Safe. We have passed this year with no non-conformities or recommendations identified, although we have made improvements to the system as part of our continuous improvement programme.
Using a Gas Safe registered contractor for your gas appliances and plant rooms not only ensures that you are compliant with the regulations, but also that the work undertaken will be completed by a very competent person who has undergone formal training in specific skill sets, leaving your premises safe and your equipment functioning longer due to excellent maintenance.
With over 30 years’ experience as heating engineers in both the domestic and commercial environment, DMG Delta Ltd is a company that really beats your expectations when it comes to plant room and domestic servicing, as well as installation work in the London area. We work actively with you to make sure that your gas installations are and remain compliant and safe.
Every week there seems to be a new article in the media with the two words we all fear – carbon monoxide…Very effective campaigns driven by The HSE, Gas Safe and other industry bodies have raised awareness of the danger, but to a degree this has been quite rightly focused on the Domestic Sector which is often unregulated, hence targeting owner occupiers with a campaign highlighting the dangers.
What is Carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a sneaky silent killer – it’s colourless, you can’t smell it and you can’t taste it – making it nigh on impossible to detect without the use of a Carbon monoxide detection systems. CO can kill quickly without warning, and according to recent HSE statistics on average 12 people die from CO poisoning every year, with non-fatalities (hospitalization) averaging 300 per year. (Source Below: RIDDOR: Table RIDGAS 2008/9-2012/13)
RIDDOR Table RIDGAS
Incidents reported in Great Britain relating to the supply and use of flammable gas (a) 2008/09- 2012/13p
|Type of incident (b)||Year|
|Total number of incidents||203||223||278||173||219|
|Carbon monoxide poisoning||172||196||229||142||187|
|Other exposure e.g. to unburnt gas||4||6||13||7||6|
|Total number of fatalities||18||10||17||4||10|
|Carbon monoxide poisoning||15||9||13||3||9|
|Other exposure e.g. to unburnt gas||1||–||1||.-||–|
|Total number of non-fatalities||324||330||428||266||343|
|Carbon monoxide poisoning||289||292||368||226||302|
|Other exposure e.g. to unburnt gas||5||11||12||8||6|
Below are a few notes on the above Continue reading
With colder weather setting in and the chance of freezing temperatures this winter, one thing every Managing Agent needs to get right is heating. The demand on boiler plant and district heating rises as outside temperatures drop. Small faults can become big problems and older plant can struggle to cope. Yet residents in apartment blocks need reliable heating and hot water. So how can expectations be achieved?
The most important step is to put in place a regular maintenance schedule, tailored to the building. This planned maintenance helps prevent problems arising and prolong the life of assets such as boiler plant. By identifying and resolving issues before they happen, fewer call-outs are required which in turn cuts down costs, reducing residents’ bills.
Much of the older blocks have their original distribution systems. These are infrastructure items that need careful monitoring but are often forgotten.
Companies like DMG Delta, which specialise in block maintenance, work 24/7 to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to winter heating. When problems are identified the company’s engineers are fully qualified and equipped to fix them first time in the majority of cases. This saves Managing Agents the time, hassle and cost of second and third visits.
As well as ensuring effective heating, buildings must comply with increasingly complex regulations. It’s critical that sites are serviced by fully compliant gas engineers, authorised to complete the necessary checks and issue the all important paperwork that shows that Managing Agents have met their legal obligations. With this kind of back-up, you have the reassurance that your engineers will know the latest rules, no matter how often they change. Engineers at DMG Delta are qualified to provide this service. Employees, quality and health & safety are fundamental so that the service residents and Managing Agents experience is what they’d expect and more.
Whilst technical excellence is a vital aspect of a high-performing maintenance service, of equal importance is the provision of a friendly help desk. Does your help desk really know you and your building and provide a maintenance service that exactly matches your needs?
Even with the best preventative work, problems can arise with heating and boiler plant. We advocate that 24 hour emergency support is a feature of all maintenance contracts. For our clients, an engineer is generally on site within a 2-hour time frame. This is a rapid response because when it comes to heating, we believe Managing Agents and their residents shouldn’t have to wait a moment longer. But not every maintenance company can react as quickly. So check your maintenance company’s approach and key performance indicators to see if they can get close to matching up.