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Head to head: early involvement

by Devina Divecha on Jan 3, 2013

Martin Gregory,  managing director, Facility Masters Overseas Ltd (FMO) and Alan Millin, consultant and registered trainer at Dubai Knowledge Village
Martin Gregory, managing director, Facility Masters Overseas Ltd (FMO) and Alan Millin, consultant and registered trainer at Dubai Knowledge Village

A slew of projects were announced at Cityscape Global 2012. fmME speaks to experts about early FM involvement

Should FM firms be consulted during design-and-build stages and why?

Martin Gregory answers Yes. Engagement should, as a minimum, be at concept design and ideally during pre-design. The biggest impacts on operational costs for buildings are due to the occupation or common area ratio and service standards, and it is essential that developers understand these impacts before committing to the design.

Alan Millin answers Absolutely. Operations teams will tell designers what works. FM consultants have the benefit of feedback from operations teams and owners. This provides input for continuous improvement of FM and design. Development teams design green buildings; FM teams try to make them sustainable rather than colour-coded.

Do you think architects and/or designers consider post-construction maintenance when creating their designs?

Martin Gregory answers Most do, very few don’t. However all architects and designers are primarily focused on the building form and user function. They consider operability and maintainability, but as they generally don’t have operational knowledge and experience, it can be sacrificed to ensure the architect’s vision is not compromised.

Alan Millin answers Obviously some do but there are still many that don’t give this enough thought. Mature organisations recognise the benefits of FM input into designs, while less-mature organisations have some way to go. Many are taking steps towards sustainability; tracking the sustainability maturity of organisations is helpful.

Is the practice of bringing FM companies from the start a common practice in the Middle East?

Martin Gregory answers Typically no, but there has been progress. Consultants have been brought in early on institutional developments, because developers own these indefinitely and expect long-term returns. The same is happening in real estate; developers are holding more stock to lease. FMs help mitigate costs when brought in early.

Alan Millin answers It’s certainly not as common as FMs would like or recommend. It seems to be a growing practice although the growth is not as fast as it could be. Lack of awareness/acceptance among some developers, design teams and owners is an issue. The community is on a constant education mission to highlight the benefits of FM.

What are the advantages of FM firms being involved from the beginning?

Martin Gregory answers FM ensures the sustainability of a building for its design life, and considers the financial, social, cultural and environmental impact for the users and owners over the whole life of a building so it is still relevant throughout the design life. This can only be achieved by considering these factors at earliest stages of design.

Alan Millin answers In developments where FM was not effectively incorporated, owners are paying for poor quality. They paid developers once for their homes and are paying again to have remedial work done under the guise of service charges. FM input could have given owners a better product and developers a better reputation.