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FM Beyond the Building

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As the Indian real estate continues to evolve, the role of facility management, apart from commercial and retail set-up, is growing in residential buildings as well. Buildotech brings the perspective of a real estate developer and an architect on the key trends in buildings and therefore the work of FM.

Adytum is a growing design and consultancy firm based out of Mumbai rendering professional services in architecture and development. Architect Aditya Vora, Director, Adytum emphasizes on FM practices in-line with changing market trends and new technological advancements in the field of design & construction. Geopreneur Group aims at creating bespoke projects under the leadership of Rohan Agarwal, Deputy Chairman, Geopreneur Group. According to him, technology and changes in consumer behavior are transforming the way buildings are being maintained.

FM as a value added service in real estate developments

Vora: In today’s real estate scenario, it’s easy to build but difficult to sell. It isn’t a seller’s market anymore. Hence developers are exploring and initiating various means to differentiate their services and projects offerings from one another. So yes, today’s developer realizes the importance of FM and provides it as a value added benefit to their project. Also, builders want to make sure that their projects are well maintained by the end users. Their brand image is related to what they build and how does it sustain with time and usage. Hence a proper facility management system is required to maintain and upkeep not only the image of the project but also the brand image of the builder.

Agarwal: With regards to commercial buildings, FM services have been prevalent for quite some time, but a few of the developers are now resorting to using FM firms in residential projects as well. A world-class facility management company adds value for a customer as they are assured that the property will be taken care of, even after the developer exits the project. While, the FM company provides the building whether, commercial or residential, with maintenance at par with global standards, for real estate players, the whole concept helps creates a quality brand image.

Increasing use of technology led FM solutions

Vora: Technology is part of everybody’s daily routine and lifestyle and there is not much of a difference when it comes to application of technology in the FM domain. Use of automated parking, security and surveillance cameras, etc. adds to the quotient of ease of use, safety and comfort. Actually most of these features are not restricted to the elite or premium projects any more. Even the averagely priced buildings have automated FM systems because these relate to convenience and safety more than just luxury. Moreover, a professional FM system converts any building into a smart building. It’s an integral part of the building management system (BMS) module. Controlled and adequate usage of water, electricity and manpower forms the basis of the structure on any FM agency. Use of automations like motion sensors and synchronized lifts drastically cuts down the electrical consumption in the building. Also the use of waterless urinals and combination of gaseous + water dispensing flush tanks can help save water.

Agarwal: Technology has pretty much entered every sphere of our life. Technology driven FM solutions have less human interference and add to the futuristic feel of the project. These amenities are becoming a default feature for every project. For example, the idea of automated parking is a brilliant feat where the tension of parking your car has gone away, making it safe as well as, saving time. I believe that such amenities including CCTV and lift traffic management is the progress that is finally becoming prevalent in both commercial as well as high end residential projects. When you think of it, even the carbon footprint of the building and FM works hand in hand wherein, energy and water, the most important resources are saved through integrated FM technology.

The end user response to a professional maintained facility/ building.

Vora: Today’s end user is very happy to pay a little extra maintenance costs if it frees him from the hassle and worry of maintaining his property. The concept of few members of the society forming a committee and managing the building is very old school now. To manage and operate a technologically driven and modern building systems you need to have a back-up of manpower, infrastructure and multi-disciplinary knowledge; for which a professional FM agency is the best choice. A well-managed & well-maintained property is what every buyer dreams of and if he is convinced of a good professional FM agency on-board the project then it’s a big comfort zone for him and the developer finds it easier to sell such a product.

Agarwal: The whole idea of well managed property is to instill confidence in the prospective end buyer, opting to purchase the space and a well maintained property is definitely a pull factor. A few owners do worry about having to pay marginally more but over a period of time they come around to enjoy its benefits. The end user is important to the building and vice-a-versa, and that is how FM comes into position. After all FM is becoming a part of the lifestyle for the homeowners.

In-house FM v/s Outsourced FM services

Vora: I believe it makes more sense to outsource the FM services to an external agency because it reduces overheads and most importantly a third party would do a more neutral and unbiased job when it comes to operations and maintenance. Even the end users would treat them as an independent entity and not just an extension of the builder’s offices. However this might be wrong in the case of a smaller development where the project cannot afford outsourced services; in that case the in-house expertise of the builder can definitely be more cost effective to both him and the end user as well.

Agarwal: Both have their pros and cons. I personally recommend outsourced FM service as it ensures that the quality of the service is maintained and is a more efficient method though. It is at times considered a security threat, but measures can be taken to double check the safety of the residents. On the other hand, in-house FM facility means reduced efficiency but cost effectiveness. There are certain grey areas which have to be to be taken into consideration while appointing the same as each project and developer has specific needs. In the short run, outsourced professional facility management may seem more expensive, but the benefits derived will definitely be beneficial in the long run. Thus, I have a view that the long run is always more imperative compared to short term benefits of saving on expenditure and when it comes to something like facility management, no compromises should be made.

The potential and challenges of engaging a FM organization

Vora: The FM service provider must understand both the developer and the end user as well before getting associated with the project. FM providers are the link between them; hence, this organization plays a very crucial role in the development. To make the FM agency’s role more fruitful it makes sense to engage with them right from project inception / design stage because they would have some very relevant ideas and suggestions from a traffic circulation, material palette, operations & maintenance perspective. If these are provisioned for at an initial stage, then the FM system can be more efficient as a whole.

Agarwal: FM segment is still evolving and there are very few players to choose from. Most of the market is still untapped. The developers are still out there searching to capture a good agency.


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