As the property manager, staff of LaurelCap Sdn Bhd, judges for The Edge Malaysia Best Managed and Sustainable Property Awards 2022 (BMSPA), and City & Country gathered to examine The Park Residences 1, homeowners enthusiastically gushed about its community spirit.
Despite being constructed more than a decade ago, the outside of The Park Residences 1 remains beautiful, sharp, and clean, with nearly everything — from its vibrant koi fish ponds and lush landscaping to its well-ventilated gym and facilities — looking to be in excellent condition.
Jerry Lee Wei Keat, LaurelCap’s director and head of property management, is ecstatic that the development has won its first award, the Silver award in the 10 Years and Above Multiple-owned Strata Residential category. He recalls his first encounter with the residents and his prior experience managing the property.
“When I attended my first interview with the committee members, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were all very kind and approachable,” says Lee at LaurelCap’s Subang Jaya headquarters.
“I also thought they were a really hands-on committee that worked effectively as a unit. “The committee members were helpful and reasonable in their approach to the issues,” he recalls.
Clearly, communication has played a crucial role in The Park Residence 1’s great maintenance. “They (the residents and property manager) are all in agreement; we have unquestionably reached a functioning equilibrium. We engage with them on a regular basis and hold monthly committee meetings.”
In addition, the company has organised celebratory festivities, decorative measures engaging staff and residents, briefings and seminars such as Child Safety Awareness presentations, a First Aid demonstration by the Red Crescent Society, and owners’ participation in resolving the water issue in 2020.
The maintenance price, inclusive of sinking fund, has been kept astonishingly low at 20 sen per square foot despite its obvious care. “For us, it is a matter of setting priorities, optimising costs, and conserving energy whenever possible. “There is also the question of reaching an agreement with the residents, such as the frequency and cost of cleaning the apartment towers.”
“Most importantly, we planned ahead and listened to the needs of the committee members and locals, who, in general, had reasonable requests that were easily granted. We would also explain why certain requests could not be met because they would involve unneeded additional costs.”
“We would establish a complete budget and capex (capital expenditures) to cover current and near-future expenses. We made every effort to predict failure and replace the broken item before to incurring further costs. If data was available, we also compared the cost of prior repairs to the cost of repairs this year. Lee explains that a complete checklist for all categories contained the cost and breakdown that needed to be managed.
We were able to maintain a solid surplus over the past 11 years due to the absence of large breakdowns and unanticipated costs, as well as the absence of special expenses.
UOA Bhd’s 2010-completed The Park Residences 1 is a multiple-ownership strata residential complex consisting of two blocks, Acacia (179 apartments) and Begonia (291 units), for a total of 470 units. The Acacia units range in size from 1,019 to 2,095 square feet, while the Begonia units range from 1,260 to 2,068 square feet.
The Park Residences 1 features a fitness centre, an infinity pool with a children’s pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna, a children’s playground and playroom, a games room, a reading room, a barbeque area, badminton courts, a banquet hall, and a herb garden. Additionally, the construction is interlaced with pergola areas and outdoor strolling trails.
The leasehold development in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur, is 100 percent sold (50 percent owner-occupants and 50 percent investors), with 99 percent local people and one percent foreign residents. The development is 95 percent occupied.
“What sets us apart from the competition is that we have a big number of experienced team members who can provide training and support from other sites if necessary, and we manage sites from the empty possession stage to the formation of management corporation stage. Therefore, we have experience managing buildings in various stages,” he explains.
Implementation of access cards to discourage duplication for enhanced security, upgrade of access card readers, roof structure improvement, inspection of swimming pool pump rooms, and cleaning and upgrade of new pumps are among the major maintenance tasks. Others include reservoir leakage and excess water redirected, water tank internal enhancement, replacement and upgrading of LED lights at the landscape and swimming pool area, new doors and exit points for easier access and enhancement of the library and game rooms.
The upgrading works were “very extensive and exciting”, says Lee. “There were a few considerations such as were we able to work in-house or whether the works required the participation of third parties.”
“Many repairs were done internally by our technicians, who tried their utmost to solve problems that arose, sometimes through trial and error. Works that had to be carried out by third parties such as repainting were awarded through stringent tender and we insisted on the practice of dealing directly with the manufacturer.”
Lee adds, “This proved to be more expensive compared with appointing an applicator but we believed the warranties and after-sales service that came with dealing directly with the manufacturer played a crucial part in keeping The Park Residences 1 sustainable in the long run.” He notes that since its handover in 2011, The Park Residences 1 has maintained its standards and accumulated a total surplus cash of RM4.09 million over 11 years of operation, as at April 2022.
Sustaining for the long term
“For The Park Residences 1, we have created customised, and localised, operating procedures (with a team of managers, technicians and associate directors),” says Lee, as he delves into the comprehensive programme the company has tailored for the property.
“One of the key things that we decided on was to do a tender exercise for repainting [and waterproofing] as the blocks are over 10 years old, and it was a very thorough process.”
Lee highlights some obstacles. “A challenge is the wear-and-tear of the property (in terms of mechanical and electrical). Some of the floors are worn out as well, but we always try our best to be hands-on and clean everything [within the set budget]. Another challenge would be to get a clear standard operating procedure for the property’s management office.
“There was also an increase in electricity consumption, mounting wages of workers and problems posed by service providers.”
“As the building aged, maintenance costs would increase as the need for replacements and repairs gradually increased. In addition, we had to ensure quality and standards were not compromised as we got down to the nitty-gritty of getting things done,” he says.
Lee opines, “To overcome all these, we had to look into our budget and capex thoroughly and find ways to optimise the performance of service providers, machineries and usage of utilities.”
Some of the maintenance and operations of The Park Residences 1 include carrying out routine inspections, handling repairs and electrical works, and ensuring all maintenance works and periodic recalibration works are according to schedule, among many others.
“We have plans to improve our efficiency, and to explore further advancements and enhancements. In the meantime, we have observed many improvements in technology such as LED fittings and consideration of motors [for the property],” says Lee.
“Swimming pools are slowly moving towards adopting variable speed motor/pumps as this allows energy saving and may offer saving and cost recovery within two years. There is also the utilisation of apps, and as apps improve with better features, we would implement these features if they bring us benefits by increasing efficiency without incurring higher manpower needs.”
To date, LaurelCap has a property management portfolio of over 30 properties across the Klang Valley.
With the implementation of the minimum wage policy and the potential increase in electricity consumption, LaurelCap plans to explore further the implementation of energy-saving mechanics without compromising the safety and comfort of residents.
“Solar power, a reduction of cost on utilities and maybe some revenue to be generated from car charging bays are some of the ideas in the pipeline.”