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Mon 12 Mar 2012 09:28 AM

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Dubai's 'crazy buildings' need a lot of FM - RERA CEO

HE Marwan Bin Ghulaita says facilities management vital to Dubai real estate

Dubai's 'crazy buildings' need a lot of FM - RERA CEO
"The FM industry is going to play a very important and significant role in Dubai’s real-estate sector.”

The long-term maintenance and sustainability of Dubai’s building stock is the current pressing priority of the emirate’s real-estate sector, HE Marwan Bin Ghulaita, the CEO of RERA, said at the MEFMA Annual Conference 2012 at the World Trade Centre.

“The coming future of what we are going to be dealing with here is the operation of buildings. The development cycle is finished, or about to finish, because we have built great buildings for the last three to four years.

“Now we are completing whatever we started in 2005, so it is time to start operating those businesses and generate a lot of income and make sure that those buildings are maintained and are sustainable,” said Ghulaita.

He added that while previously attention had focused on contracts and delivery, “nowadays the story has changed; everybody is talking about defects, bad maintenance, the slow response from FM companies and wrong design decisions in buildings.

“That is why I want to emphasise that the FM industry is going to play a very important and significant role in Dubai’s real-estate sector,” said Ghulaita.

“I can say there are a lot of crazy buildings, and probably you are seeing them everyday. From outside, they look fantastic and amazing, but whenever you go inside, you do not know. It is a different story. This is what the engineers and investors have been telling me.”

Typical maintenance issues reported to RERA range from problems with chillers to finishes. “A lot of problems originate with the design itself,” said Ghulaita, “because when we started with the real-estate boom, nobody gave any consideration to involving FM from the beginning.”

Ghulaita said this approach had now changed with the successful establishment of the Middle East Facilities Management Association (MEFMA), which today boasted 500 members since its inauguration 18 months ago.

“We have started implementing new standards to tell the developer that, before you start your design and construction, involve the FM company from the beginning. This is the way forward from now on.”

Ghulaita added that, while affordability of FM services was also an issue, cost considerations must not override quality and efficiency.

This meant the FM industry had to engage in education and awareness-raising. “It [is incumbent] on all to make sure stakeholders are aware of what you are doing for them, that you are making their buildings sustainable and that the value of the building will be enhanced day-by-day in this process.”

Ghulaita said RERA had collated anecdotal evidence of many common defects and problems. “Buildings may have been completed, but it needs a great job to keep them going and to be there for at least 50 to 60 years.”

In addition, it was critical that all buildings have a sinking fund to provide for long-term maintenance requirements. “Nowadays buyers ask about the FM company, who is operating this building, and they ask about the sinking fund, because a building without this represents a bad investment. So our job is very important for the economy of Dubai.”

Ghulaita said that even small snags “mean a lot to the investor. If you go to a building and see all this, I do not think you will buy. That is why prices in Dubai differ. Investors are wise; it is not like before.

“Before the market was driven by speculators; now we have end users who come to Dubai to stay in Dubai, to maintain their investment for as long as they can, so they will look at small details and finishes.

“They will look at the load schedule for electricity; before they did not care about this. I will buy it for this much today; I will flip it in two. Now it is different.”

Ghulaita said RERA was striving to make the real-estate sector as transparent as possible. The association’s new website publishes a comprehensive listing of building names, together with the details of the developer, contractor, FM company and owners’ association board.

“So everything will be transparent for the investor. Before he buys property in Dubai, he will find this information on the website. Whatever the FM company does, it will affect the standing of the building itself in the local market.” Ghulaita referred to an instance where construction waste had been dumped in a building corridor post-handover.

Another major problem was inconsistent or inadequate entrance/exit and emergency signage. “Previously we had different authorities to regulate or give completion certificates for different parts of buildings in Dubai. All the authorities are now mandated to deliver buildings to one building code.

Other issues related to sub-standard design and maintenance included poor wiring installations for both low-voltage and life-safety systems, wiring not installed in accordance with regulations, fire stopping missing around service penetrations, and poor AC maintenance and/or installation, leading to health problems.

“This is the reality. This is what you see in most of the buildings. From the outside, it looks fantastic … this is what the real-estate advisors are now looking at. They involve lawyers and technical people to give them a checklist before they buy.”

Ghulaita called on the FM industry to help advance this agenda of responsibility and accountability. “You are the experts who will help this industry to move forward, because this is not the time to go back. This is the time to fix.

“We here in Dubai are very glad about the talent, expertise and the passionate people we have. It is a challenging role, but we have the expertise and technology at our disposal. With all the passion for real estate and the environment we have in Dubai, I am sure we can succeed and make Dubai an FM hub for the region.”

Ghulaita commended MEFMA for taking up the cudgel in this regard, and “helping to transfer knowledge to the region and giving it a good example of how we can maintain our buildings and make them sustainable.”

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Jay 7 years ago

While I appreciate what is being done about FM in Dubai there are other issues as well. District cooling has become a very contentious issue for unit owners. What is RERA doing about that?

It appears that district cooling has evolved into a privately run utility that can charge whatever they like. Nakheel recently raised the rate of chilled water by 130% by swapping to a 3rd party, and owners have no say in the matter.

Also in Jumeirah Islands owners are informed they cannot form a home owner association. Is RERA doing anything about that?

HHH 7 years ago

These comments from RERA are all valid and useful. But we need help against Nakheel at the Palm Shoreline Apartments:

- Service charges increased substantially each year, not to improve service but to provide profits to Nakheel

- Terrible maintenance by Nalheel - anyone would be better. The rotting garbage in some basements of the Palm Shareline Apartments are a health hazard.

- Purchase contracts of Nakheel all show common areas as a shared ownership resource of the residents, and Nakheel arbitrarily takes them away and tries to charge everyone for them, even if they have paid every service charge.

- Palm District Cooling that was supposed to save money by doing it all as a common service, but is actually far more expensive than if each reisdent simply installed their own airconditioning.

Thomas 7 years ago

Where are these real estate owners with the sustainable thinking?

As an FM Professional in the business with more than 20 years of international experience - I still miss the professional clients in the market.

All of the big developers and owners go for cheapest prices, never asking for the high service level they would need for their buildings to keep asset values high and sustainable. To get contracts you have to offer prices where professional FM service is impossible to be delivered.

Mahomed Alli 7 years ago

100% AGREED with Thomas

Professional Clients in the market should factor professional FM/Safety,Health,Environmental,Risk,Quality,sustainable services – including architectural aesthetics right from the beginning of a contract & should not take cheapest prices into consideration but long term sustainability measures for the green upkeep/maintenance for these newly built High Rise Buildings.

mario 7 years ago

I wish developers would listen to HE Marwan Bin Ghulaita. A typical case is JBR were the developer (Dubai Properties) is still controlling all the operations through the sister companies - Taziz (property management), Idama (FM provider), Dubai Security Group. Owners would be more than happy with the current situation if these companies would do their job properly and keep the assets in a good condition. But services and maintenance quality are poor and prices are high and these companies proved in the past that they are not capable to take care of big projects like JBR.

Louie Tedesco 7 years ago

The article is frightening and adds one more nail to the real estate coffin. Aside from lost capital for delayed or cancelled projects, owners now face in-built dangers to life and health from inept installation of technical facility systems.

Extract “… issues related to sub-standard design and maintenance…include poor wiring for low-voltage and life-safety systems, wiring not installed in accordance with regulations, fire stopping missing around service penetrations, poor AC maintenance and installation, leading to health problems. This is the reality. This is what you see in most of the buildings.”

Significant cost results when facility systems must be gutted and replaced from completed buildings. The serious issues noted above cannot simply be ignored or wished away, they must be rectified or replaced before a tragic fire occurs that can destroy multiple floors of high-rise buildings. Wiring incorrectly installed, missing fire stop material PLUS poor maintenance! Good luck!

Robin Hood 7 years ago

The main issues are the developers like Dubai Properties. They sold over 25 towers in the JBR to private owners and engaged a daughter company to manage the properties. This manager treats the owners as if they were tenants; even tenants have more rights in this country. The owners are paying a lot of money for bad service, no transparency and negligence. It is time for RERA to implement their laws and grant the owners some rights.