EMERGENCY IS A TRICKY ONE TO HANDLE INTERNALLY

Defined specifically in the new Quality Code as a level of cover to be provided to all customers, Emergency is a tricky one to manage on your own. Monday to Friday, standard office hours is ‘doable’ just, but even then, you must be certain that the phone will always be answered straight away. What about lunch hours and absenteeism due to sickness, holidays, and training?


But talking calls out of hours is a whole other dimension and we never cease to be amazed at how many organisations ‘gamble’ that there won’t be calls at these times. Well, there are. In fact, 3am on a Sunday is a regular time, mid-afternoon Christmas Day is another and weekends are always busy.


So, what is the best course of action? There is only one – ALL developers should subscribe to an Out of Hours Emergency service cover. It makes perfect sense, and these service providers are geared up to managing the worst of situations – all the time. Don’t think that by passing a mobile phone around between colleagues (a technique we have come across multiple times) is a workable solution. It isn’t – poor reception, forget to charge it, forget to take it out with you etc., etc., etc.


Here are the statistics for emergencies (data analysed over last 12 months):

In every 1,000 reported defects

  • 28 are Emergency

  • 58 are Urgent

  • 914 are Routine

Small by volume, agreed – but on the scale of potential cost to repair – it’s as high as it gets. Plumbing leaks are the number one reportable category, followed by loss of heat, blocked drains, security breach, and finally loss of power.


The worse case scenario is an uncontainable leak in top floor apartment. We don’t need to spell out the potential that has for catastrophic damage.


But here’s the good news. We charge a small registration fee per plot to cover it for emergency calls (out of hours) – this is a standard element in our 2 years After Care package. The weekday team handle ‘in-hours’ emergencies as a key element of the After Care response. Thereafter there is no further cost to handle unless we receive a call from an occupant out of hours. This triggers a small handling fee but again, that is all. Your only potential to incur higher charges is if you’re nominated contractor fails to accept our call to action i.e., we will determine which of your nominated contractors needs to attend and we expect this to be within 4 hours of receipt of the initial call from the occupant. If they fail to respond or refuse to attend, we will appoint an alternative and clearly the charge for this is passed on to the developer. We find this to be a great way to provide out of hours cover – because you’re not paying for what you don’t need. Registration (which by the way is just £50 per plot for 2 years) is only charged if you’re only buying Out of Hours Emergency cover as a standalone. If you take our standard After Care package – we include it anyway, so nothing extra to pay at that stage!


Let’s imagine that you cover 100 plots at £50 per plot – so that’s £5,000 over 2 years (£6.84 per day) for peace of mind.


Of that, let’s also imagine that each plot (as an average) reports 5 defects each over 2 years – that’s 500 defects, and statistically we know that 2.8% will be emergencies, so that’s 14. We would charge a call handling fee of £25 per emergency – that another £350. A total of £5,350 or £535 per plot £0.73 per plot per day – isn’t that economic peace of mind and responsible behaviour?


What cost is the alternative? Let’s say that of the 14 statistical emergencies the following is true:

  • Uncontainable leaks = 8 plots (Plumber £350 + Damage £2,000) X8 =£18,800

  • Loss of heat = 3 plots (M&E Engineer £350 + Hotel £500) X3 = £2,550

  • Blocked drains = 1.5 plots (Drain engineer £250) = £375

  • Security breach = 1 plot probably get away with no significant penalty

  • Loss of power = 0.5 plots probably get away with no significant penalty

So, we’re looking at a potential risk of £21,725 versus a cover cost of £5,350 (this presumes that your nominated contractors take our calls).


If you want to know more about the After Build Out of Hours service, speak to Mark Fawcitt (Director of Customer Development) on 07342 037810 (markf@afterbuild.com).

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