There are lots of good reasons for having an elevator maintenance contract for your condo. Elevators are mechanical devices that require regular inspections, adjustments, lubrications, and parts replacement. You also want to ensure the elevator is reliable, safe, and that costs are managed. In New Brunswick, the Department of Public Safety also weights in to ensure elevators meet their code of standards for operation. They require proof of regular maintenance by a licensed contractor who performs standard safety tests. And there is evidence that preventative maintenance can reduce costs, reduce downtime, and lengthen the life of an elevator.
In the industry there are a variety of elevator maintenance contracts to choose from. Most are available through the original equipment manufacturer. OEMs claim they have ready access to parts and train their licensed personnel on the specifics of their elevator’s operating system. This may be true, but in New Brunswick, they are often the only choice in elevator maintenance.
So, how do you choose which elevator contract is what your condo needs?
- Full Maintenance contracts provides both preventative maintenance on a set schedule, as well as, emergency service should an elevator break down. This type of contract is easier to budget, provides less downtime, but costs more.
- Partial Maintenance (Parts, Oil, and Grease) contracts cover just the preventative maintenance intended to keep an elevator in good working order. This type of contract may be all that is needed for the first 8 – 10 years, meets the needs for Public Safety requirements, and can save your condo money. But additional costs for overtime service calls, could go over budget.
Costs may be the most important criteria. You also need to factor in the age of your elevator and what preventative maintenance has been in place. But more importantly, you need to understand what is included in each type of contract and what you will be paying extra for. Understanding what is covered is not easy for most condo boards. You really need to ask specific questions of the service provider:
- If someone gets stuck, who pays for the service call?
- When does overtime apply under the contract?
- What are the differences between overtime trouble calls and overtime repairs?
- Is travel time a consideration because of location or union agreement?
- What is the response time for a trapped passenger?
- What is the availability of spare parts?
Elevator maintenance contracts use terminology that is industry-specific and not always clear for most condo board members. However, the condo board members are ultimately responsible. So it is important to familiarize yourself with the contract, as best you can.
- Know what your costs are – what is the hourly labour rate, and what are the overtime rates.
- Price versus flexibility – sometimes longer-term contracts are are lower cost, but not always.
- Most contracts are subdivided into material costs and labour costs. Typically 20% for materials and 80% for labour. As industry labour rates increase, so can contact pricing.
Service providers prefer longer term contracts. From their perspective, if they monitor and service an elevator, they can better manage their costs. But, condos need to review their By-law under “Powers of the Corporation”. The maximum length of a contract is identified here. So any contract undertaken by the Board needs to adhere to the limitations stated in the By-law. However, contract limitations, do not disallow automatic renewals when an existing contract runs out. A contract can be renewed for a period that does not exceed the limits in the By-law. But, you should review the conditions, terms, and costs involved. Often if you do not ask, contracts will renew at above-average rates. Keeping a close eye on rates, discounts, and conditions can save your condo. And remember, with Board Members changing, it’s important to ensure that a contract doesn’t keep renewing forever, without anyone reviewing it.
Keep a log containing all costs and records of service. This will be invaluable for making an informed decision about which service plan you need, which service provider to choose, and budgeting. And track response times – which should also be factored in to your evaluation of the contract.
For more information on elevator maintenance contracts, contact Condo-Link Services. We can provide a seminar on elevator maintenance contracts, provide tips on how to avoid costly service calls, explain the requirements for complying with Public Safety standards, and help you determine what type of elevator maintenance contract your condo needs.