Managing a portfolio of housing stock has never been an easy task.
A task made that much harder when people assume that buildings, by and large, look after themselves and also make the dangerous assumption that the information held about those properties is bang up to date. After all, they are making investment grade decisions using the data – so it must be okay. Right?
Well, what if it’s not? What if there are thousands of opportunities to leverage grant funding. Millions to be saved by optimising your budget and years to be knocked off your to-do list by exploiting technology?
Since 2002 we have been working in the field of housing stock condition surveys. Not the familiar traditional way, but always by using technology. Firstly, via infrared surveys (hence the IRT of our name) and latterly via software analysis.
Let us explore the options on the table for the already thinly stretched, housing stock manager (apologies for missing out the variety of titles).
The two sides of housing stock management
On one hand the job is simple. Just make sure the buildings are fit for purpose. Keep the tenants happy and ensure the rent flows in on time without complaint. (I said simple didn’t I?) .
The above is hard enough, but consider the other hand – improve the value of the assets, reduce the spend on maintenance, ensure legislative compliance – oh and by the way, we just merged and here are another 10,000 homes to look after.
It’s daunting. Overwhelming even.
Housing stock management without trusted data
In 2010-2012 we surveyed 60,000 homes throughout Scotland for 83 separate housing associations and the findings were startling. Firstly, the information the Housing Associations (HA) knew about their stock was varied. Some knew almost everything, others very little, but all had blanks in their data we had to populate with rational assumptions.
Secondly, where a client did provide data such as a SAP or EPC rating from an outsourced supplier, invariably they were inaccurate.
The most revealing aspect of the survey for us was the actions taken. As even though we delivered compelling information and analysis on a spreadsheet, the clients still found it difficult to interpret and action.
Easy to use software for better housing stock management
We love our clients. We love them to bits. Their feedback has led us to create TheHouseSurvey.co.uk. Here they can analysis their stock at the click of a button. Find the best, the worst, the ones they can make the biggest difference to and the ones that qualify for grants. All mapped into Google and colour co-ordinated.
If you are reading this and are a housing stock manager, we would like to hear from you. We can help you meet your targets and take a load off your shoulders. We know your desk is creaking under the workload and we know the variables keeping changing. Just keeping up to date with legislation is a nightmare, let alone getting round to actually doing a retrofit to improve the stock.
What we must all remember in the sector of course is that we are walking a tightrope in two tonne shoes. Social requirements on one side, commercial reality on the other. Let’s not lose sight of why HA’s were formed in the first instance – that need hasn’t gone away. Yes “times they are a changin’” but people will always need a roof over their head, that’s the whole point. But as long as we live in a capitalist society, money will always inform the decision making process.
Our mission at IRT surveys is to align those needs, help you leverage funding, focus on quick wins and help do our part in getting people out of fuel poverty. All whilst improving the built environment for future generations.
We hear a variety of scenarios in the sector: Providers in Scotland are focused on the social impact and meeting their EESSH obligations whilst south of the border the focus is far more commercially oriented. In fact one client said saving energy for their tenants was altruistic – a philanthropic win they weren’t willing to invest in. They will remain nameless here, but it’s a bit of a short sighting view that doesn’t bode well for a long term sustainable portfolio.
Efficient stock is valuable stock.
Tenants spending less on energy means they can more readily afford the rent.
Rent on time, means a more stable company.
Running a viable Housing Association is harder than it once was. There are affordable and easy-to-use tools which can help you with your housing stock management challenges. Click on the button below to discuss them and get your free, non-obligation quote.