One of our newest Property Managers, Michael Buchan, took the challenge head-on when he was allocated the luxury seafront apartments in the former Walton-on-the-Naze railway station in his portfolio.
Converted to apartments more than 20 years ago, with some parts of the development now 100-years-old, the older buildings had started to suffer from the effects of the salty sea air and some of the original timber, plaster and render needed repairs and replacement.
Michael, who joined PMS in 2021 after gaining a Masters’ degree in Real Estate, explained: “It was quite daunting and a challenge. This was my first project involving such vast sums of money for a building of this type.
“The building has such character and there is a lovely courtyard and garden area. We wanted to ensure the building received the attention it deserved.”
When Michael took over managing the property, the reserve fund for long-term maintenance stood at close to £70,000, but the recommended work was going to cost more than £100,000. It required a £40,000 collection to get the project underway.
“The development, which includes the former station buildings and ticket office as well as a newer part built when the conversion took place, now needed attention to replace aging timber, repoint brickwork, repair stone windowsills and clean roof areas. Plus, 150m of metal railings needed renovating. “I needed to work collaboratively with the leaseholders, to discuss the requirements and communicate effectively,” Michael said.
“I was pretty straight to the point. We were talking about a big increase in service charge. I received a lot of support from the team at PMS as some specialist renovation works were needed but I was keen to lead the project and to try to involve everyone.”
Michael’s first challenge was to Chair his first AGM and keep discussions on track. Communication was key as the necessary Section 20 consultation took place and the project progressed, despite suffering several delays because of the Covid pandemic.
PMS worked with leaseholders to come up with a flexible payment scheme. With great support from Fenn Wright, the surveyors for the project, and contractors Manilva Contracts, who produced high quality work on time and on budget, the project is now completed and both Michael and the leaseholders are delighted.
“I’m really proud of this project,” Michael said.
“I’ve learnt such a lot. I set out to be very involved and very responsive, answering any questions as quickly as possible. I’ve learnt so much about how to work with contractors and surveyors to make a project run as efficiently as possible.”
PMS director Liam Furr agrees. “Michael has been on a very steep learning curve, but his skill and diligence has seen the building completely renovated. Indeed, Michael was keen to progress this project with minimal intervention from the Senior Team at PMS and Great Eastern Court is now the jewel in the crown of properties overlooking the coast at Walton-on-the-Naze.”
Dennis Mason, Director of Great Eastern Court Management Company Ltd, said residents and directors were now extremely proud of the building.
“Michael has been extremely good, he has been approachable, efficient and communicates very well,” he said.
“Between Michael, Fenn Wright and us directors, the whole project has been a huge success. The development is unrecognisable from how it was, and the residents are extremely happy and proud of how it looks now.
“They are also reassured that, with Michael’s help, we have formulated a five-year building maintenance plan to make sure it stays that way.”
Donald Barber, Associate Partner at Fenn Wright said: “We’ve worked with PMS before and the project went very smoothly and was completed on budget.
“It was easy working with Michael, he’s a good communicator and always ensured the clients’ interests were paramount. Michael really grew into the project, maintaining good communication between ourselves and the residents.”