The number of responses to the survey is very disappointing ...
It is now two weeks since we circulated the email requesting input to our 2018 Community Survey. We have had only 27 responses, from:
11 resident owners
6 non-resident owners
4 tenants managed by the owner
2 other kinds of resident
1 tenant managed by an agency
The three remaining responses are from staff. This is disappointing, to say the least. We have 177 sections, many of which are let out to tenants, and so we need more than 100 responses to be representative of the general view.
We are at risk of making multi-million rand decisions based on information from fewer than 10% of those who will be impacted. And, it is probably YOUR money that we are spending.
Are you now interested? And engaged? Are you asking what those decisions are about? If you have NOT responded to the survey, click the link NOW and tell us what you think - the survey indicates the issues that we wish to deal with in the coming months.
... but the first results are telling a good story
The first survey question was a very general one, and this is the result (so far):
You need to read this chart anti-clockwise starting at the right hand side (18.5% strongly agree), going left over the top (40.7% agree), round to the bottom (37% neutral) and home (just one person strongly disagrees).
Do you agree with this result?
If we do not get a representative sample, should we assume that you don't care, and that trusees have to just do what they think best? If owners (in particular) fail to respond to the survey, can we assume that we have your proxy for the voting at the AGM? Please understand that trustees commit significant personal time and energy to dealing with a wide variety of problems and guiding the management of the building. If those involved with the building choose not to devote ten short minutes to completing the questionnaire, we will be bitterly disappointed.
Impro Plumbers report that the installation of water tanks with a capacity of 7,000 litres is nearly complete. These tanks are replenished from the ground water that has previously been pumped into the drains. This water can be used for flushing toilets and for laundry without further treatment. We are informed that if it is boiled, it is okay to drink.
The supply pipe runs through to a tap in the Main Bin Room, situated around the corner from the goods lift on the ground floor - it is also accessible from the the ground floor garage. Signage will be put up, showing where the Main Bin Room is and where the water tap is within it. Further details are available from Colin Larkan, the building manager, who has managed this project for us.
This will provide a source of water for flushing toilets and other non-potable uses of water. Further information will be provided in due course.
Meet Jose, the new concierge at Mutual Heights
Jose has a job description that includes:
Deal with first contact
Be present in the main entrance in order to be the first point of contact for visitors
Refer to the daily list of expected visitors to verify name and contact information
Record additional information as needed
Clarify the purpose of the visit
Establish what is required in order to fulfil the visit
Deal with casual interest from walk-in visitors
Share knowledge of the building using the resources available
Maintain and share information about local events and facilities (shops, etc)
Receive, display and dispose of notices (using a screen facility?)
Supervise deliveries in the secure store
Direct visitors to apartments via security
Maintain a list of open issues liaising with the management office as needed
Monitor security operations and call for assistance when needed
Facilitate other services
Receive and log courier deliveries
Deal with short term parking
Please take a moment to call in at the main entrance and say hello!
Those with the greatest usage and increases will be contacted and their daily usage WILL be monitored.
This is quite a dramatic increase, all things considered. Owners are STRONGLY requested to make sure that any short-stay visitors fully understand the need to use the least possible volume of water. The latest analysis can be seen here
Next year we will be focusing more on using the web site to register and manage short-stay visitors. The appointment of a concierge has been agreed and he will be taking up the role in December - he will have special responsibility for monitoring and assisting with occasional visitors. Your trustees hope that this will enhance the experience of all those who visit and stay in the building.
The charts are here - have a look and see where you fit into the overall pattern of usage
Of course, additional work comes up regularly so this has actually been a struggle against a continuing tide of work to be done. Do remember that if you are a registered user (that is, you are an owner or an agent to whom access rights have been ceded) you can REQUEST maintenance using the web site. You will also find lists of outstanding and resolved maintenance items using the menus above.
A few initial problems with the new web site have been addressed, and owners are beginning to add details of the people that they wish to have access to their apartments. Don't forget that it is a requirement of our Conduct Rules and of the South African Sectional Title Management Act that anyone having occupation of a section must be registered. It may also be convenient to include those in your family, and others who you wish to have access to the building.
When the concierge is appointed and fully functional, the benefits of investing a little time in registering your visitors will become more significant. The concierge will have access to the list and will be able to welcome new arrivals, and avoid the chore of signing them in.
One apartment has INCREASED by more than 9 kilo litres - that is more than 100 person-days (based on the 87 litre daily allowance).
Another has DECREASED by almost 10 kilo litres (that is more than 110 person-days).
We will be writing to owners of the apartments with the greatest changes (which MIGHT be for very good reasons of course).
Here are the charts for the trend, according to the volume of usage and the proportion used by the 'Top Ten':
[Data for these charts is kindly provided by AMI]
There was an initial problem with sections that had no people associated with them. In that case there was no data, and the listing ('Manage your people') did not provide the facility to 'Add' more people. We have been right through the data and virtually all sections will now list at least one entry. The listing should look something like this:
Please tell us of any further problems and suggestions. Thank you.
The charts are here - have a look and see where you fit into the overall pattern of usage
Access control and short-stay visitor registration. The new web site offers new facilities. A concierge service next year? Residents moving over to optical fibre but fibre is upsetting our DSTV. Smart water meters promise real-time water usage data. Insurance costs have risen. Short-term letting is classified as a business. We are going to manage contractors much more carefully.
As owners and residents will be aware, we now have wireless internet-connected water meters in the Mutual Building. As well as assisting the management team to organise billing based on actual use, there is now the possibility to access water usage data in ‘near real time’.
Short-stay visitors and others who are only in the building for a short time will be able to be billed for actual usage, or cautioned about excessive usage, even if they are only in residence for a few days. Alarm thresholds will be able to be set, and problems will be able to be addressed promptly. The smartphone app will link to the web, and the wall-mounted display communicates with your meter ‘locally’, by wireless (it will need power). Applied Metering (the company operating the system) hopes to have these options available before the end of the year. In order to cover the ongoing costs of running this system there has to be a monthly ‘per-meter-point fee’ and based on the economies of scale associated with our building, they have agreed to offer a 33% discount on the standard monthly cost.
Pamphlets with information about the fibre services are now being distributed around the building but you may be away and you may want to see a simple range of service offerings. The information provided to us in NOVEMBER 2016 can be seen here.
You are advised to approach the ISPprovider(s) of your choice DIRECTLY for up-to-date information, and for details of installation charges and any special get-you-started offers that they may have.
Watch out for details in your mail box, and on the web site. And remember that if you want DSTV over the fibre backbone that will involve an additional box to unravel and feed the signal into your decoder. More information here as soon as it is available, but there is some information on the Octotel web site
As soon as we have clear information about how to get connected, and when, we will let you know. Our apologies for the delay.
We considered a number of other options: the building already has network cabling to every apartment and it might have been possible to use the old cables to pull the new fibre through the conduits; alternatively, it might have been possible to bring the fibre to the boxes where the cables are connected, to use the final length of cable as the 'last few metres' of connection. That would have brought the fibre to your existing network connection point.
By bringing the fibre all the way to your sections things are simplified. There will be no disruption to residents using the existing network and where the routing goes from there is up to you.
As previously advised, the fibre installation from Octotel provides you with a choice of more than 12 internet service providers - names you will already recognise (Mweb, RSAWeb, WebAfrica, Afrihost and Vox Telecom (just to mention a few). There may be an additional once-off charge based on the arrangements with the ISP to install all the way through to your new router.
More details will follow soon.
And don't forget, there is a DSTV option coming, as well ... !
Last year we ran a survey to elicit opinion on what is needed in our web site, and whether we would not be better off if we just used Facebook. By my quick count, there were 20 in favour of a custom web site and only 7 in favour of using Facebook. Given the concern for additional information and the need to tighten up on the recording of who is actually living in the building, it was decided to develop a database-driven web site. What you are reading now is presented in this way. You are not reading a news item, you are reading a stream of data from a database. In parallel, just behind our own interest in gaining fibre access to the internet, the local industry has swung into motion and we are imminently beginning that installation. As reported in Newsletter 38, the essential 'short' story is: There is no cost to the Body Corporate or owners for the installation of the fibre infrastructure. There is a choice of more than 12 Internet Service Providers (MWeb, RSAWeb, WebAfrica and so on), on 12-month contracts (at no installation cost in some cases) or on monthly contracts (with a variable cost for the actual connection and for a new router). You will need to review the details and decide about your choices. There is no cost to the Body Corporate or owners for the installation of the fibre infrastructure; usage will incur charges to users in a similar way to ADSL services.
- There is a choice of more than 12 Internet Service Providers (MWeb, RSAWeb, WebAfrica and so on), on 12-month contracts (at no installation cost in some cases) or on monthly contracts (with a variable cost for the actual connection and for a new router). You will need to review the details and decide about your choices.
- If you just want Internet access, then the service will be delivered to your existing network access point in your apartment (not over your telephone line, as might be the case if you have a Telkom ADSL service).
- If you want the additional DSTV service (the one that needs FOUR co-axial cables!) then the fibre will be brought directly to your section, and a DSTV connection box as well as a router will be provided. This will also be at a reasonable cost.
This fibre installation promises data access at costs comparable to ADSL, but five to ten times faster and more reliable, without 'shaping' or 'throttling'. This is what was asked for in our survey earlier in the year. If you just want Internet access, then the service will be delivered to your existing network access point in your apartment (not over your telephone line, as might be the case if you have a Telkom ADSL service).
If you want the additional DSTV service (the one that needs FOUR co-axial cables!) then the fibre will be brought directly to your section, and a DSTV connection box as well as a router will be provided. This will also be at a reasonable cost.
Here is an update: I wrote to our HWC contact, explaining that that it is now at least three months since we were advised that approval for remedial works on the Mutual Building would take just two or three weeks. I explained that we are now deeply concerned about the delays. What we are seeking permission to do is the re-sealing of the joints between the granite blocks on the exterior and the re-sealing of the window-granite junctions. In this process we have consulted widely with qualified experts in all disciplines, to ensure that what we intend to do is the best possible solution to the problem, given all the constraints. (This was all done in parallel with the extended legal that ? happily ? got us to the High Court in November 2015 and led to a settlement with Old Mutual). We had fully expected to have completed much if not most of the work by now. Because of the delay in gaining heritage approval, the schedule of work is now compromised and will certainly lead to additional (and otherwise avoidable) damage to the building when winter returns. There is no way that the work can be completed by April-May.
Last updated: 18 July 2018
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