A preferred supplier, a tradesperson from a directory or a mate of a mate: who would you choose to carry out work on a property? It’s a question strata and body corporate committees often face because one of their key responsibilities is to authorise for work to be done on, or to, the common property. Ultimately, the choice over which contractor to hire for property maintenance is the committee’s so it’s important you know the reasons why we recommend using a Whittles’ preferred supplier – and what can go wrong if you don’t.
Why have a preferred suppliers list?
Before we get into the reasons for using preferred suppliers, let’s look at why Whittles has a list in the first place. It is essentially designed to minimise risk. Having a list of preferred suppliers gives you, and us, comfort in the knowledge that all our contractors have the required skills, qualifications, workplace safety knowledge, code of conduct awareness, licenses and insurances to efficiently and professionally undertake the work they’re asked to do. It’s important to remember the risk of poor quality work, or other issues, can be just as high for minor jobs as it can for major works. Jobs that seem simple at the start are often more complex than first thought, which is why unskilled or underqualified contractors can pose just as much risk for minor or major works.
What are the benefits of using a preferred supplier?
You’re not obliged to use Whittles’ preferred suppliers but we recommend it for these six reasons:
1. Suitability: The contractors on our preferred supplier list have provided all the necessary information and documentation to Whittles to demonstrate they have the ability and qualifications to complete the work required.
2. Accountability: We know the contractors and the quality of work they can produce. In South Australia, Whittles also has Building Works Managers who can inspect the work that’s carried out against the original scope of works and sign off on completion before the invoice is paid. If a non-preferred contractor carries out the job, and the quality of work falls short of the committee’s expectations, there may be no recourse, or a long process involved, to have it corrected.
3. Confidence: Using preferred suppliers safeguards committees from unqualified, unskilled or unlicensed tradespeople. Whittles also has a Building Works Manager who undertakes random audits on existing contractors, and all new contractors, on the preferred suppliers list each month.
4. Convenience: The decision to appoint a preferred supplier takes the pressure off committee members having to arrange and oversee the work. Choosing a non-preferred contractor can open the committee up to risks because members may not have the time, or the building knowledge, to properly manage the job. A lack of building experience also increases the risk of a committee being swayed by a contractor offering a cheaper price and could compromise the quality of the work.
5. Experience: The contractors on our preferred supplier list are more likely to understand strata and community title guidelines so they can delineate where committee and owner responsibilities lie. The risk with using a non-preferred contractor is that they may not be as familiar with all the requirements and end up doing work outside the committee’s responsibility which can create issues around responsibility for payment of the work.
6. Security: Using a preferred supplier is your best protection from scammers. We know of one case where a committee engaged an unknown contractor to complete some work and when the $7,000 bill was paid, a third party intercepted the emailed invoice, changed the bank details and the money ended up being transferred to the scammer’s account. Unfortunately, the committee wasn’t able to get the money back from the scammer and was obligated to pay the contractor. This means the committee paid $14,000 instead of $7,000 making it an expensive lesson to learn. If the contractor was on the preferred suppliers list, the account details would be in our system and the false details would prevent the unauthorised account from being used.
How is a preferred supplier selected?
Evidence is everything. We make sure all our preferred suppliers provide details about the work they are qualified, or licensed, to undertake. We also ask each contractor to provide references to demonstrate they can do what they say. We request copies of their licences and qualifications and we ask for copies of all the relevant insurances they have to protect them, the committee, the residents who live at the property and the wider community. Both Whittles and our preferred suppliers must have a commitment to work, health and safety.
What trades are included on a preferred supplier list?
Committees access a range of services from our preferred suppliers list. Service providers include plumbers, painters, electricians, consultants, builders, gardeners, caretakers, locksmiths, tree loppers, pool services, fencing and gate contractors, refrigeration mechanics and air conditioning trades.
What’s the process for using a preferred supplier if work needs to be done?
It depends if it’s an emergency or planned works.
If it’s an emergency, a property owner can call Whittles to alert them to the problem and we will issue a work order to a contractor. We operate a 24/7 emergency line on 1300 888 275 so, if a problem occurs on the weekend or at night, owners can call our after hours service and we will have a contractor attend as soon as possible. The after hours emergency service is staffed by our own employees which means they know the processes, and the contractors needed, and can determine if the issue requires immediate attention or can wait until the next business day. Our ability to establish if a situation is a real emergency, or not, can save committees having to pay expensive after hours call out fees.
If the work is not an emergency and related to planned maintenance, such as painting, it would generally be discussed and agreed at a general or committee meeting. If the resolution is to proceed with the work, the committee will authorise Whittles to arrange for the work order to be issued to the contractor.
Like to know more about engaging our preferred suppliers to help maintain a property? Contact your closest Whittles branch and speak with a member of our team.