St George’s Fields Notice Board
Electrical Infrastructure Renewal Work at St George’s Fields
What is the background to the need for renewal of the electrical infrastructure?
The Board commissions an asset management review (carried out by Arup) approximately once every three years. The review is a fundamental tool in planning long-term major capital expenditure at SGF. Arup recommends strongly that the electrical infrastructure is at an age where renewal is needed and indicated that such work might cost about £750,000.
The Board decided to commission a more detailed report from MHBC, who have an electrical engineering background, to establish a more accurate estimate of the cost of renewing the electrical infrastructure, and crucially to find out where the boundaries of responsibility lay between SGF and UK Power Networks (UKPN). UKPN came to the Estate and it was established in the report that the cost of renewal is entirely the responsibility of SGF. It also says that although there is no indication that there will be a failure of the current system in the immediate future it is prudent to plan to avoid the increasing likelihood of such a failure.
What will be the cost of the renewal work and how will it be paid for?
MHBC estimates that the total cost of the work including VAT and contingencies will be approaching £1,000,000. The Board recommends that the cost of this work be paid for out of reserves. We have built up high levels of reserves to pay for just this kind of eventuality.
When will the work be carried out?
The work will take approximately 35 weeks and it is proposed to carry out the work between the beginning of March 2019 and the end of October 2019. The coldest winter months are being avoided because there will be short periods when apartments will lose all power.
What will the effects of the work be on shareholders?
Cables running from switch rooms located in the garage will need to be replaced. Within blocks most of these cables run through under floor containment trays or in voids at ceiling height. Replacing the cables will of course lead to a level of disruption. Crucially, there will be three separate periods each of up to 4 to 5 hours when an individual apartment will have no electricity supply when power is disconnected, then connected to a temporary supply board, and then finally connected to the new supply system. Therefore, it is proposed to carry out the work to avoid the coldest months. It may be possible to have the scheduled power outages contained to the mornings when the underfloor heating would not be on in any event.
Could the work be phased over some years to spread the costs?
The Board did consider in depth the possibility of carrying the work out over several years. There is a saving in doing the work as one exercise. It is also very difficult to justify upgrading one part of the estate before another with shareholders rightly demanding to know why their block is at the back of the queue.
What would be the effect of carrying out the electrical infrastructure renewal work on the Cayford project (to upgrade the appearance of the estate)?
It was reported at the AGM that any decision on Cayford was dependent on the cost of the electrical work. Sadly, there will need to be a postponement of the Cayford project until there is some recovery in the reserves. In addition, management could not be expected to oversee two major projects at the same time and with yet further disruption. The Board is committed to the Cayford proposals in the long-term given the strong shareholder support for such improvements once it is practical and financially viable to do so.
What are the next steps?
The Board will now commission the preparation of a schedule and programme of works to obtain competitive tenders. Then there will need to be the usual robust consultation with leaseholders as required under statutory legislation.
How may I comment on this document or ask questions about it?
This can be done in writing or by email through the estate office and we would ask that you make any comments by 1st August 2018. There is further information below for interested shareholders which goes into technical depth about the nature of the proposed works.
What are the Works proposed?
At underground level there are several sub stations. These sub stations are locked and are UKPN property.
Immediately adjacent are the switch rooms and these switch rooms convert the high voltage supply into a lower voltage then distribute the power from the feeder panels up to the individual apartments. The switch rooms, in the main, distribute power to 1 or 2 blocks.
Depending on whether it is a Rise block, or a Step block then things become a little more complicated. The cable runs that feed the blocks are either hidden under floor in containment trays or in voids at ceiling height. It is these cables that need to be replaced along with the various distribution boards peppered around the Estate. The ground floor maisonettes and some ground floor Rise apartments are served from distribution boards in the garage.
To undertake these works to the whole of the Estate will likely take approximately 35 weeks at a preliminary total cost, including VAT and contingencies, of £1,000,000.
The works would be undertaken in such a fashion that leaseholders’ apartments should not be without power for overly lengthy periods. There will be specific planned and notified times when power will be lost but this will be minimised to 4 to 5 hour periods and if works are undertaken then they will commence early spring to early autumn when the dependency on heating will be not be so great.
It is expected to achieve this by providing a temporary supply run at high level or in locked cupboards.
The old supply will be disconnected and the apartment connected to a temporary supply board.
The old cables are then removed, and the new cabling is run through the same cable runs as present.
Once this is tested and confirmed correct then the apartments will be disconnected from the temporary supply and connected to the new supply.
All the temporary supplies and their temporary containment areas will then be removed and any decorative making good undertaken.
The supply for the fifth and sixth floor apartments in the Step blocks is in the ceiling voids in the third floor corridors and these areas will be ‘bird caged’ so people can pass underneath, and contractors can work overhead.
St George’s Fields
Procedure for leaks
Leaks from one apartment’s plumbing arrangements into another apartment or to the common parts can on occasion be quite damaging.
There is a regulation contained in the fifth schedule that intends to ensure leaseholders have their water systems inspected by a competent person annually and any defects found made good, but it may be that even by undertaking this annual check it will not always prevent leaks occurring.
The information handbook at pages 11-12 tells leaseholders the procedure and what to do in such an emergency.
When a leak occurs into your flat or you spot one occurring into the common parts, and the Estate Office is open, please let us know. If we hold the keys to the flat and have the permission of the owner, we can enter to turn off the stop cock which will stop the leak pending the leaseholder repairing the fault.
If a leak occurs in an out-of-hours situation, then the steps you must undertake are also contained in the handbook at pages 11-12. Please also email the office to let us know if a leak occurs in an out-of-hours situation.
Leaseholders can help protect each other by ensuring that the office has a complete and up to date, working set of keys to your apartment and instructions to any additional security measures you may have installed. If you have not given the office a set of keys, then please reconsider this decision.
If you are relying on the Estate Office to provide any contractors with keys to your flat for works you wish to undertake, please impress upon your contractor the importance of returning the keys at the end of each day.
A recent incident of a contractor holding onto keys overnight meant that the office did not have access to turn off a stop cock that could have prevented a leak spreading and getting worse.
Please click this link to view the St George’s Fields Renovation Study Report:
In my letter of 14th September, I informed you that the Board had created a brief for design architects to rejuvenate and modernise the estate and I said that Cayford Design, the architects we had appointed, were keen to solicit the opinions of shareholders by way of a questionnaire.
The Board and Management are very grateful to those shareholders – over 70 in number – who completed the questionnaire that I attached to my letter. Both Cayford and the Board took careful account of the responses in moving to the next stage which has been the preparation by Cayford of a Renovation Study Report designed to set out the possibilities for a coherent plan for future work on the estate.
Having considered the Report, the Board are excited by it and wish to share it with you all in the hope that you will share their enthusiasm. As the document runs to some 16 pages clicking the link will take you to an online version. If you would prefer a printed copy then please come to the estate office to collect one or ask us to post one to you.
As I explained in my letter of 14th September the reason for the appointment of design consultants is with a view to ensuring that there is a cohesive long-term plan for the overall “look and feel” of the estate. The attached report touches on all aspects of the estate and the possibilities for improvement. It does not go into any detail but provides a “roadmap” of how to proceed.
The next task for the Board will be to work out an order of priority with a view, initially, to identifying two or three projects on which more detailed design work should be undertaken. In the meantime, I would like to reassure you that:
- the Board remains determined to manage our budgets sensibly and avoid any significant impact on the service charge with the prudent management of your money.
- we will consult you before committing to any project(s).
I should make it clear that the attached report is sent to you to keep you informed and not by way of formal consultation. However, if you have any immediate thoughts or ideas you are of course welcome to send me an email or note of your observations.
St George’s Fields