Tuesday 06 Jun 2023
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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on August 22, 2022 - August 28, 2022

When visiting Hijauan Kiara in Mont’Kiara, the first thing that grabs your attention is the amount of greenery and trees the property has. The canopy that casts a welcome shade along the walkway by the swimming pool is a welcome respite from the hot sun.

Developed by Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd and completed in 2008, Hijauan Kiara is a Silver award winner under the 10 Years and Above Multiple-owned Strata Residential category.

The condominium offers 188 units spread across seven blocks with built-ups from 2,090 to 3,732 sq ft. There are three blocks of 24, 26 and 29 storeys named Angelica, Bergamot and Chamomile res-

pectively, and four low-rise blocks of 12, 10, 8 and 6 storeys, named Dandelion, Eucalyptus, Frangipani and Geranium respectively.

The development is in a quiet location that is close to amenities and highways such as the Penchala Link and Sprint Highway. For management corporation chairman Desmond Yeap, his decision to move to Hijauan Kiara in 2011 was facilitated by his children having flown the nest and finding a place within surroundings he is familiar with.

“Why I chose to live here is because it is low density, which translates to more privacy and tranquility. Also, it is one of the few condos with a private lift lobby. There are only two units per floor and a lot of greenery. It is like an oasis,” says Yeap with a smile.

The property is strategically located a short distance from the main thoroughfare of Jalan Kiara on Jalan Kiara 5. It is close to Gardens International School and the Verve Shops, which offer various dining options and a Jaya Grocer. The property has several facilities such as an outdoor gym, children’s playground, hot and cold spa pools, salt chlorinated pools, and a meditation garden.

The development has seven blocks that share facilities like salt chlorinated pools and hot and cold spa pools, along with plenty of plant-filled spaces to reflect and relax in (Photo by Mohd Shahrin Yahya/ The Edge)

In 2019, Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) Sdn Bhd (HBMK) came onboard and, after careful study, realised it had to rectify two key problems.

“We noticed that some of the installations, some of the M&E (mechanical and electrical services) equipment were falling apart. For example, the firefighting system wasn’t working properly,” says HBMK associate director Jessie Koh.

“When we came in, we did a building condition report and listed out the items that were faulty. Our team looked into these items and then we did [the repairs] based on priority. We did a very detailed budget and staggered the repairs. For Hijauan Kiara, we had some budget constraints so we could not do everything at one go. So, from the budget, we rectified the firefighting system.

“Apart from that, Hijauan Kiara didn’t have a registered chargeman. This is important because it was stipulated in the regulations that you need a chargeman registered to the building. We focused a lot on compliance as well as safety and security.”

The chargeman is registered with the Energy Commission. If this is not done and there is a conviction, then a penalty can be imposed in the form of a fine, stipulated in the Electricity Supply Act 1990 as “not exceeding RM25,000 and a further fine not exceeding RM1,000 for every day or part of a day during which the offence continues after conviction”.

Koh explains that future planned activities include repainting the buildings and changing the playground, among others.

Since HBMK took over the management of the property, Yeap has noticed improvements to its care, notwithstanding the pandemic which put a halt to preventive measures and rectification of the 14-year-old structures.

“It is more systematic, and the standard operating procedures are there. What has to be done managing any company — or in this case, property — needs procedures, systems ... everything must be there. It is a matter of how you implement and manage them correctly,” he says.

Koh also highlights that on taking over the property, one of the elements the HBMK team had to work around was the lack of some documentation. However, they are working hard to resolve that situation so that it will be easier to map out the care of the property.

From left: Koh, Yeap and Kang. They believe good systems and processes are necessary for a well-maintained property. (Photo by Mohd Shahrin Yahya/ The Edge)

Many aspects to manage

Unlike a single tower or even two, Hijauan Kiara’s seven blocks require a solid plan to ensure each is well maintained.

“At Henry Butcher, we have a checklist in place called the Preventive Maintenance Checklist — we have it for all the blocks, and it will be scheduled. The checklist guides us on which month we are to attend to which block,” says Koh.

For other repairs or issues that arise outside of the scheduled maintenance, HBMK building manager Crystal Kang, who is on-site daily, reveals that there are personnel on hand to attend to those matters.

“We have maintenance people who do ad hoc maintenance work. On top of that, we have cleaners and we work closely with our service providers. When they are doing their work, they can highlight to us what they saw and what needs attending to.

“Security guards also have a checklist that they have to fill in daily in terms of lighting and what they have noticed, and then report to us,” she says. A circular is sent out to keep residents up to date if any work is being done outside of the normal scheduled activities, she adds.

Besides preventive maintenance and checks, Hijauan Kiara’s multitude of plants, which include mature trees, and facilities like salt chlorinated pools require specialists. To ensure costs are kept at a serviceable rate, HBMK depends on its network for service providers.

“We are leveraging our portfolio of managed properties. We have properties that have salt chlorinated pools, and we also have sites that require arborists. We have a panel of service providers that we work and maintain a good rapport with so they can give us a reasonable price for their services,” says Koh.

“Apart from that, we also have another checklist so we can anticipate some of the things that are going to fall apart. With that, we try to control the cost, instead of waiting for things to get worse which will become expensive.”

Yeap acknowledges that while cost increases are inevitable, it is how you manage them that is paramount.

“The important thing is residents are aware of what you [the property managers] are doing. If I’m paying RM1, am I getting RM1 of service? If residents can see that, then the cost isn’t a big factor.

Yeap and Koh (third and fourth from left) with (from left) The Edge Malaysia editor-in-chief Kathy Fong, editor emeritus and the awards’ chief judge Au Foong Yee, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat and City & Country editor E Jacqui Chan (Photo by Low Yen Yeing/ The Edge)

“Why do people buy branded goods? It is because they expect something better. At the end of the day, cost increases, you cannot run away from that, but if I can get the right service, the right quality, I would not complain,” he says.

Satisfaction with HBMK’s management is reflected in its collection, which is at 99.88%. Furthermore, the debtor ageing amount has also improved, dropping from RM237,000 in 2017 to around RM30,500 in 2022.

When queried what exactly makes the residents want to pay the service charges, Yeap highlights one key aspect.

“The important thing is how fast you respond to complaints. Any complaint made, it is how fast you attend to the problem, are you serious in attending to the complaint, and at the end of the day, am I satisfied with what is done,” he says.

Currently, the mode of payment of charges and the sinking fund is via online transfer and cheque. About 80% of residents pay online, while a small number still pay by cheque. Payment can also be made via QR Pay, Boost and Touch ’n Go. The office does not accept cash payment.

The service charges are done by per share unit, which is calculated in per sq m. Hence, a resident is charged based on measures that include his or her unit along with accessory parcels, such as parking bays.

Technology matters

Besides the use of online transfers, other forms of technology such as JaGaApp have helped the management liaise with residents more efficiently.

“We have JaGaApp, which has increased the efficiency in communicating with the residents. We can update them on notices instantly in case of any emergency on their cellphone. They can submit feedback on the app and we can update them on the progress. We can resolve issues in a more efficient way,” says Kang, who adds that the app also allows pre-registration of guests.

At present, only 100 units out of 188 are on the app, which is a vast improvement from the outset. Due to the low participation rate, the management embarked on an education exercise, which has borne fruit, to help residents understand the benefits of using the app.

Those not on the app receive notices via traditional methods such as calls, emails or bulletin boards.

Koh reveals that HBMK is designing its own mobile app that will help them link directly to service providers to resolve an issue and also be able to upload the status or progress of the matter. There is even a rating option. However, the app is still in the testing stages.

Within a short span of time, despite the pandemic and lockdowns, the property managers of Hijauan Kiara have established trust with residents. This has enabled both parties to move forward in putting down plans to deal with pending matters in an orderly and timely fashion.

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