Why are strata managers drawn to sausage factory engineering reports or narratives?


As a facilitator of defects, I get to see a lot of engineering reports. Make no mistake; it’s easy to recognise when you’re dealing with an expert report or an organised technical narrative/report. Yet, for some reason, I have observed strata managers are attracted to these narratives. I am interested in digging deeper into why strata managers seem drawn to this style of reporting? I believe the answer is quite simple.

Engineering “sausage factories” produce reports designed to impress strata managers. They are frequently image-heavy and absolute. Unfortunately, in my experience, its fundamental content reads more like a narrative, with conclusions made without hard evidence of their analysis. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, battle them with airy fairy visuals. My particular favourite is the engineering reports with a junior engineer waving a moisture meter while offering no indication of how they arrived at their conclusions only to advise that they recommend remediation.

Strata Managers risk protection for their business is understandably their priority; there is no judgement for that. The strata industry knows if we fast forward six months, angry residents who never participated or attended any of these meetings, are suddenly creating a racket and banging down the doors of their strata manager because they are paying more levies. The ultimate strata manager risk protection is to wave a lengthy fluffy report full of absolutes and imagery that the owners consented to pursue. The more absolute the report, the more risk mitigation where nothing points back to the strata manager who recommended the sausage factory engineering.

Unfortunately, this is not always how defect investigation and remediation should work, and suddenly the owners corporation finds it’s door wide open for variations, it’s not ideal.

Our industry-leading “expert” structural engineers put a higher value on the bigger picture, and absolute is seldom part of their reporting until evidence from investigations are concluded. The problem the engineering experts are facing is that the strata management industry have gotten very used to these sausage factory deliverables with reporting and they like it. The bigger picture processes of experts’ engineers are not absolute enough for strata managers and owners corporations. So next time that a strata manager wants a structural engineering report for a building, they go ahead and call on the sausage factories to tie everything into a nice package they can sell to owners corporation.

So for the strata management industry, they may see this article and not feel there is a problem, everyone is acting within the bounds of their duties, they are professional with their approach, and they like the sausage factory companies. For Grays Rescue Building Management, evaluating the success of the sausage factory engineering companies during litigation and how often their reports are struck off is how I sell it to owners corporations, As a defect facilitator, that’s my role.

Let’s start selling these figures to the clients before selecting our experts. If strata managers took this approach, sausage factory engineering may lift their game, and owners corporations would be in better hands with vital engineering direction.

Holding engineers accountable for their deliverables is part of Grays Rescues mode of operation. We write deliverables for engineers before their engagement, We think this is the way forward. Protecting owners corporations best interests with deliverables and clauses that reduces conflict, is explicit in how an engineer must deliver for the client. Interesting strata management companies are coming on board and engaging Grays Rescue to write deliverables for their engineer’s projects they are managing. It’s a changing industry, and we are proud to be part of the changes occurring.

Grays Rescue Building Management welcomes responses from our industry and engineers.

Author – Chris Gray

Author: Chris Gray