All buildings, whether hotels, retail stores, hospitals, universities, commercial real estate buildings, apartment buildings, condominium associations, malls, or other types, have an elevator service contract. At least they should all have one. An elevator maintenance service contract gives buildings a sense of comfort that their elevators, escalators, or lifts will be correctly serviced by the elevator service provider that holds the contract.
However, no standard elevator maintenance service contract exists between different service providers. There are all types. Some are one page, some are thirty pages, some have readable terms, and some are more difficult to decipher. Most of these contracts are similar in some aspects although different building types have different requirements for operations.
An elevator service contract is contracted with a licensed elevator contractor, either union or non-union, depending on the location of the building. It is incumbent upon the building owner or property manager to engage in an elevator service contract to ensure the elevators are properly serviced. The building will usually gather numerous bids from multiple elevator service providers. They will invite the bidders to view the building’s elevators, escalators, and/or lifts. This is an important step so the service providers can understand the shape of the elevators. Once the service contracts are in hand, the building must decide which service provider to use.
The service contract will have a scope of work, including multiple terms and conditions that state the area of work that falls under the contract. Because service contracts vary, it is challenging for the owner or manager to compare the bids they receive. The arrangements can be quite different and interpreting them takes a lot of work, elevator knowledge, and legal review.
Understanding what is in the contract, especially the terms and what is included and not included in coverage, the frequency of preventative maintenance, and the type of cure clause, is essential. The building usually relies on the elevator service provider salesperson to explain the contract. The building needs to know if the service provider can service the elevators if parts are available for their equipment, and if they are covered. Does the contract exclude anything that the building should be aware of? This is an unknown for most buildings.
For instance, if it says door equipment is included in the coverage of the contract, what does that mean? Is the entire door covered and all the door equipment on the door? Are these the door assemblies? What exactly is covered? It is difficult for someone not in the elevator industry to know the different parts and components of the elevator system. It is also critical to clarify the meaning of phrases such as “systematically and periodically” or at the “discretion of the service provider.”
The building is left to determine which contract will cover its elevators and escalators without having industry knowledge. Understanding one without elevator experience is critical to knowing the actual components covered in your contract. A building owner or manager must understand what is covered in the contract to know what they are committing to for the next 3 to 5 years.
Next, somebody should review the other parts of your maintenance agreement, including the frequency of preventative maintenance service the elevator will need. As mentioned before, when the language “systematically and periodically” or at the “discretion of the service provider” is used, what does it mean? These terms do not tell you when somebody will service the elevators. The equipment needs more than systemically and periodic service language. It is important to define when somebody will service the equipment.
The ASME A17.1 code, pending the year the elevator is under, requires quarterly maintenance at a minimum. Most states require quarterly maintenance; however, the elevators may need more based on numerous factors – the age of the equipment, the usage, parts availability, and the condition of the elevators. The elevators in the building may need monthly maintenance.
There are many factors to consider when engaging in a new maintenance service contract, which we will discuss further in future posts, such as building usage. The building owner must carefully vet potential service providers to understand what service the elevators need. Whether you have one elevator or five hundred elevators, it is relative.
There are also different needs per industry; hospitals differ significantly from retail, and commercial buildings may be similar yet have other operational requirements. Make sure your choice of an elevator service provider is informed and based on research. Stay tuned – The Elevator Consultants will continue to post about other important factors when negotiating a new elevator maintenance service agreement.