TWO Muir Property Solutions supervisors have been talking about what makes them tick when they tackle housing maintenance matters.
Voids Supervisor, Les Oakes, has literally been putting his soul into social housing throughout a career spanning almost 30 years.
And his colleague, Responsive Contracts Supervisor, Craig Reilly, ensures he can match him at the top of his game, with both men enjoying some friendly rivalry as supporters of football teams on both sides of Manchester.
City fan, Les, who loves nothing more than strutting his stuff on the dancefloor at Northern Soul events across the country when he isn’t working, joined Muir Property Solutions (MPS) in May 2017.
MPS is Muir’s own in-house maintenance contractor, dealing with repairs and maintenance to the Association’s properties and readying them for new arrivals, which is where Les (pictured far right, with Craig) steps in.
In his time helping to prepare empty properties for the arrival of new residents, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, but Les insists every day is different and that he takes pride in making sure houses become homes for families with Muir Group Housing Association.
“I’ve been involved in social housing for 28 years, always doing day-to-day repairs and working on empty properties,” said Les.
“I have lots of experience and in that time there have been lots of changes – I’ve seen it all over the years.
“My pride is getting voids (empty properties) turned around quickly and efficiently so they are repair-free for new residents when they arrive.
“Some empty properties can be made ready in as little as a day, with just a few basic repairs, others can take a few weeks.
“Sometimes we can complete certain jobs after a new resident has moved in, allowing them access to the property earlier depending on their situation.
“Organisation and planning is key so it’s important to communicate with my operatives.
“I speak with them at least twice each day and regularly visit them on-site.
“It’s also important to keep in touch with the housing officer responsible for letting the properties, so they can plan ahead too.
“But every day is different so you need to be flexible and responsive,” added Les.
Based in Warrington, MPS cover Muir’s properties across the North West and into North Wales.
Work can include refurbishing kitchens and bathrooms, external works, periodic testing and responsive repairs – as well as revamping empty properties vacated by previous residents.
Craig, Responsive Contracts Supervisor at MPS since 2016, looks after the day-to-day repairs side of things having worked in social housing for eight years.
Craig (pictured with Les) said: “I really enjoy the variety of the role.
“I like problem solving and working with the operatives to get solutions.
“I understand the concerns residents have when they raise an issue at their property. The more details they can provide when they report it, the more chance we have of fixing it right first time.
“That communication is very important, and I enjoy helping to resolve issues for them and meeting them when I get out and about.
“Half of my role is office-based so it’s important to know what’s happening on the ground.
“We deal with anything from relatively minor repairs to roof leaks or flooding.
A darts player and boxer, United supporter Craig also manages his son’s local football team, using similar organising and motivational skills to those that meet high standards in his job.
“Les and I have a bit of banter when we see each other because we support the different football teams in Manchester,” Craig said.
“It’s friendly rivalry but we share the same goal of providing a good service to residents – we are always looking to improve on what we do at MPS,” he added.