what-is-build-to-rent-btrIncreasing demand from renters is changing the way the construction industry operates. In light of the ongoing changes, residential developers are increasingly investing in the PRS (Private Rental Sector) and Build to Rent (BtR) properties. These types of developments, usually high-rise buildings, are built to be rented out and remain in the long-term ownership of the developers. As a result, the importance of quality and maintenance opportunities is becoming essential to developers who invest in Build to Rent.

In an article on the subject, architects Chapman Taylor say:

“As BtR developments are designed for long-term investment purposes, the life-cycle of the building materials used plays a much greater role than in other developments. Finishes need to be high-quality, robust, easily maintainable, readily accessible and designed to last.”

Some developers, such as Quintain, have gone as far as to create a separate brand for their Build to Rent properties. Tipi, Quintain’s Build to Rent brand, currently manages six developments, in some of which you can find Group SCS smoke vent systems. Property agent Savills estimates that 14,660 Build to Rent developments were completed in 2021. With a 15% growth in completions compared to the 2019-21 average, the demand for BtR is set to grow even further.

The importance of quality and maintenance in Build to Rent developments

As developers keep hold of their new builds rather than selling the properties, the importance of quality is reflected in their maintenance costs. The quality of materials has always been essential, however, their longevity and maintenance may not have been a priority until now. When it comes to smoke control, in particular, a poorly maintained smoke ventilation system can result not only in safety issues but also in costly call-out charges.

Smoke control systems need to be checked and tested weekly, monthly, and annually. The weekly and monthly checks will typically be carried out by the general maintenance or site management personnel for a building, but they can often be overlooked and forgotten. Routine checks might not be mandatory in all cases, but they are essential to the well-being of smoke vent systems and building residents.

Remote maintenance is ideal for Build to Rent developments

Developers who retain ownership of their buildings may find remote monitoring solutions beneficial for the life-safety systems in their BtR developments. These systems require regular maintenance checks by law and can be costly in terms of personnel. Moreover, in high-rise buildings, which Build to Rent developments often are, testing is recommended on every floor, which becomes a very time-consuming task.

The benefits of remote smoke vent system maintenance

To ensure the safety of smoke control systems in buildings, all our smoke vent systems support our remote monitoring and testing software Eyeball. Eyeball takes care of the routine weekly and monthly checks and reduces the risk of a system malfunction substantially. Additionally, the software frees up time for the maintenance personnel that is usually tasked with these time-consuming checks.

Monitor systems constantly

One of the key advantages of remote monitoring is its ability to be carried out 24/7. This way, systems can send an alert any time of the day so that any issues and failures can be addressed immediately. Without remote monitoring or regular checks, an issue might go unnoticed for days or weeks. Consequentially, if a fault occurs, the system or component would remain inoperable until the next scheduled maintenance visit, impacting the fire safety of residents.

Save time on lengthy maintenance visits

Being able to schedule regular weekly and monthly tests of every component on the system substitutes the need to manually check systems. Maintenance visits often involve performing checks on every floor in a multi-storey building, which takes up a large amount of time.

With a remote monitoring and self-testing solution, smoke control systems automatically self-test and send maintenance reports to the building operator or facilities manager. For Build to Rent developments, remote monitoring allows maintenance staff to focus on tasks where expert skill is required and optimise their time.

Direct maintenance personnel straight to the area of concern

By being able to securely access, test and diagnose any issue remotely, buildings can avoid unnecessary visits. Moreover, maintenance staff can go straight to the affected system components, thus saving time and effort that they would otherwise spend looking for the source of the problem. For example, if a head of stair vent is stuck open because someone had used the override switch, then the system could be reset remotely avoiding an unnecessary visit. Additionally, control panels can have remote software updates from a service centre without the need for a site visit.

What features does Eyeball provide?

Our remote monitoring and self-testing solution, Eyeball, can remotely provide organisations with essential insights into the overall health of their system. Our software offers the ability to schedule a self-test sequence, as well as monitor a system’s functionality. This means that the system will cycle through all system components and submit a report detailing whether there are any faults that require further investigation. Eyeball can be set up so that system activations and faults are emailed and/or texted through to a nominated person who can then escalate as necessary.

The Group SCS Support and aftercare team can remotely log into a system set up with Eyeball and view key events displayed on the system HMI (touch screen display). This enables our experts to vet issues and perform basic tests so a decision can be made about whether a callout is necessary.

What smoke control systems can use Eyeball?

Our remote monitoring and self-testing software is compatible with newly shipped or upgraded Group SCS/Easivent EV-300 shaft systems.

For use with older and 3rd-party smoke shaft systems, Eyeball is available with reduced capabilities:

  • A Classic Remote Monitoring Service that provides monitoring of component and system alarms/events for existing installed SCS/Easivent EV-300 shaft systems and legacy ASI systems, or
  • A Basic Remote Monitoring Service that provides a basic alarm monitoring solution for all SCS/Easivent legacy shaft systems and most 3rd-party systems.


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