The clock approaches 9 am and I arrive at the DAS office like promised. It’s snowing and I ring the doorbell of the side door. I’m let in - just in time for the morning coffee. After the coffee, I move to the office of the servicemen and start talking with one of the servicemen of DAS, Reima Kuusisto, who has started his working day already an hour earlier and with whom I’ve agreed to check out the foundation’s properties, following his workday and tasks.
I ask him: ‘What do you usually do in the mornings before you start going through the buildings?’
Reima answers chuckling: ‘First off you obviously wear your work outfit and open the computer in the office. In the morning, you always prioritize the notes of faults so that the most severe faults are fixed first thing. In the mornings, you also have time to answer emails and take care of other office-related tasks.’
Soon after this conversation Reima and I get into the white DAS maintenance car and leave towards the city center. The first task of the day is to pick up new keys from Turvacenter for replacing the keys and lock for a tenant who lost their key. On the way, we talk about the updates made on the note of fault form and how tenants have started using its new features. One of the new features is that you can now attach a photo on the form - something that Reima says has helped working and made it faster.
‘Especially the exchange students seem to be eager to attach photos’, Reima says and adds, ‘just recently an exchange student sent a photo of a broken power outlet in their apartment. Based on the photo I could immediately send information to the electrician to tell what kind of a fault we were talking about. This meant that the maintenance service didn’t have to go to the apartment to check the fault and we could immediately order the repair service and the tenant noticed this as faster service and shortened response time.’
At Turvacenter we wait for the new keys to be made and Reima calls the tenant to agree on the schedule of replacing the lock and keys. While waiting we also talk generally about the procedure. Reima tells me that the replacement of keys and locks can cost around 150–300 euros, depending on the type of the apartment and the number of keys replaced. For example, in the shared apartments of Kuntotie 3 and 5 meant for 6 people, 8–9 keys have to be ordered which makes replacing them quite expensive.
After receiving the new keys we leave towards Anninportti. Reima knocks the door and soon the tenant opens it. Reima greets the tenant and starts changing the lock. In a few minutes the job is done, the lock is checked, the tenant has received new keys and Reima has collected the remaining spare key that no longer fits the new lock.
‘While we’re here, we might just as well check this out too’, Reima says and opens the door to another apartment, ‘lately we have been installing laminate and vinyl flooring in some of the apartments as a pilot project to see how they function and what kind of experiences tenants have compared to the regular flooring we use.’
And the apartment sure looks nice. Built in the turn of the millennium the apartment has received a noticeable facelift since a new subtle, wood-patterned and grey vinyl flooring has been installed on top of the old floor material. Now the apartment looks like brand new - and smells like it too. Reima tells about another new thing: taking photos of the apartments with a 360° camera. These photos could be later used as showcasing the apartments on the DAS website.
However, now it’s the time to move towards the main task of the day, apartment inspections that is. Our first destination is Rovala. We park in the front of the building. Before the first inspection we go and read the water and electricity consumption measures because that is also one of the tasks servicemen have to do as the month changes. Reima describes the different, intertwining pipes and tubes that serve different functions. It is revealed that, like in many other things, technological development has made reading the measures faster. Reima tells how back in the day he would have to send the figures with a text message, then with a rather clumsy mini-laptop and nowadays conveniently with a tablet.
Now it’s finally time for the apartment inspection. We knock on the door of the apartment and wait for a response. Reima tells how sometimes the new tenants might have already had time to move in, the shared apartment still has other tenants living in the other rooms or the tenant moving out is still finishing up the cleaning of the apartment, so it is important to inform that servicemen are coming. No one eventually comes to open the door so we step in and Reima starts the inspection. He checks the condition and cleanliness of the closets. After this he checks the general condition and state of cleanliness of the apartment. He checks that the floor has been cleaned also under the bed. We notice a mark on the wall.
‘This is clearly an old mark and it means that this is not made by the tenant who just moved out’, Reima points out but takes a photo of the mark to be archived anyway.
The day continues after lunch with more inspections. One can notice about Reima that he has perfected his way of conducting the inspections and he does it efficiently. In some cases, the inspection takes very little time since the apartments are left in a perfect condition. In other cases, there are several flaws. Someone has not cleaned the back of the fridge; someone has stuck something on the walls with tape and this has left ugly marks on the wall. During one inspection, I help Reima to remove a bed spoiled into an unusable condition from a furnished DAS apartment. All these faults and flaws Reima marks on the inspection reports and defines if they are chargeable or counted as natural wear and tear. He points out that the chargeable flaws are also checked at the office by comparing them to the findings in previous inspection reports and apartment cards.
We also have time to visit Kuntotie 3 to replace a WiFi-router that belongs to the apartment since the previous one has been broken. Usually taking care of the notes of faults would take a larger portion of the workday but apartment inspections are the priority today before the new tenants move in. During one inspection, new tenants are in fact already moving in and they get to witness Reima doing his job for a moment.
‘On regular days even one call can make you reschedule your whole day’, Reima says.
Suddenly I notice that it’s almost 2 pm and it’s time to get back to the office for the afternoon coffee break. A small break does a body good since touring around the apartments counts as exercise. At the coffee table, we go through the events of the day so far. I make a remark about how even with a brief observation of few hours the work of the maintenance service seems versatile and it requires heavy expertize of many different fields and the accuracy and certainty brought by years of experience. After the break, more inspections are to come, so I let Reima finish his day in peace without me.