Beyond the bricks and mortar of property maintenance

Beyond the bricks and mortar of property maintenance

As a Property Maintenance Project Officer in Jersey Property Holdings, Jessica Smits oversees a number of projects preserving the Island’s public buildings to ensure functionality for generations to come.

From roof repairs to ventilation upgrades, Jessica’s work takes her across the entire 9 by 5 miles, contributing to the Island’s overall infrastructure.

We try to be the proactive side of our larger maintenance team, so this involves planned and scheduled activities to prevent failures before they happen.

“We could be doing anything from roof work, lift maintenance, redecorating, upgrading lighting, refurbishment, heating and ventilation, the list goes on!”

The property portfolio spans across government and public service buildings, education facilities, bunkers, cafes, public toilets, the hospitals, sports facilities, and the markets.

“People may not realise the portfolio that we oversee is huge. There are 871 active sites within the public estates portfolio and around 300 of those sites are maintained by us, with the largest sector being Education.”

Jessica is no stranger to being up on the roof of a building wearing her hard hat, high vis, and steel capped boots. Recently she’s been up reviewing the roof of the Central Market, one of the more complex projects she’s working on.

“We need to be able to ensure that repairs can be done safely and that there’s always good access to the roof. I’m currently looking to upgrade the system which will allow repairs to be done on the Central Market roof.

There’s lots of ideas and challenges for the Market, we work closely with the team there and have been working together to have longer opening hours into the evenings and to also get more stalls in there.”

Beyond surveying and planning, Jessica emphasises the importance of developing and maintaining relationships. Whether that is liaising with local architects, builders, or school head teachers. Jessica navigates the delicate balance of meeting wants and needs, while ensuring budgets are used fairly and invested in the places that most need it.

“One project I am especially passionate about this year is the improvements we are looking to make to some of our schools to make them more accessible. We’re really committed to improving inclusivity and accessibility to all.”

Jersey Property Holdings also uses modern technology to efficiently improve services.

“We recently got a Matterport scanner which means we can create immersive 3D virtual tours of physical space – basically allowing us to explore spaces digitally as if they were physically present. We also got a drone to do geospatial scans and provide us with important data such as the condition of buildings.

We were able to assess damage from Storm Ciaran using the drone without needing to hire scaffolding or plant equipment to access our most challenging or even inaccessible sites.”

As a woman in an industry that is still often perceived as male dominated, Jessica is passionate about trying to encourage more women to get into property, construction, and project management.

“I’d like to break some of the social norms about women working in this industry. At Jersey Property Holdings, I’m lucky to be working around lots of intelligent and inspirational women, there’s a lot of great support here.”

From maintaining the buildings that Islanders use every day of the year, to initiatives aimed at promoting accessibility and inclusivity, Jessica and her team at Jersey Property Holdings are key to keeping the Island running across Jersey’s public estate.

For more information about Jersey Markets, visit: Jersey Markets: Jersey Central Market in St. Helier

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