How to avoid out of hours property ‘emergencies’ and reduce costly contractor call-outs

Adiuvo provides out-of-hours call handling and where necessary provision of contractors to more than 340,000 properties throughout the UK and Ireland via a team of experienced property and customer service staff.  We triage all incoming calls and progress emergencies to at least a point where there is no further ongoing material damage or implications for the health and safety of residents. This is done while reporting progress in real time to Adiuvo’s clients who range from nationwide managing agents and developers to private freeholders and individual buildings/RMCs. 

Whoever a building or agent utilises to manage their out of hours response, there are a number of key things that can be done to reduce the need for contractor call outs and, more importantly, mitigate possible damage and additional costs should an emergency happen. 

From our experience of over 260,000 incidents, here is what we would suggest you should be aware of;


Stopcocks; leaks make up around 50% of all emergency calls received by Adiuvo, so it is vital that residents know where their stopcock is (or in some cases what a stopcock is).

Out of hours, the only concern is to prevent material damage so contractors are instructed to isolate the problem, which in 9 cases out of 10 can be done by shutting off the stopcock.  Doing this immediately not only avoids costly call outs, but can also prevent further damage while the contractor is en-route. If stopcocks can’t be turned off or accessed by the residents in your block, make sure whoever handles your calls knows where they are located and can direct contractors and residents accordingly.

Access; if contractors (or even residents) can’t get into the building or access riser or meter cupboards/external stopcocks it may not be possible to deal with your problem. Whether it is via codes or keys or simply by installing a key safe, make sure there is a guaranteed way of entering the building and all service areas should a major problem arise.

Contracts and contact numbers for essential services - whether it be lifts, alarms, communal boilers or vehicle access it should be checked for suitable coverage. As simple as this sounds approximately 15% of all companies we contact out of hours advise there do not attend outside of regular hours and as these are specialist installations general contractors often cannot attend to rectify problems meaning some issues cannot be addressed.

Contact numbers; many companies have dedicated Out of Hours numbers that are not available via an internet search or even their own main number messages so make sure these numbers (and any PIN or security codes) are available to those taking your calls

Fire or Smoke Alarms - make sure the contractors servicing the alarms supply site or call handlers have access to any codes or keys for the alarm as well as location of all panels.

Vehicle or pedestrian access gates - if there is a code or manual override key or button make sure the directors or whoever fields out-of-hours calls, has those details for those inevitable occasions when mechanical installations fail.

Qualified Contractors - It is possibly more important than anything else to have access to qualified contractors that provide an out-of-hours response. There are plenty of companies out there but good ones are not easy to find when water is pouring from one flat to another at midnight and the stopcock has seized.  If you are a small or single building talk to your current contractors or look to add a 24 hour contractor to your list of service providers. Give them some daytime work to test them out first and make sure they are aware of the layout of the building and the location of your services and utilities.  Your out of hours list of trades should include a plumber, an electrician, a locksmith and a drainage company which can provide an emergency service should the worst happen in your building. 

Colin Stokes, Managing Director at Adiuvo

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