What is the true cost of CAM, and can we price it correctly?



THE INTRODUCTION:

The company in question has a significant presence in the leasing/ rental business in India. It has a prominent space spread across 1 million square feet and has more than 0.45 million square feet of prime retail space.



THE PROBLEM:

The company seeks detailed computation of its common area facility and related costs and assurance that its common area maintenance (CAM) charges [1] are reasonable and in accordance with the company's CAM policy and the agreements with its space buyers/ retailers. This, in common parlance, is referred to as the CAM Audit.



THE SOLUTION:

An elaborate audit of CAM and related costs was conducted to ensure that pricing is reasonable and in line with the company's concerned policies and relevant buyers/ retailers' agreements. The information was also used for billing tenants/buyers/retail space owners covering elements of resource deployment, upkeep, consumables, utility (air, water, and electricity), etc.

Each cost element of common area maintenance was thoroughly diagnosed as follows:

Cost Element

​Explanation

Audit Approach (Check-Points) Deployment Cost

Deployment Cost

Maintenance agency and outsourced employee costs are directly identified to the common area and segregated based on nature and work area.

Deployment cost is mainly segregated into the following areas:

  • Common Area

  • Utility - Electricity

  • Utility - Centralised air-conditioning

  • Deployment for non-common areas (Costs which are not considered as common and are indirect in nature like commercial, operations, legal, CSR, office, etc.)

  • Check department-wise employees deployment

  • Check identification and allocation of deployment costs into cost centres according to the nature of the job

  • Analyse all possible scenarios/ departments for considering them as CAM/ non-CAM charges

  • Ensure completeness assertion by considering all GL accounts booked as employee costs in audited financial statements

  • Study deployment daily shift chart.

  • Study human resources cost not forming part of CAM charges

​Upkeep Cost

Expenses related to facility maintenance like annual maintenance charges (AMC) of assets, pest control, whitewash expenses, etc.

  • Analyse bills/ invoices

  • Scrutinise ledger booking

  • Review AMC agreements and match them with invoices raised

Consumables

Indirect materials utilised for common service operations like plumbing materials, paints, lubricating oil, spares,etc.

  • Analyse bills/ invoices

  • Scrutinise ledger booking

  • Review agreements and match with invoices raised

  • Check cost centre-wise booking of expenses

  • Study consumption rate of consumables

  • Ensure completeness assertion by considering all GL accounts booked as consumables cost in audited financial statements

Utilities cost


Water, electricity and air conditioning are utilised in the common area of the building.


Air-condition area shall mean the area within an entire building which is airconditioned through a centralised airconditioning system, such as Occupied Area, common circulation area, etc., excluding the common services area, which is not air-conditioned and basement parking area.


  • Analyse bills/ invoices (e.g. BSES, etc.)

  • Study consumption rate of water

  • Perform analytical review of:

  1. Deployment cost in utilities

  2. Calculating the air conditioning area as defined in CAM policy and the licensor-licensee agreement, factoring in the operational working hours of the shops, restaurants, etc.

  3. Electricity unit consumption by air conditioning unit (HVAC) and hot water generation

  4. Conversion from high tension (HT) to low tension (LT) power units and conversion loss, if any

  5. Electricity units reconciliation between units purchased/ generated and their distribution

  6. Transmission loss

  • Study depreciation of Air Conditioning unit

  • Verify the consumption rate of electricity and recovery rate, and units billed to occupiers

  • Electricity Units consumed for common area

  • Ensure completeness assertion by considering all GL accounts booked as utilities cost in audited financial statements

​Sinking fund

Created to replace/ upgrade/ add capital goods, including plant & machinery, lifts, pumps, electrical cables, etc

  • Verify estimated life of asset

  • Evaluate whether expert help is needed (e.g. Chartered Engineer)

  • Scrutinise fixed assets register and assets for Common Area

​Miscellaneous

Charges like insurance, safety audit fees, professional fees, certification charges, testing charges and Mall décor expenses & printing charges

  • Analyse bills/ invoices raised

  • Ensuring completeness assertion by scrutinizing all remaining GL accounts not covered above and if the same can for part of CAM charges



THE RESULTS:

After rigorous deliberations, detailed analysis and continuous communication with the client for over a month, our team at Chandra Wadhwa & Co. presented the following conclusions/ observations:

  • Redrafting the Costing system per generally accepted cost accounting principles was proposed to secure a true and fair costing mechanism. Thus, cost should primarily be allocated/ identified at the cost centres level and absorbed into the final cost object. For, e.g. as per the earlier system, the G/L expenditure was incorrectly considered as the cost of water. However, following our suggestion, water cost was derived as follows:

  •  Water Purchase cost

  •  Electricity consumed to run pump

  •  Employee cost for person deployed for water pumps

  •  Repair and maintenance of water pump

  •  Other overheads

  • Recommended to adopt a more meaningful/ refined basis of allocations. Eg. To replace the leasable area with customer footfall, etc.

  • Revisit assets sinking fund calculation and certify life of assets by a Chartered Engineer:

  1. Consider salvage cost/ replacement cost/ scrap value in sinking fund calculation.

  2. Calculate Assets sinking fund over a total area rather than common area alone.

  3. Exclude expired CAM assets in the calculation of the sinking fund.

  • Recover advertisement and promotional expenses from occupiers at an ad-hoc nominal rate (e.g. Rs. XX per sq. ft. of super built-up area) instead of using true cost.


CAM charges were undervalued, and the actual increase in cost is ~10% after implementation of relevant suggestions as provided by our team:

​Areas

Actual Cost Increase/ (Decrease)

Deployment cost re-calibrated based on true nature of the job

+03% of Earlier Cost

Repair and maintenance cost allocation revised based on the principle of cause and effect

+25% of Earlier Cost

Sinking fund calculation correction

-30% of Earlier Cost

CAM Charges

+10% of Earlier Cost



FOOTNOTES:


1. CAM charges are costs passed on to commercial property tenants to reimburse the maintenance agency for the expenses associated with maintaining the common area of a property. Generally, common area fees are chargeable based on a tenant's square feet area.


 


CONTACT US

Reach us if you have any concerns regarding cost management accounting issues in your organization.


SANKALP WADHWA

Partner, Chandra Wadhwa & Co. (Cost Accountants) | B.Com, FCMA, ACA, DISA | Certified SAP-CO Consultant | Executive Program on Management and Finance (IIM, Ahmedabad)


Address: 1305 & 1306, Vijaya Building, 17, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi - 110001, India Mail: sankalp.wadhwa@cwcindia.in

Tel: +91-8800018190, +91-7503703599.

Website: www.cwcindia.in