As winter comes to a close, there's no better time to inspect your community than during sunny spring days. The board or council and the building maintenance committee are encouraged to take advantage of spring inspections to give themselves a jump start on their community upkeep and prepare for the rest of the year by refreshing their annual maintenance plan as needed based on their findings. The following items should be on your list to look at as you are walking in and around your buildings with your maintenance partner.
Landscaping. Plan for a site meeting with your landscaper and discuss how well they are fulfilling the current contract and what possible changes and/or upgrades you’d like to make. Nothing makes a community more welcoming than beautiful flowers, clean garden beds, neat hedges and lawns, and ensuring that this aspect of your community is well-maintained shows homeowners that their assessments are creating value.
Building Exteriors. One of the most crucial maintenance needs that you and/or your maintenance professional should look for during the inspection are signs of wear and tear in the exterior components of your buildings. Check for the cleanliness of your windows and worn out caulking as well as damage to siding, roof shingles, gutters and down-spouts. Additionally, because spring is the time birds are building their nests, keep a look out for them in your soffits.
Building Interiors. If you lead a condo association, walk through the building systematically starting from top to bottom. Splitting an inspection team into three or four groups will speed up the process, and at the end everyone's notes can be consolidated into one report. Team #1 can inspect all common area hallways, looking for damage to walls, doors, light fixtures, fire safety equipment and carpet; team #2 can walk down the stairs and look for any signs of damage to safety railings, steps, doors and windows; team #3 will inspect the lobby, meeting room, gym and swimming pool areas; and team #4 will walk through the underground parkade and inspect the parking areas, looking for hazards, illegal storage and cleanliness. (It is always a good idea to plan for power-washing the parking area in the spring after the snow melted.) Additionally, team #4 should also inspect the garbage and recycling rooms as well as the garage gates for proper operation.
Current Maintenance Contracts. While you're conducting spring inspections, it's also a good time to complete an annual review of all maintenance contracts. When you know what to expect from your service providers, and when they know what the community expects from them, your job on the board or council will be much easier. During this process, make sure you have all the services you need and that the terms of those services are favorable for the community. Do you have a roof maintenance plan? How about a pest control contract? Are any of your contracts auto-renewing or expiring soon? As the community and its buildings get older and more worn each year, your maintenance contracts may have to be renegotiated and adjusted.
Throughout your inspection, keep the following maintenance tips in mind:
- Select the right service provider. Do not choose one from a proposal alone! How can you trust your multi-million dollar community to someone you haven’t even met? Take the time to invite them to your community and have a face-to-face meeting. Ask your questions in detail as you’re walking through the property and get to know the company and how they do things. You want to ensure that your community’s core values are in line with the service provider’s so that you can establish a fruitful and long-lasting partnership based on trust.
- Plan for proactive maintenance. Work closely with your community manager and service providers to create a maintenance schedule that will help you focus on prevention.
- Work with professionals. Suspected major defects should be further investigated by qualified people, such as engineers.
- Avoid deferring repairs. Deferring repairs may cost your community more money in the long run than making repairs in a timely fashion.
- Communicate clearly. Lastly, always inform the residents in your community of upcoming projects to encourage their cooperation.
By completing a thorough spring inspection, you and your fellow board or council members can catch problems while they're small and fix them before they become large, expensive repairs. It's another way to fulfill your fiduciary duty and provide the best service to your community.
Read the ebook, The 5 Essential Steps to Developing a Community Maintenance Plan that Works, to create your own custom preventive maintenance plan. And, learn how Associa OnCall can help with your community's maintenance needs.