25 January 2011
Dear Maintenance Men: Everything seemed to be going fine at my building. I had not gotten a maintenance call in months and months. By chance I stopped by the building and was horrified to find several unreported leaks and other damage. It is going to cost me several times more to repair the damage than it would have to do the initial repairs in the first place. Do you have any advice on preventing this from happening in the future? Bill
Dear Bill: Inspection, prevention and routine maintenance are the most economical maintenance procedures that can be applied at one’s property. Frequent inspections of the interior and exterior of the property are amust. To start, give your residents an easy way to report maintenance issues and as you collect rents, talk to the residents and ask about maintenance problems. Set up an inspection calendar. As an example: 1. Once a month, drive by the property; look for anything out of the ordinary. Check the roof for tree branches, the grounds for broken sprinklers etc. Talk to the residents. Compare house water and electric bills from the previous months. A big difference in a bill will warrant further investigation. 2. Once a quarter, walk the property, check the laundry room, and turn on the sprinklers. Check the garages and car-port areas. Talk to the residents. 3. Every six months to a year, set up an internal walkthrough of each unit. Check all faucets, drains, heaters and air conditioners. Open and close drawers, closets and windows. Check the smoke alarm. Be sure to take notes on each inspection. Reviewing old notes will help you determine wear and tear from possible tenant abuse. 4. As a preventive maintenance procedure, once a year hydrojet or snake out your main drains. During the inspections, you may want to invite trade contractors such as a roofer to inspect the roof, an HVAC company to inspect heating and air conditioning. Many times trade contractors may offer the inspection as a free service. This will allow you to budget and prioritize your approach to the repairs. By the use of skilled tradespeople, you can cover more area in less time and your chances of missing something will be reduced. By using a calendar and reviewing your notes before each inspection, you will develop a systematic approach to your building maintenance and avoid surprises. These simple measures will save you thousands in the long run and remember, preventive maintenance will help reduce costly emergency repairs.