April 23, 2020| Lester Yat
Spring is here — and it’s time to head out to relax on the deck, take a swing on the tennis courts … and make an inspection tour of your property.
Winter, with its heavy snow, gusty winds and constant freeze-thaw cycles, takes a toll on every community’s buildings and grounds.
But a sunny spring day offers a great opportunity for property managers to enjoy some fresh air while casting a critical eye on every aspect of the property. Even better, take along a “buddy” — like the colleague who fills in for you during vacations or on sick days — who can offer a fresh look at those components that you see every day.
Engineering and Insurance Views
Consider the property from two perspectives: Integrity and liability. After all, you want the building and grounds to function properly and at the same time, be free of any any potential insurance problems.
If an insurance company sees that a community is letting safety slide, it might go so far as to cancel the insurance policy. And should disaster — such as a fire — strike, the insurance company will be looking to make sure that alarm and sprinkler systems were in good working order.
Starting outdoors, conduct a top-down review. Look for damage to the roof, siding and windows. Water infiltration will not only damage the building components, but can also create problems (and insurance claims) for unit owners and residents.
Check to be sure that handrails and deck/balcony railings are secure. Warm weather lures residents onto their decks and balconies, and every year brings news articles about serious injuries that could have been avoided with proactive maintenance.
Stroll along all sidewalks, keeping an eye out for trip-inducing cracks or heaves. While slip-and-fall accidents are generally associated with winter conditions, trip-and-fall accidents throughout the year are equally painful to both people and the community’s insurance rating. If the property has a mailbox station, check its condition after a season of buffeting winds and snowplowing.
Landscaping takes a beating during the winter; look for branches that could fall and hurt someone, as well as limbs that over-hang the building and could damage the roof or siding. Shrubs should also be trimmed so they don’t provide cover for potential criminal activity.
Make sure that all drains and catch basins are clear of debris and moving water off the property.
As evening falls, survey the lighting around buildings, parking lots and garages — and this might be a good time to consider upgrading lighting to new bulbs that are not only more energy-efficient, but last much longer, requiring less-frequent replacement work.
With your outdoor tour done, take the clipboard inside.
Safe at Home
Check all exits, to see that they are clearly marked and unobstructed. In the event of an emergency, you want to be sure that residents can leave the building quickly. Make sure the lights in interior stairwells are working, that handrails are solid and that the stairs themselves are clean and safe.
Are the fire extinguishers in the mechanical rooms accessible and up-to-date? Check tags to be sure they’ve been inspected and approved. Inspect the chains and padlocks on main valves. Review the HVAC systems; when those first warm days arrive, residents will expect the air conditioning to be in working order.
Elevators, too, require regular inspections and certifications. Make sure yours are up to date.
As your community prepares to enjoy a delightful Spring season, it will be good to know that they can do so safely, and that you’ll have plenty of time ahead to repair any damage left behind by Old Man Winter.