While recent reports point to signs of economic recovery, many co-ops and condos are still feeling the financial burden that has accumulated over the last few years due to increased operating costs, residents in arrears, defaults, and now repair costs in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Many building administrators are looking for creative ways to save money and build up their bottom line, so it’s no surprise that many are taking a hard look at their maintenance and building improvement wish-lists—and making some tough decisions as they try to determine the projects they can afford to undertake, and which ones they need to put off until later.
It’s safe to say that any physical issues that require attention must be addressed in a timely manner, regardless of how much it hurts. If an item is more cosmetic in nature, there may be greater latitude in deferring its maintenance—although most pros agree that poorly maintained aesthetic elements can quickly have a negative impact on the perceived value of a building. Other than that, deferred maintenance on a building’s structural or mechanical elements will inevitably result in higher costs the longer they are ignored.
According to Doug Weinstein, director of operations and compliance with AKAM Associates, Inc., a property management firm in Manhattan, the following maintenance projects must be performed annually in order to ensure the proper operation of the building: Burner overhaul before the heating season, roof tank cleaning, elevator inspection, backflow preventer inspections, fire extinguisher inspection and re-charging, sprinkler system inspection, and proper commissioning of the air conditioning system for cooling season.
“Signs and symptoms of an impending maintenance crisis that boards and managers should never ignore or put off include cracks in exterior walls, roof and roof tank leaks, excessive chimney exhaust, elevators that don’t level or otherwise operate properly and heaving sidewalk flags,” Weinstein says. “These problems must be addressed immediately in order to avoid major problems and repair or replacement expenses.”