Some buildings have lush reserve funds and the most pressing challenge in building maintenance involves new balustrades or landmark accents.
But for most co-op and condo managers in New York, building maintenance is less predictable. It quickly becomes a juggling act or game of whack-a-mole. The good news is that proper focus can change that through daily vigilance and changeable prioritization involving projects you can afford, projects that are urgent and projects to be deferred.
Topping the list of course ought to be any condition that threatens the health or safety of residents. If a project involves aesthetics, you may be able to postpone maintenance, but structural elements require more immediate attention. Still, these decisions are always nuanced. An outdated lobby can diminish the building’s perceived value. Structural deficiencies might lead to an emergency situation if neglected too long. Striking the right balance requires a clear understanding of the overall condition of your building as well as the expectations of shareholders.
As a general rule, perform maintenance projects—inspections of elevators, sprinklers, HVAC systems, etc.--on a rotating basis to keep the building running efficiently. And never overlook opportunities to execute preventative fixes during scheduled renovations.
If window installs are due, make sure your waterproofing is intact and inspect the condition of the surrounding support steel. Once, during a renovation on Riverside Drive, while the plumbing was exposed we decided to look at the riser pipes, usually not in great condition in older buildings. If riser pipes break, they can cause significant and costly water damage. Sure enough, we spotted a problem with a faulty riser, brought it to the building’s attention, and it was repaired at little additional cost, eliminating the need (and much larger cost) to tear open the walls again later.