In today’s turbulent economic times as so many of us try to regain our financial footing, the question of how to balance the bottom line and still take care of all that needs to be done in a co-op and condo building remains a difficult one. Certainly, in an ideal world, any and all maintenance needs would be fixed the minute they occur. With smaller staffs and smaller budgets, however, priorities must be set and sometimes a problem or two has to be put on the back burner.
The question then becomes, how do you recognize what seemingly small problems can grow into big ones and which ones can the maintenance team afford to hold off on? It’s a tricky question, one that involves knowing one’s building inside and out and having the experience or knowledge necessary to determine when a problem is just a squeaky wheel or when it means the whole wheel might fall off.
What Comes First
So which issues must be tackled first? “If you ask that question of a board, they’ll say everything,” says Jeffrey Heidings, president of Siren Management Corp., based in Manhattan. And in many ways, that is the right approach because an environment that is physically cared for appeals directly to potential buyers and to the satisfaction of current residents.
“Certain things are all relative in terms of care,” Heidings says. “It takes a little effort to deal with it. If there’s rust on a gate, that indicates a lack of care. Take a wire brush to it. All of this reflects on how the place is being cared for. These little things add up.”
For example, Heidings says, in one building with a glass door entryway, one of the panes was cracked. “It wasn’t dangerous, it wasn’t breaking through, it was just cracked,” he says. “But a crack in the entryway does not look right. Why should a building that houses such good apartments have something like that.”