'winter' in these days of shifting, warming climate tends to involve
more chilly rain and slush than the snowdrifts and icecicles of
decades past, multifamily buildings are still on the hook for some
seasonal maintenace when the calendar starts edging toward spring.
The scope of projects can vary of course, depending on the size and
features of your particular property. Some communities’ spring
checklist may just consist of removing winter debris from the tree
pits and planters out front, while others may have to coordinate
cleaning and prepping swimming pools, tennis courts or playground
No matter where your buildng falls on the continuum, a clear, concise spring maintenance schedule can be a huge help – and an adept manager can help determine the nature and extent of needed spring work, as well as the best way to prioritize and schedule service calls. He or she can also coordinate any necessary inspections with contractors, and accompany those contractors as they assess your property.
Any spring cleaning endeavor should start with the outside surfaces. Not only because your building's exterior bears the brunt of the elements, but because it's the public-facing side of your community, and you want it to look its best.
“Any association will want to perform some routine tasks, including cleaning their grounds of leaves and debris to prep for landscaping, and cleaning windows," says James Maistre, an executive agent with Veritas Property Management in New York City, adding that serious exterior cleaning of the latter should be handled by professionals.
“Changing out old and dilapidated-looking signs can make things look a bit more sharp without requiring an association to hire an outside vendor,” adds Ellen Brown Martinez, Vice President of Florida-based C&S Community Management Services.
If the winter weather has been particularly harsh, an association may need to deal with issues beyond just fallen twigs and grubby signage. “Winter ice damming can be especially damaging to roofs,” says Brian Butler, Vice President of Property Management with FirstService Residential in Chicago. “An association should engage a roofing expert to conduct regular inspections to better identify necessary repairs to avoid further water infiltration when the spring arrives in force.”
Once the exterior of a property is in good repair and looking fresh, a building and associations can look inward, and do a little interior housecleaning as well. Carpets in common areas should be shampooed; tiles in entryways and lobby areas can be scrubbed of winter grime and salt stains, then polished back to their usual shine; paint on walls in common areas can be touched up, as well as on doors and trims; light fixtures, interior windows and air ducts can be cleaned as well. “The latter, along with marble floor tiles, should be handled by professionals,” Maistre points out.
“Also," addds Butler, "the rain that comes with spring can often result in wet lobbies with slippery conditions," so this is a good time for in-house staff to replace worn lobby floor mats, and inspect the seals around common area windows and doors to prevent leaks and slip-and-fall hazards.
According to Don Cabrera, owner of Cabrera Companies in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, important building systems should get a critical look as well. "Any elevators should be inspected," he says, "and fire safety and suppression measures should be taken care of."
Boards should also brace themselves, says Butler – because as soon as the weather turns, it’s moving season. “Spring is usually busy for people moving in and out of properties, so association staff should prepare heavily-trafficked service areas by installing fresh corner guards and ensuring that elevator pads are in good condition to better protect the cabs. These steps can save thousands of dollars in repairs after the moving season is over."
Springtime is lovely – but it can also be a lot of work. By planning ahead, prioritizing tasks, and collaborating with your management and service providers, your building or HOA can make seasonal cleanup easier and smoother – and spend more of your time enjoying the return of sunshine and warmer weather.