In the 1986 comedy, The Money Pit, Tom Hanks and Shelley Long play a young couple who just bought their first home, paying an unbelievably low price for a beautiful mansion. They soon discover significant problems and deferred maintenance throughout the home, which creates a debacle not easily fixed.
Unlike the movie, property owners and investors need to have a plan to keep up with the maintenance of their properties to maintain happy tenants and high property value. Property owners/investors can hire a property management company to handle the preventative maintenance to keep their investment out of a “maintenance pit” because once you are in deep, it can be costly to escape.
The property manager may handle the preventative maintenance inspections themselves or they may hire specialized vendors to handle them. In either case, you need a system that works for your asset.
The following are five general preventative maintenance areas for commercial properties:
Roof and Roof Elements
With various roofing systems available, all come with their own recommended maintenance and requirements to retain the warranty. Roof examinations need to take place bi-annually, and property owners should hire a roofing contractor to take care of preventative maintenance yearly, such as patching up any vulnerable spots and replacing any parts that haven't held up.
When working on roof upkeep, be sure to give special care to anything that can go through the roof, for example, vent pipes, conduit, chimneys, skylights, or antennas. The inspection/maintenance should include checking for a tight seal and corrosion of the elements and metal flashing.
Other elements include all cornices, fascia, and soffits for loosening, cracks, missing flashing or areas water could infiltrate. Additionally, ensuring gutters and drains are clear of debris is one of the easiest and most worthwhile things you can do.
Exterior Walls and Trim
Your building’s first line of defense against the elements is paint and caulk. Peeling paint and weakened caulking could cause further deterioration of the substrate if not addressed. Take the time to fill up all cracks in the wall or between trim pieces with caulk.
All exterior ceilings on overhangs, decks, and porches need to be checked for signs of water infiltration, mold, or wood rot. There needs to be a tight seal where the floor of a porch or walkway meets the wall.
All doors and windows need to be inspected for solid panes and a tight fit with proper weatherstripping and sound caulking. Ensure that all penetrations through the walls are properly caulked and tightly sealed, with wire mesh covering the crack entirely.
The flow of water away from your structure is essential. All roof drains, downspouts, storm drains, and gutters are draining and free of debris.
The foundation and retaining walls need to be inspected for cracks, signs of water infiltration or seepage and ensure the integrity is sound.
To maintain the parking lot asphalt, seal it every three years will significantly prolong its life.
Ensure the concrete has no cracks or any utility cover plates are missing, which pose a safety hazard. Also, pressure wash walkways to rid them of gum, grime, or those prone to moss growth or that are slippery when wet.
The type of construction will dictate what to look for in inspections. If a building has load-bearing masonry walls or cast-in-place concrete walls, inspectors look for any movement, cracks, water infiltration and missing mortar or seam sealant.
Wood construction may show signs of sagging or sloping, causing cracks in the walls. Your maintenance team needs to pay attention to dry rot and pest infestation.
Steel beams with a concrete deck, reinforced concrete, and masonry floors are prone to deflection, spalling, corrosion, poor mechanical connections, and settling, which may show signs in interior areas.
It is important to keep floor coverings and wall and ceiling finishes intact and free of marks or discoloration in order to spot trouble easily.
Inspect fireplaces and chimneys for cracks in the masonry and hearth, as well as to ensure a proper seal on the damper. Regular cleaning of the flue pipe is also an important safety measure.
Mechanical, Plumbing & Electrical Systems
Buildings equipped with basic mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems may minimally need the testing of GFCI circuits, replacement of HVAC filters, cleaning the HVAC condenser, and changing of batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
More sophisticated buildings may have multiple-package HVAC units, chillers and heat pumps - all of which should undergo quarterly maintenance on performed on a regular basis.
You may have a fire suppression system, backflow device, or elevator, all of which will require annual inspections by a certified inspector.
Deferring maintenance on a property for one reason or another is a bad habit for the property owner. Issues left unresolved grow and compound, causing other problems and costing more money to repair.
Bradford Management Company of Dallas, Inc. provides hands-on management of the physical, administrative, and public relations aspects for our property owners. As a professional manager of commercial real estate, Bradford’s goal is to improve the economic and physical value of the assets while providing maximum service to property owners and tenants. While handling direct management responsibilities, our Property Management Team is supported by construction, roofing and engineering, insurance, Tax Consulting and Retail Energy Purchasing.
We take pride in responsiveness to both tenants and property owners.