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Prepare your property for the unexpected: 5 tips to keep your condo catastrophe-free

We know “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but it’s often hard to remember the importance of proactive care. The lesson applies to not only our health and homes, but also condos and commercial properties as well. Do you know where you have vulnerabilities in your building?

Condo associations and boards know: Maintaining properties is a lot of work. Most of your time is spent putting out the constant fires (hopefully only figurative ones) that flare up, like owner disputes or leaky toilets. But if you don’t spend at least some time thinking about preventive care, you’re setting yourself up for major issues down the road. Trust me, it’s a matter of “when,” not “if.”

Not too long ago, a local condo board was saddled with a very large repair bill when the elevator failed—due to a lack of regular maintenance by the previous condo management company. The owners were forced to foot the bill based on the square footage they owned, but all were in the thousands of dollars. You can guess what happened next: The owners – angry from the unbudgeted expense – went straight to the condo board to ask, “Who’s looking out for us?”

Don’t let this happen to you. Take another look at five areas worthy of a little proactive attention:

1. HVAC – Nothing is worse than a broken HVAC system, especially during peak winter or summer months, and emergency calls and repairs get pricey fast. Hire a professional to give the overall building system a complete once-over each changing season, and encourage owners to regularly change the filters on their individual systems.
 
2. Vents – A common condo issue is clogged vents—both the overall building system vents and individual condo vents (especially from dryers). Reduce this all-too-common fire hazard with regular checks on both interior and exterior vents.
 
3. Pipes – There’s not much worse than a sewer backup in one of your condos. Schedule a plumbing pro to clean all of your building’s sewer and major drain lines. And don’t forget to protect those lines from freezing this winter! Invest in heat tape and insulation, and don’t forget to prepare any exterior hose bibs for the cold weather.
 
4. Inspections – Keep track of all required inspections (such as fire sprinklers) so you don’t incur any citations. Be sure to look at both state and local codes and mark them on the calendar.
 
5. Snow removal – Ensuring a safe environment for your residents requires more than just a little rock salt and a shovel. Learn some tips from one Kansas City contractor on how to keep the snow and ice from causing an injury or doing damage to your building lobby floors. And beware of an even bigger issue: Many commercial de-icers can be caustic to dog paws, so do your homework before you buy.

Dangers of DIY


Of course, many condo boards and HOAs are successful at managing their building maintenance themselves. But while self-managing does have some benefits, it’s important to be aware of the risks of tackling the job yourself.

Audrey Ference bought a self-managed condo and related some of the pitfalls to Realtor.com:

“Most people are unaware of how much time and effort it takes to run a building. Some complain that self-managed condos and HOAs feel like a second job. Even with regular rotations for things like trash, snow, and leaf removal, new maintenance issues constantly cropped up.”

If you decide to partner with a property management firm for condo management services, it’s important to find someone who understands lifestyle management and the attention to detail required to manage a condominium. Copaken Brooks has an experienced team that recognizes the importance of balancing the preservation of value with delivering best-in-class amenities and service.

Our focus is always on proactive and preventive care to ensure your building is always comfortable, clean and welcoming. If you have questions about condo management services, let me know; we’re happy to provide a complimentary building checkup. We’ll show you how we can help you spot the small issues before they become major issues—and that kind of peace of mind is priceless.

Mark Thomas is senior vice president of asset and property management at Copaken Brooks, a full-service commercial real estate firm headquartered in Kansas City and serving the Midwest. The company’s full suite of services includes: condo management, property management, asset management, development, investment acquisition and sales, tenant representation and HQ relocations, leasing (office, retail and industrial), and construction management. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @CopakenBrooks.

 

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