16 Mar Springtime is Here: Tackling Common Issues within Condominium Communities
The work of a homeowners association and property management team is an ongoing and ever-changing process. Enhancing the community for the benefit of its residents is really a journey, not a destination. The changing seasons bring with it an opportunity for beautification, outdoor activities, and community gatherings. But to fully enjoy, experience, and appreciate all a community offers requires a lot of hard work and preparation. It takes all hands on deck and an excellent team to deliver. So without further ado, here are some ways to ensure your community is in tip-top shape for the start of spring and into summer.
You’ve probably been bundled up inside for the last few months. During that time, all sorts of little issues can creep up in and around the community. Cold weather and unpredictable storms can take a toll on the property. Chances are you’ve already taken note of a few things that have suffered from winter exposure, but a thorough walk-through of the community needs to be done to identify potential issues. One or multiple board members could take part with the property manager to survey the property – the more eyes, the better.
Things that can be seen with the naked eye include cracks in sidewalks or parking areas, chipping or peeling paint, loose roofing, clogged or sagging gutters, and surfaces that will need heavy-duty cleaning. Also, plan to check outdoor lighting and furniture, security cameras, gates, fencing, decks, and other equipment. Remember, materials such as wood tend to be more susceptible to water damage. Also, review exterior vents to make sure they are not blocked. Take notes of anything that needs to be addressed and add it to a master checklist.
Now is also an excellent time to tackle any outstanding things delayed during the winter months; tasks like testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, checking for small animals that found warmth during the winter months, and other required inspections.
Time to clean!
This one might seem obvious considering the adage of “spring cleaning,” but that doesn’t mean you can roll your eyes and forget about it. Winter is the harshest of the four seasons and the least predictable. One day it might be 50 degrees and sunny, the next 20 degrees and snow. A power washer will get some heavy use during this time, primarily if you used salt and other treatments in your community this winter. A good power washing is one of those few tasks that provide real-time results and one that makes a huge difference. Typical trouble areas to address are sidewalks and walkways, around the pool, wooden decks, and recreational surfaces like a tennis court. Depending on the siding material, some buildings may also need this service. This deep cleaning can also help to illuminate any cracks or chips that may need resealing. You should also review other common areas like the clubhouse, bathrooms, patios, and less-prominent external areas for cleaning.
Get the pool ready
Residents always look forward to the pool opening. Once a stretch of a few warms days happens, people will start to wonder when the pool cover is coming off. Then, as soon as the cover comes off, the chatter and anticipation become palpable. Even though it won’t be ready to swim in, there’s plenty to do in preparation for opening day. Pools require springtime maintenance and necessary safety measures. The pool will need to be cleaned and serviced, the chemical levels checked, pumps tested, filters changed, the drains cleared of any debris. All the accessories like ladders, lifeguard stands, umbrellas, furniture, and other equipment also need to be checked. If you need a new lifeguard, now is a good time to start searching to fill the position. Take stock of all the pool equipment and pool toys. Check the stability of any outdoor furniture around the pool area and clean it. Look for any cracks in and around the pool area, too, before they worsen.
Maybe the most noticeable aspect of a community is the outdoor maintenance and landscaping—the attention to detail matters to residents when it comes to how well the grounds are kept. Nothing speaks volumes of the quality a community offers, quite like the landscaping. Bringing in an experienced landscaping company is essential. There’s much work to do once the winter frost lifts; clearing branches and leaves, trimming trees, pruning shrubs, removing dead trees, unclogging drains, replanting where needed, and fertilizing. This activity also offers an opportunity to modernize and redesign flower beds or incorporate new plants into the scenery. Check that the sprinklers are functioning correctly, too, so that these fresh flowers get all the water they need. Asking for residents’ recommendations about native plants and flowers is one way to increase resident involvement. Like magic, homeowners will take note and begin doing their own sprucing up once the work starts.
Start event planning
People have been cooped up too long! With the warmer weather moving in and vaccines being administered at a fast pace, now is the time to begin planning events for the community to enjoy. Outdoor events will still be preferable, so use the weather to your advantage. A block party, a cookout, a community garden, and asking for volunteers to help with spring plantings are great ways to bring residents together. Spring tends to be a popular time for new move-ins, too, so having a full event calendar is a great way to introduce new residents and show them they made the right choice in choosing your community.
Roofs, gutters, siding, oh my
Roofs and gutters require some special attention. Bringing a professional in to examine all the buildings in the community will help cover all your bases. Water is the enemy of structural integrity, so proper drainage and containment are essential. Keep a close eye out for leaks, cracked siding or roof shingles, loose caulking around windows, and any gaps in the trim or flashing around chimneys. Small issues can turn into big problems very quickly, so be thorough.
Mechanical systems are the lifeblood of a community. They keep everything flowing and moving in the right direction. But these systems require routine maintenance to make sure they are operating at peak efficiency. It’s likely you serviced these systems before winter, and now with the weather changing, they will require another round of check-ups. HVAC systems keep things cool when the temperature rises but coils can build-up dirt and debris, just like most things we’ve been reviewing. Filters too collect dust and other impurities in the air, so they need swapping out at the appropriate time. Also, visit the boiler room to check that all switches, gauges, and lines are in good order and functioning correctly.
The places residents and families spend the most time will always require adequate maintenance and care. Just like the pool area, any play areas need to be examined and cleaned before use. Double-check any playground equipment for rusted or loose bolts and power wash where required. Also, make sure there are no protruding nails or screws, and that wooden equipment has not rotted. Laying down some additional mulch to soften the area or adding another soft surface (if the budget allows) for kids may also be a good idea.
Let’s face it; this winter felt more isolating than most. Cold weather coupled with Covid is not something anyone wants to repeat. Start getting residents excited about the future and let them know their HOA is thinking about them. Put some extra thought into a newsletter and let everyone know about upcoming events, neighborhood activities, recent association news, and any exciting changes. Provide a rundown of the things we’ve gone over here, like when the pool is opening, new equipment installations or additional work, and what that schedule looks like.
Spring is an exciting time of the year in communities. Once those first few rays of sunshine appear, people can’t wait to get outside. Take the time to properly plan, inspect, and maintain everything in the community that the residents love about it. The right property management team can help organize and orchestrate everything so that once the warmer days are here to stay, everything is ready to be enjoyed without worry.