For a while, it was hard to believe spring would ever come, but May is here and we’ve hit the ground running. It is, perhaps, the busiest time in property management.
Your manager is busy making lists of things to be addressed following the long, cold winter season. The inevitable list of crushed downspouts. There are plenty of pet and plow sod damage letters to be written. Summer project planning starts ramping up. And the spring/summer meeting schedules start filling up. One thing each Association should consider is a spring walk-through of the buildings and grounds. Each Board is different in how they handle it. Here are a few common approaches.
Some Boards like to walk around together with the manager. More eyes can be a good thing. Additionally, it is nice to review things together to gain consensus on projects and how to prioritize tasks. The difficultly with this approach, however, can be finding a respectful understanding with your Community Manager. Scheduling can be difficult—remember that managers are already working evenings for Board meetings and emergencies. Managers have a checklist and a methodology they follow, and the distractions of homeowners coming out to say “Hi” and the unavoidable “say, while I have you here…,” can make for an extremely long and cumbersome inspection.
Board members only. Sometimes it is helpful without the manager, who sees the property on a frequent basis and is always looking for maintenance items. As managers, we can be guilty of developing tunnel vision. If a Board is going to take this approach, it can be helpful to divvy things up. For large and expansive communities, print a site map and assign areas. Or, if you’re doing it together, assign components. Someone looks at landscaping, another Board member inspects the concrete, etc.
Sometimes the Board doesn’t want to be involved and will leave it up to the manager. There is something to be said for this approach. A manager is not biased, and he/she is trained for this activity and has tools and templates to make it an effective and efficient inspection.
Another approach to truly getting a fresh look and a professional perspective is to bring in an expert. If you’re looking at a specific issue, take roofs for example, many roofing companies may offer to do a free or low-cost inspection.
Documentation may be the most important component of a thorough spring inspection. If you’re doing it as a Board, utilize a spreadsheet with columns of important items to check (windows, landscaping, etc). Be sure to take pictures. They can be incredibly valuable for rule violations, warranty claims, contractor negligence, repair bidding, and more. If the site visit is left to the manager or an expert, you can be assured they have their methodology for documentation.
Whatever route you take, spring inspections are incredibly important to document winter issues, and to prepare, prioritize, and position the community for a great summer season.
Happy spring walking!