Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Spring Walk Abouts – and Often Overlooked Items
From the Volume 12, Spring 2022 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
Spring has sprung and its time to stretch our legs and walk around the property to notice maintenance items. Sounds easy, right? Not all site walks are productive and often there are items that are overlooked. We have put together some suggestions on items to look at to help keep your major components in good order, and to hopefully reduce the long term effects when not properly maintained.
A good rule of thumb to have a successful spring walk is to send out a communication to owners about two to three weeks ahead of time advising owners that the site walk will be conducted, and for the owners to advise the Board and Management of any areas of concern they have noted. The key is to get this feedback in a timely fashion so that the list can be compiled accordingly, and so the site walk is efficient and methodical. If the same items are reported consistently the Board may wish to have a contractor specializing in that area attend the site walk to review with them. Having a contractor attend enables the Board to better understand the issues found, the causes of the issue and to obtain pricing on a course of action to remedy the situation much faster.
Eaves Troughs and Downspouts
Over the winter has debris settled in the eaves, resulting in overgrowth of vegetation or blockages? If residents are reporting overflow during rain, there is likely a block along the trough or even in the downspout. Or perhaps the eavestrough needs to be redirected to flow properly.
A good practice would be for the Board to visually examine the eaves after a rainfall to see if there are points in the trough that seem to be “leaking repetitively” versus normal after the rain style dripping.
As well, when performing the spring walk, it is good to take a look at the downspouts to make sure they are still attached to the walls, lined up where they should be and take a look at the bottom where the water comes out to ensure that the splash pad is still there and no ground is eroding. Over the winter, especially in the higher winds the straps holding the downspouts to the building structure can become loose or the screws snap, allowing the downspout to shift.
A visual review of the roofing structure will help identify any areas that shingles may have dislodged in the higher fall/winter winds. Ensuring these are secured in a timely fashion will help keep internal damage repair costs to a minimum.
If your condominium has a flat roof, perhaps having regular condition assessments performed may be something you wish to consider to note and address any deficiencies early.
These can be at the front or back of the units, or in various areas of the common elements. A quick visual review to ensure all are lined up flat and haven’t sunk/heaved over the winter is a good idea to reduce any tripping hazards and reduce liability for the corporation.
A yearly review will help the need to replace or address full patios or walkways that can become costly. If the walkways/patios are reviewed yearly, early issues can be addressed, stopping them from becoming worse.
A quick visual review to ensure all fence boards are where they should be, and no fences are leaning is always a good idea when conducting a site walk. Fences are notorious for “heaving” in the winter months so a good rule of thumb is to have these looked at each spring, which, if kept in a repaired state, will keep your fencing stronger and help expand the life span of the existing fence. Some Corporations take this one step further and power wash their fencing to have a clear protective stain coating put on.
This would apply to all sorts of condominiums. Cladding can be shingles, siding, brick, stone, etc. Ultimately you are looking at the cladding of your condominium to see if anything has come loose or appears to be “moving”, or any bricks seem to be deteriorating (or cracks in the mortar are present requiring tuck pointing), any shingles or other finishes on mansard style roofs have come loose, etc. Noting and addressing these required repairs early will help prolong the overall life span of these components and reduce the potential for water to enter the structure causing damages.
This can apply to all condominium types as well. Townhomes may have individual garage doors so examining if the doors are well kept – or perhaps may require maintenance to tighten the panels. Is rust present; is paint required on the doors or trim;, or has anyone damaged a door?
Some townhomes have underground garages much like buildings may. Examining the garage for signs of water entry, concrete delamination on the walls or roof, or even if there is pitting starting on the floor. Is the membrane coating still in good order? Have parking spaces been damaged by leaking oil? All of these items being noticed early and addressed will help prolong the life span of the garage structure.
All driveways should be checked for both horizontal and vertical cracks. Many times, cracks will develop alongside the curve/edges. If there is a lot of cracking in the first 18-24 inches you may only have to repair that area. However, this is a lot cheaper than replacing the whole driveway.
During the winter, the driveways will heave and when they thaw, they can sometimes drop between 1.5 and 2.5 inches at the garage door entrance. The greatest concern will be the heaving of the driveway caused by the frost. If the driveway looks like a roller coaster, its suggested to replace it because it has now become a safety hazard.
The same checks are involved as driveways. Look for horizontal and vertical cracks, these can be filled quite easily. BUT – where the problem may occur is how far apart the lines are. Also, if there is any gravel like substance on the road it can be a more serious problem.
Watch how the asphalt walkways and pathways are flowing into the sewers. Too much of a water flow, or excessive cracking around the sewers could cause a weakness around the perimeter of the sewers and cause them to sink, needing costly repairs. Addressing these concerns early can alleviate these costs.
Back/Front Steps and Patios
If the steps are cement, there could be deterioration along the perimeters, or visibly delaminating. Chips will be seen on the ground to let you know there is a problem.
Fixing it can also create another problem, you will not be able to match the old and new cement, or the product may not properly adhere. Do you paint it /replace it, or just live with it?
Wooden steps should be visibly reviewed, and deficiencies should be apparent. Repairs to these areas can be planned with other items that may require lumber repairs found on the site inspection.
Another item that Boards need to look at on their walkabout is the property itself. Have the residents put anything that can be considered illegal, not approved by the Board or looks really out of place. Items such as fire pits, hot tubs, flower gardens on the common property, etc. These have to be taken care of right away and followed up to ensure completed, whether it be removal or sign off on a Section 98 agreement.
You may also wish to look at paintable surfaces, to see what can use touch ups or what needs to be looked at as a larger project. Some sites have wooden signs that can use a refresh every few years to keep them looking well kept. Other surfaces such as door/garage door frames, doors, window trim, etc. can be inspected in order to keep these surfaces looked after as well.
Are the signs of your site up to date, with appropriate bylaws, and in good appearance? Or are they fading, no longer appropriate, etc. This is a great time to see what state signage is in and update accordingly if needed.
Although this is always a hot topic in condominiums, we don’t always recommend that Boards address these concerns at walk arounds. Often at times landscaping can take more time than anticipated to review, and if the landscaping concerns are lengthy, it may be best to schedule a site review for that purpose on its own and have the landscapers attend. This allows for a more thorough discussion and having the contractor in attendance can achieve immediate answers for the Board and a plan of action developed.
Obviously if the concerns are very minimal, landscaping could be reviewed at the walk about and a separate meeting would not be needed.
Gail Cote, OLCM, RCM
Condominium Manager at Property Management Guild
Condo Board of Director, WCC439
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