We all know that supplemental fees and increasing condo fees are the last thing owners want to consider, especially when it’s for something that doesn’t typically impact your day-to-day life in your home. However, preserving your building envelope can be the best proactive investment your association makes…just ask any owner that has paid a special assessment for an annoying leak that turned in to a major building facade job.
Want to get the maximum number of years from your building’s exterior and not lose your wallet or wage war with your fellow neighbors? You need a maintenance plan that the association must stay devoted to and in addition to that, here are the 3 biggest property maintenance and construction mistakes you should try to avoid:
1) Neglecting your roof until it leaks or endlessly patching to avoid a replacement
Aside from being a money pit, a constantly leaking roof can lead to a civil war among affected unit owners and the Board. Also, what may seem like a minor drip, could be the tip of an iceberg: things like mold and wood rot could be hiding behind painted walls, causing illness to those with sensitivities and also an attractive breeding ground for certain types of insects. What’s more, insurers these days typically do not cover mold and remediation is very costly.
Avoidance will turn in to more money spent than just addressing the issue head-on. A proactive tip is to schedule annual inspections by your roofing vendor. They will survey the structure, clean out gutters, clear drains, and patch or repair vulnerable areas. They will also inspect and repair copper downspouts and detailing, roof flashing, and other metal finishes that may deteriorate or leak over time. Regular visits from the same vendor will become an excellent resource for planning out the expected life span of your roofing materials.
If you already have a leak and can’t seem to chase it down, a structural engineer will be your next best resource. They will pinpoint a targeted approach and can also help create a scope of work to ascertain bids from multiple vendors. That way money isn’t wasted on guesswork and a clear plan can be made.
2) Neglecting your masonry and not making regular annual inspections
Masonry and brownstone deterioration can be major sources of water infiltration in a building. With New England’s extreme weather conditions, it’s especially important to put forth a little preventative maintenance to avoid any surprises. Each year the freeze and thaw that occurs will break open cracks in deteriorating brownstone and masonry, allowing water to enter your building and cause damage to interior infrastructures. Often times buildings will go through cycles of chasing elusive leaks year after year, patching and repainting the interiors of units only to find that they have wasted time, money, and patience on a leak that was coming from masonry and has now damaged interior wooden structures.
Most roofers may even note masonry issues on chimneys when they are doing a roof inspection, however it’s best to have a structural study performed every 5-years by an engineering firm. These envelope studies include a thorough exterior review by a structural engineer that explores each surface of your building. They will let you know areas of weakness, targeted advice for immediate repairs, and expectations over the coming years. This tool will allow your association to plan appropriately and fund future projects for re-pointing masonry or performing brownstone patches.
3) Neglecting paint and exterior wood repairs
In addition to roofs and masonry, the last important area that should always be maintained on a regular cycle is exterior wood and paint. Performing an annual visual inspection each spring on window sills, dormers, siding, and any other painted surface will ensure that wood rot or decay doesn’t go unnoticed. Rotten sills can contribute to masonry damage, since water will filter down past the sills in to exterior walls and freeze during the winter. This will cause the cracks and damages noted earlier.
Every Association should build a 5-year painting plan that rotates the annual maintenance and painting of the building’s exterior. This will ensure that each area is tended to and repaired as necessary, preventing a larger and more formidable project down the road that could require assessments and financing. The exterior envelope study performed every 5-years can be a good tool for planning your starting point.