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Preventive Maintenance for Common-Interest Communities

Sep 20, 2010 | Archive, Blog, Text Only Article | 0 comments

The basic goal of preventive maintenance involves noticing small problems and correcting them before major ones can develop. This attention to detail can create an intangible effect of well-being for residents and visitors alike, regardless of the age or style of the complex. Further, a well-maintained property reduces long-term maintenance costs, extends the life of components (which reduces reserve contributions), reduces the likelihood of special assessments, minimizes liability issues, fulfills many of the Board’s responsibilities, and increases marketability.

A few simple rules regarding routine maintenance can help a community keep its common property in good condition.

Rule 1. Keep your eyes and ears open.

When something does not look right, or sound right it probably is not right.  Be aware of your surroundings. Enlist the aid of your neighbors to keep their senses tuned to any issues that arise in your community. If something seems amiss, move quickly to Rule 2.

Rule 2: Create a checklist.

A checklist, customized for your property is most important because the five senses are not always enough to remind you of those recurring needs that do not signal their presence until something fails, and the problem is much bigger. Think “Routine Maintenance.”

Rule 3. Investigate promptly.

Often a noticeable annoyance can turn out to be a bigger problem than it first appears.  Little things can turn into to bigger things rather quickly.

Rule 4. Fix it fast.

Get the required tasks underway, and finished, as soon as possible. (But do not rush the actual job, of course).  Inanimate things do not heal themselves.  A leaky faucet or a squeaky ventilation fan motor will not come around to right by itself.  If it cannot be done by a skilled homeowner volunteer with enough time and expertise to do the job right, seek out a professional, without delay.  Some jobs are actually dangerous to undertake without proper training, specialist tools, or safety gear.  The CAI website has a directory of service providers.  Small problems always become bigger problems over time. Bigger problems always cost more, take more time, and cause more annoyance or aggravation.  Just do it. The cost will assuredly prove to be a savings in short order.  Pay now or pay more later on.

Rule 5. Keep good records.

In this busy world, who wants to try to remember everything that needs to be done, everything that has been done, and when, and by whom, and for how much?  Secure a bound maintenance book, or keep a computer file (backed up, of course).  Make note of who, what, when, where and how, as well as how much.  Color code your categories, if that helps. Keep the book or file where it can be found by you and, as importantly, your successor.

Common problems at common ownership properties are many and varied. A few to be aware of at a typical Condominium property include the following:

-Caulking joints

check for cracked, missing or brittle caulk

-Deck support posts

check for decay

-Deck surfaces

perform routine cleaning

-Deck Coating Damage

burn holes, cracks

-Dryer Vents

check for lint build-up: fire hazard

-Exterior lighting

gaskets should be water-tight


check for soot build up

-Gas Fireplace Vents

Charred metal vent surfaces


Watch for overflow staining, add clean-out devices, and diverters where roofs connect to walls

Disconnected downspouts

Crushed, broken, damaged sections


Check for leaks, and protect from freezing


Check all horizontal and almost flat surfaces , and remove moss regularly


Touch up small areas of chipped or flaking paint

-Rail Caps

Replace cupped rail caps with sloped caps to preserve entire rail assemblies


Prevent organic material such as algae and moss build-up in valleys and on roofing materials

Repair or replace loose, damaged and missing shingles or shakes

Check cable, vent pipe and skylight penetrations annually

Check for, and correct water ponding areas during rainy season


Check for loose siding boards or shakes

Check for and repair areas of dry rot / decay

Check for buckled or cupped siding

Check for dirty or algae-covered vinyl siding

-Soffit Vents

Check all vents to ensure a free flow of air

Check for staining, as this might indicate condensation or other water intrusion


Check for worn, rotted, loose or slippery treads, risers and stringers/supports/connections


Check for failure of gasket seal/moisture between double panes of glass

Checks for leaks around the window frames

This is not an exhaustive list, but should suffice for most communities with a little editing. A customized Maintenance Plan is a good idea for larger or more complex communities.

By Ken White, AIA, RS

President, Construction Decisions, Inc.

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