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Performing Preventive Maintenance is Key
Peggy Vyborny

Owners need to know the condition of all residential and commercial properties. When was the last time you performed regular maintenance? Do you have a regular maintenance schedule? To avoid headaches and possible lawsuits, make sure you know the answers to those questions.

How to Track Progress

To ensure that your maintenance program covers all the bases, regularly take stock of every piece of equipment on each property, including elevators, HVAC systems, pumps and motors. Be sure to include structural components, such as roofs and supports.

For the exterior of a building, check the foundation walls, including waterproofing, and window seals, including repairs and possible replacements. Inspect the fasciae and soffits and take a look at the condition of the exterior painting. Finally, review the grading and drainage around the building.

Interior “hotspots” that deserve attention include:

  • Moisture control systems;
  • Drywall installation and repair;
  • Interior painting;
  • Carpet replacement;
  • Mechanical system repair;
  • Plumbing and electrical repair; and
  • Appliances.

Have an inventory that describes each item fully, including the manufacturer, operating procedures, if applicable, location within the property, and any details about purchase and existing warranties. The inventory should also state where to obtain needed parts and service. This schedule can help management quickly assess the condition of fixed assets and helps transition the task if a new person is put in charge of repairs and maintenance.

When to Schedule Inspections and Repairs

Determine the types of inspections and preventive maintenance that should be performed on each piece of equipment and structural component. Note how frequently these tasks should be done. You’ll need to check some maintenance items weekly, while you can inspect others less often. Program routine maintenance reminders into a smartphone calendar — or write it in a day planner — to stay on schedule.

For equipment items, develop a schedule that outlines when each item needs to be cleaned, lubricated, serviced or overhauled. Keep a list of spare parts that should be kept readily on hand. For structural items, add a to-do list for periodic inspections related to painting, patching or similar maintenance issues.

Work with your property manager and maintenance supervisor to develop a realistic schedule for needed tasks. Create a formal schedule for fixed asset repair and maintenance and assign your property manager to update this schedule. Create checklists that facilitate daily, weekly, monthly or even seasonal reports. Then implement a system for issuing work orders and monitoring task completion.

How to Estimate Costs

Assess how much time the preventive maintenance program will require and develop cost estimates that are realistic for both the budget and level of work involved. In some cases, it may be cheaper to replace an outdated asset, rather than maintain it.

For example, many older buildings use old electrical or plumbing systems that might be expensive to maintain. You may be able to reduce monthly utility bills by replacing the entire systems. Moreover, equipment will likely last longer, deferring replacement costs, and major equipment breakdowns will be less frequent.

The building owner might also benefit from a tax credit for energy-saving equipment, together with Section 179 expensing or other increased depreciation write-offs, in the event of an equipment upgrade. But, before you start upgrading at random, make sure you evaluate whether the financial benefits of the upgrades over the long term outweigh the costs.

Maintaining accurate records will help you determine whether time, money — or both — can be saved by simply performing certain maintenance activities less frequently or whether certain items should be inspected more often. Keeping good records can also help verify whether your maintenance personnel are performing needed tasks to your satisfaction.

How to Avoid Headaches

Performing routine inspections and maintenance is more than an occasional occurrence. Stay on top of repairs and maintenance on all your buildings to avoid unnecessary headaches.

For more information on smart buildings, contact Peggy Vyborny at [email protected], or call her at 312.670.7444. Visit to learn more about our Real Estate Group.

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