Basic Answers to Maintenance Questions Who? What? Why? And How Much?

For the average condo owner juggling work, kids and family and taking care of one's home can seem daunting. Just remembering to take out the trash and wash the windows once a year can require elaborate checklists and days of planning. Now imagine staying on top of all that—in addition to mowing lawns, cleaning pools, patching roofs, fixing signs and a million other tasks—for 50, 100 or 200 homes. It's enough to strike fear in the hearts of many brave souls. Fortunately, most property managers are well-prepared to care for the homes in their charge.

So what are the most important maintenance issues facing managers and building staff? And what questions should boards and residents be asking to make sure everything that needs to be handled is being handled? The following are ten areas that most co-op and condo managers would concur are paramount to a well-run, efficient maintenance system.

1) Does my co-op or condo community have a calendar to schedule our community's maintenance needs?

As with any large-scale project, organization and planning are the keys to success. Elaine Warga-Murray of EW Murray Associates Inc., in Howell believes deeply in the power of the calendar to make sure that no item, no matter how big or small, gets missed.

"It's important to have a master calendar that includes all maintenance: monthly, cyclical and seasonal," she says. "The calendar should establish all the categories of maintenance services— lawn, snow clearing, etc.—and then identify which staff members or contractors will be assigned to the job."

To really achieve a thorough plan, the manager can then have specifications for each task, identifying what materials should be used to undertake that task and how it should be completed.

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