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Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
The multifamily industry is the new El Dorado for investors. Everybody wants a piece of the action. Because there is more money than action available, there are new multifamily developments popping everywhere. On a 5 mile stretch between my work and my doctor's office, 3 new properties are being built as we speak, on top of the 4 or 5 existing. Last I've heard, Silicone Valley is not relocating to Gwinnett County, Georgia. This is all about developers selling the dream to their investors. Fast forward 2-3 years from today, we are going to have a hefty surplus of apartments and an acute workforce shortage. That's when the multifamily industry will meet the real Hunger Games.There is a way to survive it: focus on service. Hiring and retaining the best talent. When it comes to hiring, nothing can replace the human interaction. If you think a software is going to do a better job than a human can, remind me how using the latest miracle talent management program improved your employee retention rate. Having somebody with service background in your talent acquisition department will give you the upper hand over competition. Pay top dollar for the right candidate. Scenario: You want to hire a great service tech, but he is asking for $1.50/hour more than you can offer. This is roughly $3,000 a year. If this guy can save you a resident a month by providing exceptional service(average cost to bring a new resident in to replace a resident that is moving...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
Like most things in life, pipes don’t last forever. To accurately estimate the useful life of the piping systems at your property, as well as plan for maintenance costs and large capital improvement projects, it’s critical to understand how the environment, geography and other factors impact the resilience of those systems. When it comes to different pipe types (i.e., polybutylene, copper, galvanized steel pipe), each has an overall expected usable life based on their material. But when you look beyond the manufacturers’ data and national averages, location is key. With over 25 years of industry experience, we know that in certain areas of the United States, piping systems are failing at a faster rate.  While nationally the average life of polybutylene (“poly”) pipes is 26 years, in states like North Carolina and Virginia, poly pipes are failing up to ten years earlier.  Likewise, for galvanized steel pipes, the average life nationwide is 50 years, but in states like California, we are seeing galvanized pipes fail in as few as 18 years.   We have seen some copper pipes in perfectly good shape at 75 years old, while others have sprouted pinhole leaks at only 10 years of age due to the quality of the copper and the corrosiveness of the water. Cast iron pipe is expected to have a usable life of 50 years or more based on manufacturers claims, but there are reports of newly made Chinese Cast Iron that are failing at a much faster rate. For reasons “why”...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
Polybutylene or “poly” for short was a plastic resin used in domestic water pipes and fittings between 1978-1995.  This gray plastic pipe was installed in up to 10 million garden style apartments, condominiums and single-family homes throughout North America.   Unfortunately, common municipal water additives like chlorine attack poly pipes and fittings, leading to stress fractures and catastrophic failure, suddenly and without warning. In 1995, polybutylene manufacturers paid out a billion dollar settlement, but the timeline for making a claim has expired. For owners and property managers, only a small percentage of polybutylene properties were repiped during the settlement period, leaving millions of feet of defective piping unaddressed.  As a result, the prevalence of poly is still considerably high across the country. The longer polybutylene is in use, the greater the risk of serious complications.  Left unaddressed, polybutylene cracks can result in severe property damage from flooding, mold infestation from undetected leaks, higher insurance premiums or even cancelled coverage, and not to mention – unhappy residents. In recent years, the presence of polybutylene has impacted real estate transactions, both from the buyer side (unable to secure financing or insurance) and the seller side (decreased valuation and increased risk).  Currently, if you buy, sell or refinance a property, most insurers require polybutylene pipe replacement as a condition of the transaction....

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
When you purchase a new automated gate for your apartment complex or multifamily housing property, it’s only natural to want to protect that investment. The fact is, the better you care for your gate, the longer it will last. With proper maintenance, your gate will function and look better, allowing you to make the most of the money you’ve spent. So what goes into proper gate maintenance? What do you need to do to take care of that new gate? Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when you want to keep your gate in great shape, both for now and in the future. Clean It. Wherever your property is — the city, the suburbs or the country — the gate is going to be exposed to dirt and insects. You also might see anything from bird droppings to dust accumulating as time goes by. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give your gate regular cleanings. Depending on the material the gate is made of, and its finish, use soapy water and a cloth or scrubby to give it a good cleaning. Prime It. Starting with a gate that is freshly cleaned and dried, apply primer to your gate to help prevent rust. The beauty of primer is that it extends the life of your gate, helping it last longer with less maintenance. Check It Often. After you’ve added a gate to your property, inspect it regularly. Check the material for wear and defects. Look at...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
  Have you ever worked for a property that is in the process of being purchased by another company? When this happens, do you find yourself scrambling to make sure all your paperwork and maintenance is in order before the due diligence? When the day for due diligence comes it can be a scary process for the entire team. Looking at it from a maintenance standpoint the process of walking with the inspectors into every apartment and having to answer questions about unit readiness can be intimidating to say the least.  It can also determine if you and your maintenance team retain your job with the new management!! Are you vigilant about your work orders? Are your make readies complete or at least scheduled? Were they completed with quality? How do your grounds look? Any unfinished projects? Is your shop in order including all OSHA required items? What about all paperwork required by your management? Do you know where your backflows, sprinkler controls, meters, water shut off valves, fire system controls, fire panels, alarm systems are and who is the vendor for each? Have any remodels done on your property? What was done during the remodel and when? These are just a very few of the questions you may be asked. Long story short, know your property. Work with your manager to keep your property up do date. The better your property looks the more valuable you will be to the new management. ...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
How to get your money's worth when using your vendors   As a maintenance person who has been on a property for a long period of time, it can sometimes hurt our pride to have to call out a vendor to repair something. It happens to all of us, right? Just last week when I was working on a heating unit inside an air handler, I could only get one of the four coils to work. I replaced what I thought was a bad sequencer but to no avail, so I reluctantly called my HVAC guy. About 5 minutes after he showed up I felt like a fool. It only took him that long to show me the one wire I missed that was connected to the sequencer in the wrong location. While we were in the apartment, he discovered that the system was wired to only run two of the four coils. Natural assumption would be if there is four in the system then four should be working right? Wrong. Long story short, my vendor showed me how and why the unit was wired this way. I took the time, as we all should, to learn from him and not just call him out to correct a problem for us. The tricky part can be to find a vendor that is willing to help educate you whereas most vendors aren’t willing to do that. They think, “The more you know the less you need me”, which is often not the...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
The Energy Policy Act of 1992, which became law in 1994, mandates a maximum flush volume of 1.6 gallons for toilets manufactured and installed after this date. Prior to enactment of the Energy Policy Act, toilets used from 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush.  According to the EPA, the water saved through implementation of the act has had a number of positive environmental consequences, including restoration of wetlands and fisheries and savings in the amount of energy needed to pump water. While intended to yield environmental benefits, the Energy Policy Act has unfortunately resulted in some unintended consequences on the nation’s plumbing systems. In older properties, the majority of drain pipes are galvanized steel or cast iron, which over time become corroded and rusty.  When an older property upgrades to low-flow toilets, there is often not enough water to keep waste and other disposables moving through the pipes. Further, as a result of the low-flow requirements, the ratio of water to sewage has changed, making the flow of waste thicker and slower, allowing the build up of bacteria, and producing a corrosive acidic gas that also causes corrosion in the piping system. Often, if the pipe is already corroded, toilet paper and waste can get caught on the rough corroded surface, further exacerbating the problem.  In the end, reduced flow and more concentrated waste result in a rapid acceleration of the corrosion process, ultimately leading to clogs, back-ups, broken pipes and leaks. Corroded drain pipes cause the overwhelming majority of water...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
b2ap3_thumbnail_5345634279_3052f2ee79_b.jpg   "Winter is coming!" No, not THAT winter. Actual winter, which involves actual snow (not John Snow), and more cold-weather related service requests.  When you consider service requests, there's an interesting void that exists in our industry. While these requests are a daily occurrence, they are one of the least likely aspects of the job a leasing agent will receive training on. Typically, one learns how to take a service request by listening to other team members take a service request. The result is often a vague work order that will ultimately require more than one trip to the unit and the maintenance shop. This reduces the number of service requests that are resolved in one day. Which increases both resident and maintenance team frustration.  The answer? 1. As a team, use your work order system to identify the 10 most common service requests received in the fall/winter months.  2. Maintenance team members, walk the office team members through any potential trouble shooting tips they can share with residents for those top 10. If the office team can provide an easy self-help solution, that's one less trip for a maintenance tech! For example, if a garbage disposal is not working, walk the resident through the process of hitting the reset button. 3. For each of the top 10 service requests, ask the maintenance team to identify 5 critical questions they would like the office team to ask when that service request is reported. Using the garbage disposal example, one question...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
Apartments, condominiums and other multifamily facilities are becoming bigger, better outfitted and more beautiful than ever. Adding granite countertops and crown molding might be an excellent way to attract new tenants. However, one of the absolute best ways to entice renters and keep those who already live there happy is by adding outdoor areas for relaxation and enjoyment. Today, an outdoor living area for tenants to gather is more of a necessity for many multifamily housing properties. Here are a few low-maintenance options for improving your property. These will help you stand out in today’s ever-competitive rental market: Rocks, stones and other hardscapes — While grass, flowers and greenery are great, they require work and will have certain seasons that they may not be as beautiful. Adding stones and rocks is an affordable way to add interest and “curb appeal” to these outdoor areas. Picnic tables — Add a couple of picnic tables and you suddenly have the makings of an inviting area. Not only are picnic tables appealing to tenants who want to enjoy a meal outdoors with their family, but these can be utilized for community events, too. Depending on how the sun hits your space, a covered area may be recommended. Bike rack — A bike rack is not only a good addition to your outdoor space, it is a nice offering for your tenants and their guests no matter what. Giving bike riders a place to secure their bikes is very thoughtful and shows that you care....

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
We all know the importance of keeping a sharp mind in the maintenance field, but what about working just as hard on your physical fitness? Most of us maintenance supervisors have been in this game for a while. Many of us are a little older than we would like to admit. We are a wealth of knowledge but are we giving our company and co-workers 100% if we deliberately allow ourselves to get so far out of shape that we are no longer able to convert our knowledge into action? Working out 30 minutes a day will not only improve how you feel, but also improve your ability to get-in-there with your co-workers and not just tell them how things should be done but SHOW them how to do it. If your people are like mine and most hands on learners, they learn a lot better when you physically show them. For those of you who are in the student living side of this business you understand how demanding 7/31 through 8/15 can be! We’re on our feet 12 to 16 hrs. a day, going up and down stairs and living here in Arkansas it’s as hot as you know what!!!!  If you can’t physically keep up, your people will be over worked and looking to you for help but you will have nothing left to give.  Don’t be that guy.  Moral of the story, your fitness affects more than just yourself in your work/personal life. Live Well.    J John Jones...