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The Hidden Truth Behind Maintenance Expenses

maintenance expenses“Here’s the list of the supplies that we need.” Maintenance Expenses is often the expense area where there always seems to be more month than dollars in the budget. Every week a stock of supplies is ordered, often overrunning the budget established for resident repairs and vacant apartment preparation. Explanations for the variance report list the number of resident service orders, unit inspections and a move out with a high volume of damages.  But this is what we face every month at our communities.  I think its possible to create some structure behind maintenance purchasing.  Not only will this assist in managing expenses against a budget.  It will also provide detailed explanations when future budgets are presented for review.  Explanations to increase the maintenance budget because it’s an average of what has been spent, or an increase because surely supplies will cost more in the future; are not very effective arguments to defend expense increases. Creating a plan starts with an overview of the schedule for the property for the upcoming month. Turnover Expenses How many apartment homes will be prepared for move in? Generally there are ten to fifteen items that are purchased for every  apartment being prepped. replace the sanitary items in the bathroom. caulk for the countertops in the kitchen, vanity top and shower area in the bath. drip pans for the cook top. The list of items with pricing information is going to outline the anticipated expense for apartment turns.  This amount applied to the number of apartmen......
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A Buyer's Guide To Gutters And Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are the unsung heroes of your property’s exterior. Although many property managers worry about keeping their roofs in good condition, they don’t always pay as much attention to their gutters and downspouts. That can come back to haunt them because of how important gutters and downspouts are for protecting a property from water damage. Out of all the components that make up a property’s exterior, gutters may be one of the most important. What that in mind, it’s important for property managers to understand how the style and construction of the gutters they choose for their property affects the level of protection they receive. The average downspout can direct as much as 12 gallons of water away from a property during a 1-inch rainfall. That’s 12 gallons of water that otherwise could end up pooling around the building’s foundation, seeping into tiny cracks where it will expand and damage the foundation as it freezes in the winter. Those 12 gallons of water also could end up getting under siding and causing mold and mildew growth without gutters and downspouts to direct that water away from the property. Although it’s certainly important for property managers to have their gutters cleaned and inspected by professionals on a regular basis, they also need to be aware of how their gutters will stand up to the rigors of protecting their homes. The shape and materials of gutters and downspouts all have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and they may impact how often they need to b......
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The Importance of a Strong Lead Maintenance Person

Over the years of investing in real estate, I have learned that building a great team is one of the key items you want to focus on before you take over a property. One position that I have seen overlooked many times has been the lead maintenance person. This person is key to your success in so many ways you really want to look high and low to find the right candidate. The lead maintenance person is much more than someone who knows how to fix a leak or patch a wall, this individual will be in direct contact with all of your residents/tenants and be the person that can take a load off your office staff by being the first line in addressing angry resident/tenants that want something fixed or changed immediately. When searching for a good lead maintenance person, I would suggest seeking someone that has all the skills you need to handle the maintenance requests that your property has, but also look for someone that can be the leader outside of the office. We have found that individuals in this position have decreased our expenses by simply having the ability to communicate with each of our residents/tenants including the children on property, especially the teenagers. Here are some other things to consider: The ability to lead their team is something to take a long hard look at, get solid references from previous employers if possible as their previous team can give you some great insight. Be sure they......
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Maintenance Communication; Is Too Much Ever Enough?

If this is the way you do business I’m not interested in any bid you may wish to submit Thus ended an interaction with a contractor that I had contacted to come out for a bid on some work at my house. (I honestly didn’t think trying to get people interested in taking my money for repairs would be this difficult!) I’m needing some pretty specific tree trimming and for my roof to be replaced. As a homeowner these would equate pretty well to a resident calling maintenance for a service request. This entire experience is a great reminder for the importance of communication when providing maintenance service. I’ve found that just getting a call back from companies is more difficult than I would have thought. Some of the contractors only want to respond by email… What if the job is more detailed than I can tell you by email? What is the method our residents want to let us know of service needs? More and more communities are looking for automated methods. Those methods only work if there is a monitoring culture in place. If the resident has sent a request to us through an impersonal means such as text or email, how is the resident assured that the request is received? Is there a responsive culture in place and does the resident know what happens next?  I can’t tell you how many online requests for a call back I’ve sent in to different companies that have yet to respond… Wonder why I’m not g......
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[VIDEO] Energy Intelligence Webinar: Part 1 Air Conditioner

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Paul Rhodes, NAAEI’s National Safety and Maintenance Instructor, offers insight and recommendations concerning onsite tasks that make smart use of energy-efficiency, presented in association with a grant from Yardi.

In this video created by NAAEI, Paul Rhodes covers various tasks that can be performed by on-site apartment maintenance technicians to ensure energy efficiency of air conditioning equipment.

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Property Management: Betting on Service

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......
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Know the Life Expectancy of Your Community's Pipes – Before they Fail

Know the Life Expectancy of Your Community's Pipes – Before they Fail
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” these certain......
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Polybutylene - 20 Years Later

Polybutylene - 20 Years Later

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.

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How To Maintain Your Gate

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 the paint, ......
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The hidden benefits of doing a good job

 

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.

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