Director's Corner

Annual Spring Cleaning Tasks

Richard Murray
Director and CondoSTRENGTH Co-ordinator
Management Consultant

 

It may not seem like it yet, but spring is just around the corner.   With that in mind, condo boards should look into some annual tasks.

Landscaping

Firstly, you should have already started, if not already completed, your contract negotiations for your common element landscaping, if you have any. These are usually completed by tender and take a good month or more to finalize.  You will likely use the services of your property manager to garner a list of potential candidates, or you may use your own resources.   Either way, it is really important to get some references if you do not already know a candidate.    Contracts can be for a single season, but many condominium corporations do multi-year contracts to firm up pricing for budgeting purposes.   Showing the potential for a multi-year contract may also create better pricing and better performance, since poor work will jeopardize a larger fiscal reward for a contractor.   Also, in projects such as lawn maintenance and snow removal, the first year of a contract will be a learning experience and the subsequent years will give you the work standards that you really want. 

You will want to have all of the potential candidates walk the site with your property manager so that questions can be properly answered and particular issues pointed out in advance.   It is also an excellent idea to take photos of your site in advance of awarding the contract and providing copies of the photos to the awarded contractor.   This ensures that there are no disputes about the existing conditions of the property prior to the landscaper starting. 

 

Fire Alarm Inspections and Testing

Fire alarm inspections and testing need to be performed annually.  All units should be inspected by an independent inspector, which could be a staff member or an appointed alternate.  The point is that you cannot rely on the honour system, with residents conducting their own inspections; the negatives are just too great.  Often, a specific date is advertised and individual residents are provided with a door notice advising when their unit will be inspected. It is a good idea to provide alternative or multiple dates since people do have their own schedules and you should try to accommodate same.  Due to new government requirements, carbon monoxide detectors also need to be tested. Remember that each level of a unit must have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.  Whoever does the testing should have a few new alarms and detectors for sale when inspecting. Alarms must be replaced every 10 years but the batteries need replacing much more frequently.   Remember also that if a unit originally had a wired alarm, it must be replaced with another wired alarm.   New versions of wired alarms now come with a battery backup. Have your property manager check with a professional fire alarm company to ensure you know how to have everything looked after properly.  You do not want any fire safety issues, since your condo corporation could be held responsible as the occupant of the premises.

 

General Site Inspection and Additional Considerations

General site inspections of all common elements should be done at least twice annually.  By this I mean a full site inspection, not just a quick look around. Look for items requiring maintenance or repair.   Look at everything from a safety perspective.  If you have balconies, check that the support structures are in good condition.   Look carefully at all roads and sidewalks.  Are there any defects or uneven surfaces that could cause accidents? Are all lights in common areas working properly?   If you have a pool, do you have the plans in place for lifeguards, bromine supplies and similar all looked after?   Do any walls in common areas need repainting? 

Do you have an emergency evacuation plan? These should be conducted at least annually, possibly more frequently. Do you have any keyed areas?  Are the records as to access up to date?  Do you change your security codes occasionally?  Now would be a good time to do this.

 

If you have your own private streets, you likely have catch basins that need to be vacuumed out each spring.  Plan for that work now. Do exterior/common windows need to be washed? Firm up your work plans now.

 

In summation, think like a professional and use common sense. By mid-summer, you should be thinking about your winter projects. Everything takes time and not just on your part. A busy contractor cannot just drop what they are doing to give you a quote.

 

While the foregoing is not a complete overview, it should give you enough to get you started in the right direction.  Good luck.