August 27 2014

Condominium Spring Preparation Checklist

It’s getting near the time of year where areas that get snow during the winter are starting to experience melting snow. For managers of apartments or condominiums they’ve got some serious work to do. Here’s some tips to make the job as safe and efficient as possible.

  1. Clear the areas where people traffic first. When the weather starts to clear a lot of them will have ‘cabin fever’ and be eager to get out and around. Another reason to clear those areas first is because you don’t want any of your residents to slip and fall.
  2. Clear the kid’s play areas early too. If you’ve got play areas where kids will be, clear those areas too. Kids don’t fall as ‘hard’, and they tend to bounce more, but you still don’t want anybody to get hurt. Also, parents will be wanting to get their kids out of the house.

    3. Try to let the sun work in your favor. If you’ve got shaded areas on your property, try to coordinate your work crews to work on those areas when they get the most sunlight. It’ll make the job easier

  3. Clear parking areas as soon as possible. People will tend to want to go shopping when the sun starts to come out and it gets warner. They’ll be driving more, in some cases, so get the parking lot clear quickly to make it easier for them to access their vehicles.
  4. Get those stairs clear of snow and ice ASAP. In many cases stairwells will not have been exposed to snow coverage but for any that were, and might still have some ice or snow on them, get them clean (and SAFE) as soon as possible. Some people will be focusing on the pretty weather and they’ll forget that the stairs, just like the roadways under a bridge, tend to stay colder longer.
  5. Work around your residents’ schedules. Take into account those times when you’ll have more walking traffic around your property. It might be hard to do but do the best you can. You don’t want your snow removal crews to be impeded but you also don’t want them to impede normal activities of your residents. Sometimes you might want to have your crews work on certain areas either very late or very early.
  6. Use eco-friendly ice-melt/removal compounds if it’s appropriate. Lots of building managers use various types of chemicals that accelerate the melting of ice. It makes sense to speed the job up in certain areas of your property. But if you do use these compounds, be sure it’s safe for kids and pets and also vegetation (i.e. relative to any run-off from it).
  7. Be sure to give your residents advance notice. To the extent possible, be sure to give advance notice to your residents when you have snow removal work scheduled. You don’t want anybody planning some sort of function that might impede your work or which your work might endanger.
  8. Be sure to have safety precautions if you’ve got crews working on the roof. If your people are up on the roof, or if you’ve got contractors up on the roof removing snow, be double sure there’s safety monitors and /or some sort of clear posting of danger warnings down on the ground.
  9. Keep icicles off the roof at all times. During the winter you should have your maintenance personnel keep icicles off the roof eaves at all times. They can be very dangerous both physically and legally.

These tips will get you started. Most experienced property managers will have their own routine they’re very familiar with as well as a crew who can do this kind of thing almost in their sleep, but when you’ve got hundreds of residents to worry about, it’s always smart to ‘stay professional’ and organized.

August 09 2014

How To Weed Out Bad Construction Companies… 7 Tips

In life, we all need other people to help at various times. While it’s always nice to know who we’re dealing with, there are unavoidably times when we’re forced to deal with a service contractor that we don’t know. In times like those most of us grit out teeth and hope that we’re making a wise choice but, with the proper strategy it’s possible to minimize your chances of getting ‘shafted’ by an unscrupulous construction company.

Here’s 7 tips on how to weed out bad construction companies:

Tip #1:Appearances count. Most scammer construction companies know that too and they’re hard to spot because they ‘look the part’, but there are some scammers who are new to the game and they do leave indications of their bad intent or poor qualifications of such things as (a) unprofessional attire (b) no business card (c) no markings on their vehicle… etc.. Just use your eyes and see if they look like somebody who’s successful and/or serious about doing and staying in business.

Tip #2:Have some idea of what the range of prices should be and be very wary of a ‘deal’ that sounds too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is because all these guys operate under pretty much the same cost constraints.

Tip #3:Ask for references. 99.99% of companies should have them. Be cautious if told that ‘we just changed our name’ or ‘I’m from out-of-state and nobody around here knows me’ or something like that. It’s not your job to give newcomers a chance. Insist on several references and take the time to call them. And don’t forget to do a Google on the company and the person’s name.

Tip #4:Get everything in writing. It’s that simple. This is business and certain protocols apply. If the even any disagreement arises, you’re ‘up a creek without a paddle’ if you don’t have everything in writing. Don’t settle for any of this, ‘My word is my bond B.S. and a handshake is good enough for me’.

Tip #5:Trust your gut feelings and intuition. If you make a mistake, then most probably the company will just find another customer somewhere else. But if you go with a company that you really didn’t feel totally comfortable about to begin with… you’ve only yourself to blame for the misery you’ll suffer.

Tip #6:Always get a second opinion. Matter of fact, there’s really nothing wrong with having somebody with you who has more experience in negotiating with construction companies (assuming that’s what kind of job it is). The person you’re talking with won’t like it but even Kings have multitudes of advisors so…. two heads are better than one.

Tip #7:Always get duplicate bids. The bid is what it all comes down to. Contractors can say and promise anything but what finally makes it to ‘paper’ is what counts so that’s what you need to compare. Don’t worry about making too much work for the contractor because, if they’re any good, it’s all done on a computer anyway.
Those 7 tips, if you’ll observe and do them, should protect you from getting scammed. It happens to people every day but it shouldn’t happen to you if you’re careful.