By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL
I think we can all agree that whether you're a seasoned property manager or building owner, or if you're a rookie to managing property, that there are not enough reminders about Mother Nature changing course, come winter each year!
Weather can be a property manager’s best friend or worst enemy. The key is to be sure you are prepared! Even if you have the best staff and the finest building engineer, double checking the basics while the weather is mild is much more pleasant than learning that something was overlooked after it breaks or bursts in the middle of January, especially when it could have been prevented with a $5 piece of weather-stripping or a $2 valve.
Winter can really cause a lot of trouble for the bricks and mortar of a building, in addition to the windows and pipes. Going over all of the most vulnerable areas early will save you so much grief later on down the road. For instance, walk the lower levels and check the basements or whatever areas are least visited at your property, in addition to all spaces that are vacant.
It is vital that even the smallest pinhole be closed up tight. In a biting subzero winter, a blowing cold snap can pierce through that small hole and act as a razor through any pipe. That type of damage can be menacing and I would not wish it on anyone.
I have learned over the years that you MUST check and double check to prevent a winter disaster. As a force of habit I circulate the below checklist as a tickler to all of my staff in early Fall. It is a simple, yet gentle reminder that we need to make sure we have thought of the obvious before winter sets in. Every year you should pull out your checklist and send it to your team. This will help them to make sure they are covering their bases. Of course in the large properties, these checklists can become quite comprehensive, but regardless of size, these basic reminders are worth their weight in gold.
Winter Risk Management Checklist
Here are some other sources for more comprehensive winterization steps. You may also find some ideas to include in your resident or tenant newsletters:
Have a safe winter!