A PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE PROGRAM
It’s the big day - your brand new apartment community is
completed, lease-up is moving faster than anyone expected, new
residents are moving in, and life is good! And no worries about
maintenance - it’s a new property, so everything is under warranty
and your subcontractors are just a phone call away. After all,
you’ve bought the highest quality supplies and appliances, and you
won’t have to worry about maintenance problems for a couple of
years, right? NOT!
Right now is the time to create a comprehensive preventive
maintenance program that will allow your top quality materials and
appliances to function effectively for many years to come. An
effective preventive maintenance program accomplishes two goals:
A common example of preventive maintenance is changing the oil in
your car. Every car comes with an owner's manual, and that manual
contains a "schedule of recommended service." (It's not really
recommended, it's mandatory, because if you don't do it, it can void
your warranty!) By changing the oil at the recommended intervals, you
will prolong the life of the motor.
If preventive maintenance is such a great idea, why doesn’t
every property have a program in place? Do any of these sound familiar?
"We just don't have the time." "We just don't have the
money." "We just don't have enough people on staff."
“We don’t have any time, money or staff!” These may all be true,
but regardless of the reason that you don’t have a preventive
maintenance program, you will inevitably have to make the time, find the
money and hire the people to repair the results of NOT having a
preventive maintenance program - does the phrase “Pay me now or pay me
later” ring a bell? And unlike your car, which just leaves you
stranded when it quits, a breakdown in an apartment will anger the
resident, strain your staff and budget, and ultimately result in higher
turnover (read: LESS CASH FLOW!)
Just because the property is new doesn’t mean that you won’t
need preventive maintenance. If you're convinced that preventive
maintenance is a necessity, here's how to get your program started.
IDENTIFY WHAT ITEMS NEED TO BE INCLUDED IN YOUR PREVENTIVE
MAINTENANCE PROGRAM, and
DEFINE, IN WRITING, WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO EACH ITEM.
is a list of the most common items to include in your program and what
should be done for each are:
Since each property is different, this is not a complete list.
For example, a high-rise building will probably have elevators, fire
sprinklers, and a central HVAC with a chiller tower. By doing a complete
walk through of the property, you can create a list of everything that
will be included in the program.
To determine what needs to be done to each item to maintain it,
talk to your suppliers and subcontractors who sold and installed each
item. Service booklets with maintenance schedules and requirements are
typically supplied with appliances and equipment.
DETERMINE, IN WRITING, HOW OFTEN THE ITEMS NEED MAINTENANCE.
Each item needs to be inspected regularly. Again, ask the
manufacturer, read the service book, and talk to the subcontractors to
come up with a schedule. Using the list above, add a “frequency”
W=weekly, M=monthly, Q=quarterly, S=semi-annually, A=Annually,
SR=ANYTIME A SERVICE TECHNICIAN IS IN AN APARTMENT!
of the most cost effective ways to provide preventive maintenance (say
that three times fast!) is to have your Service Technician perform a
“mini-maintenance” on each apartment when they are completing a
service request. After completing the service request, the Service
Technician can check all faucets for drips, flush the toilets to see if
they run, check all the window screens, graphite the locks, check the
HVAC filter, etc. This “mini-maintenance” should only take five or
ten minutes, and the inspection can be noted on the service request.
4. CREATE A WRITTEN SCHEDULE OF INSPECTIONS AND MAINTENANCE.
Now that we know what needs to maintained and how often it should
be checked, we can create a schedule. The most commonly used preventive
maintenance schedules list the items vertically on the left side of a 12
column pad, and then use each horizontal column to represent a month,
giving you a form that can be used for annual, semi-annual and quarterly
inspections. Make another form with a 13-column pad to get your weekly
schedule. Make up one of each for the property and each building,
listing all exterior and common area items. Create a second set of
schedule forms for each apartment in each building, listing only the
interior items. Put your "master copy" of each schedule in a
safe place so you can make additional copies as needed.
Once the basic schedules are complete, bring them to a print shop
and have them enlarge the schedules, printing them on heavy card stock,
and cover them with acetate film so they could be written on and erased.
(Make sure you use ONLY the an erasable marker pen for writing on the
film.) The schedules can be mounted on plywood and hung in the
maintenance shop. Update the preventive maintenance “boards” by
taking information from completed service requests. (NOTE: ANY WORK
assigned to your service staff, ESPECIALLY preventive maintenance work,
should be issued on a service request.
5. CREATE A WRITTEN INSPECTION/MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST.
The same schedules we just prepared would also be used as the
manager's preventive maintenance checklist. The manager would update
their schedule from the one posted in the shop, and then perform spot
checks. Any work marked complete but not complete would be assigned on a
service request, and assigned. In addition, find out why the work
wasn’t completed and address the problem immediately: Not enough
staff, unusually high workload that month, staff needs training, etc.
Douglas D. Chasick, CPM®, Adv. RAM, CLP, is The Apartment Doctor™, a Multifamily speaker and consultant specializing in restoring rental health to ailing apartment communities. Doug is also the Multifamily Distance Learning Consultant for CallSource. You can reach Doug at 888-222-1214, by writing to Doug@Aptdoctor.com.
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