Why Spring for Cleaning and Maintenance?
Cleaning and maintenance are activities that arguably must happen all year round. Common areas, restrooms and grounds would quickly be overrun with filthiness, if left un-checked. Broken pipes, fallen branches and other maintenance summoning occurrences are not confined to happening prior to spring’s arrival, and need to be addressed as they happen during the year. Spring, however, is a time for a closer look. The brighter natural light from the sun, which now takes a higher path across the sky, illuminates the dirt, grime and wear that we may have missed during grayer winter days. In cooler climates, receding snow and frost may reveal broken pipes, compacted soil or other damages that were previously masked. More daylight hours also mean there’s more time to dedicate to readying properties for the remainder of the year.
Delaying Spring Cleaning Can Be Costly
When it comes to taking care of commercial real estate properties, building managers need to think like the ant from Aesop’s ancient fable. Deferring maintenance is not just bad policy, it can have a negative impact on property value and can become a serious financial liability. Depreciation on property that is not well maintained can be characterized by an inability to attract new tenants and maintain existing ones. A study by the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association found that a property that makes a good appearance can hold 4.4% more value.
Areas That Need Focus During Spring Cleaning
Winter leaves behind a lot of dirt and destruction, so there’s several spring chores that should happen every year. A conscientious property manager will make sure these are taken care of, so that their buildings are always seen as neat, tidy and functionally sound.
Public areas like parking lots, patios and sidewalks are great places to start your spring program. Parking lots full of salty residue or freshly crumbled asphalt can be dangerous, in addition to being unsightly. Winter wear will be prevalent in warmer climates as well. Comparatively colder temperatures can cause pavement damage, and wind and runoff may have also caused trash and debris to accumulate near curbs or sewer drains and should be cleared. This kind of clean-up removes corrosives and surface dirt that could be tracked inside the building, causing wear-and-tear on carpets and hard surface flooring alike.
A weather stained exterior and salt or hard water caked on windows is just plain unsightly and cuts down on sunlight entering the building and inhibits tenants’ ability to look out. Take the opportunity to pressure wash exterior walls, windows and other hard surfaces. Pressure washing is a great way to remove general grime and caked on substances like gum, tar and mildew. While you have the ladders out, don’t miss the opportunity to clean gutters or other drainage systems.
Landscaping maintenance is probably one of the more obvious maintenance activities associated with spring. Use this time to re-plant damaged plants and shrubs as well as plant annuals for a seasonal pop of color. Prune trees carefully to promote healthy growth, but maintain shade. Now is also a good time to replenish mulch which will help with water and soil conservation. Your gardeners will likely recommend fertilization & weed control programs for lawns, trees & shrubs – all good things to do now.
Don’t forget about the interior of your building. Clean windows inside and any shades or other coverings. Use a steam cleaner to spruce up carpets and entry mats. While you’re at it, use the steam cleaner on common area furniture. Check for other signs of wear. Do indoor plants need to be freshened-up or replaced? Stairwells, storage areas and other public or shared spaces should also be checked for seasonal damages.
Go a Little Deeper With Spring Cleaning and Maintenance
Don’t stop your spring cleaning at curb appeal items or those that promote tenant satisfaction. Be sure to pay attention to items that hold hidden costs if maintenance is foregone. This is a good time to make sure you avoid fines or other headaches for things like being out of compliance with workplace safety standards or lack of accessibility. While adherence to certain regulatory standards can be costly and time consuming, replacing spent bulbs in “exit” signs, adding slip resistant tape to staircases or ensuring an adequate number of accessible parking spaces are more routine activities that can be quickly checked off. There’s a handy checklist for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and another from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for conducting a self-inspection.
Show Off Your Success
Once the work is done, don’t miss the opportunity to show off your efforts. Spring is also a great time to attract new tenants or celebrate your existing ones. Hold a small reception or an open house and let people know the steps you’ve taken to keep the property looking good.