Spring is in the air (for now it seems in New Jersey)! Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and homeowners are emerging from hibernation to tackle their home maintenance projects. For community associations, spring is a crucial time to ensure that Common Elements and areas are properly maintained to avoid costly repairs down the road.
Having handled construction defect litigation matters for community associations over the past decade-plus, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of having a solid maintenance plan in place both in terms of its impact on construction defect ligation matters and on a community’s budget. Not only does it save money in the long run, but it also creates a safer and more enjoyable living environment for residents. But don’t forget, creating a maintenance plan is only the beginning; community associations need to ensure their plans are actually being implemented! So, without further ado, here are some good spring maintenance practices for community associations to properly maintain their Common Elements and areas:
Inspect the Roof: Spring is the perfect time to inspect the roof for any damage or wear and tear. Heavy snow, ice, and wind can cause damage to shingles, flashing, and gutters. Make sure to hire a professional contractor to inspect the roof and address any issues before they turn into more significant problems such as water leaks.
Check the Common HVAC System (if any): Spring is a good time to schedule an annual check-up of the HVAC system. Dirty air filters, worn belts, and other issues can cause the system to run inefficiently, leading to higher energy bills and eventual breakdowns.
Test the Sprinkler System: As the weather warms up, it’s important to make sure the sprinkler system is working correctly. Test each zone to make sure the sprinklers are operating efficiently and adjust as needed. Also, make sure the system is free from any blockages or leaks. A good practice is to get your community’s preferred lawn sprinkler system professional out to check the system before regular seasonal use.
Inspect Exterior Surfaces: Inspect the exterior facades of buildings and common areas for any cracks or signs of wear and tear. This should include, but not limited to, sealants, brick joints, intersections of dissimilar materials, and siding. Address any issues promptly to prevent water damage and further deterioration.
Clean the Gutters: Did you know that failing to maintain gutters can cause interior water infiltration or other damage to building components? Spring is the perfect time to clean out the gutters and downspouts. Leaves, debris, and other materials can accumulate over the winter and cause blockages, leading to water damage and mold growth.
Check Playground Equipment: Spring is a time for children to get outside and play (at least that’s the hope of us parents), and that means inspecting playground equipment. Make sure all equipment is in good condition, free from damage and rust, and functioning correctly.
Perform Landscaping Maintenance: Spring is the time to fertilize the lawn, trim shrubs and trees, and plant new flowers. A well-maintained landscape not only looks beautiful but also adds value to the community.
By following these simple spring maintenance practices, community associations can properly maintain their Common Elements and areas, prevent costly repairs down the road, and create a safer and more enjoyable living environment for residents.
But, let’s be honest, sometimes things can still go wrong despite our best efforts. That’s why it’s essential for community associations to have a solid plan in place for handling maintenance and repairs. This plan should include regular inspections, clear communication with residents, and hiring qualified professionals to address any issues promptly. In establishing a maintenance plan, it’s critical for community association boards and management to understand what is and what is not the association’s responsibility to maintain and repair. Care should be taken to review the association’s Master Deed and governing documents to understand the division of responsibility for maintenance and repairs between the association and unit owners.
Finally, if your community association is in the midst of or about to file a construction defect litigation, you will want to speak with your community association’s attorney regarding the best practices for performing maintenance and repair work while in litigation. Caution needs to be taken to make sure that any work planned by the association is vetted through the association’s attorney to ensure that proper notice is given to all defendants or potential defendants, proper documentation is made of the maintenance or repair work, and that the work is undertaken and planned in a manner that will not prejudice or undermine the association’s legal claims.
By taking proactive steps and implementing a solid maintenance plan, community associations can ensure the longevity of their property and provide a safer and more enjoyable living environment for residents. Plus, with spring maintenance in full swing, there’s never been a better time to get started!