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MCL March/April 2014 - Carin's Corner
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Carin’s Corner - Spring Walk-Throughs: Timing is Everything

By Carin Rosengren, Keller Property Management

Carin RosengrenIt takes a favorable combination of circumstances to pull off a successful walk-through, but when it comes together, there’s no better way to get board members, vendors and property management on the same page for the association’s upcoming season of activity.

First and foremost, there’s the weather. It’s hard to forget last year, when the calendar said that spring had arrived but our seasonal service vendors still had plow attachments instead of trailers full of mowers and trimmers. Spring walk-throughs had to be put off until the snow melted, and by that time the landscapers were so behind schedule it was difficult to get spring cleanups done.

The weather plays an important part in a productive walk-through. A downfall of doing one too early is that it may cause us to see problems that will resolve themselves as the weather warms. If you look too soon at driveways, sidewalks and fences for needed repairs, you might be looking at frost-heaved components and causing unnecessary calls to the vendors who would make these repairs.

Second, there’s the scheduling. What’s the best day and time to get the most people involved? When it comes to walk-throughs for an association, there can never be enough sets of eyes, so setting a date and time when the most board members can attend is critical to its success.

The date-and-time dilemma extends to any vendors you want to have come along. It might be the general contractor who ultimately will receive the punch list created, or the landscaper who will replace trees, shrubs and do the irrigation, or the concrete and asphalt representative, the roofer, or whoever. Having these folks present can eliminate a lot of back-and-forth afterward about what needs to be done and about the association’s expectations.

A spring walk-through is also a great time to get a close-up inspection of individual units and any violations. What’s not great is finding a lawn full of pet waste that accumulated, under the cover of snow, all winter long – but getting a head start on compliance practices that will last through the summer can save loads of time down the road. I like to bring association sticky notes and business cards to alert residents on-the-spot about what was found around their homes.

Finally, having experienced eyes and good communication goes a long way toward maximizing everyone’s time during and after a walk-through.

I recall the year one of my boards decided to conduct their walk-through on a weekend I was out of town. They generated a long list of items for repair including missing shingles and crooked fences – easy enough to spot – but they also found more than a dozen pieces of siding with holes that needed to be replaced.

I dutifully typed up their list for the general contractor and sent him off to make repairs. He dutifully came back and reported that he couldn’t find any siding with holes. It is just fine, he said, leaving me baffled and prompting me to do a second walk-through of the property. As it turns out, what the board members thought to be holes were clumps and spots of dirt. It’s true that from a distance it’s hard to tell the difference, but the result was time wasted by the contractor and by me. Another result of that incident was that it was easy to convince the board of one more needed expense: it was time to take bids for power-washing.

 

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Monte Abeler at montea@cai-mn.com, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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