Two people in a community working on a preventive maintenance planAs a board member, you know that a preventive maintenance plan is one of your community's top priorities. Like tuning up your car, preventive maintenance helps keep your community’s equipment and environment safe for residents. Comprehensive preventive care can help you detect problems before they become critical, anticipate repairs and replacements, and, most importantly, help extend the life of essential assets in your community.  

Let’s take a look at some of the key components that should be included in a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan:

•    Regular inspections: A core component of an effective preventive maintenance plan is conducting regular inspections of common areas and assets. These inspections involve looking for signs of wear and tear, identifying potential hazards, and evaluating the general condition of the components. Regular reviews identify likely maintenance needs early, allowing the association to address them before they escalate into costly problems.

•    Scheduled maintenance tasks: Maintenance schedules outline the specific tasks to be performed and how often. For example, scheduled maintenance might involve quarterly HVAC system checks or annual roof inspections. Your board should also determine maintenance frequency based on each component's specific needs and the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

•    Proactive decision-making: A well-executed preventive maintenance plan involves making decisions based on the current state of common area components and anticipating future needs. This may include replacing older parts before they fail or investing in updated technology to improve efficiency and reduce long-term maintenance costs. Taking a proactive approach will help ensure that components are always in proper working condition.

•    Detailed record-keeping: Maintaining accurate records of all maintenance tasks, inspections, and expenses is essential to the success of a preventive maintenance plan. These records can help the association track the performance of components, identify patterns or recurring issues, and make data-driven decisions about future maintenance needs. Also, maintain a record of the warranty on your equipment. For a warranty to be effective, the equipment may require a specific type of maintenance. Well-documented records can also prove useful if your association ever needs to file an insurance claim or defend a legal dispute.

•    Regular communication with residents: Successful preventive maintenance relies on clear and consistent communication between the association and its residents. Annual meetings or newsletters can inform residents about upcoming maintenance projects.

A professional management partner can develop and execute a solid preventive maintenance plan to help keep your board in tune with your community’s equipment and service needs. This will ensure your assets remain in good working condition, saving you money by extending the life of all useful components.

“A good management company will aim to understand the unique needs of your community and work together with your board to put a preventive maintenance plan in place,” said Maureen Connolly, vice president at FirstService Residential. “Most condo and community associations have complex equipment and assets and need the support, expertise and resources only a seasoned property management company can offer.”

Learn the ins and outs of capital improvement projects, including their relationship to preventive maintenance, by watching our webinar recording: Capital Improvements – A Blueprint for Success

Now that you’ve read about the critical components of a preventive maintenance plan, you may have decided to create one for your community. So, where should you start? We've put together a list of 5 tips to help you create a plan.

Tip #1. Inventory your equipment

According to Connolly, start by creating an inventory of your community's systems and equipment. "Visually inspect and document your property's equipment, systems, structural surfaces, and paving.” Note when you last serviced your equipment and the name of the vendor who provided the maintenance if you rely on one for repairs. Also, note the equipment's serial number and take a few photos. Visual aids will help your team identify what each asset looks like.

Tip #2.  Document needed repairs

Identifying and documenting the necessary repairs is the next step. Repairing equipment before problems become too large will save your association time and money in the long run. Do you know the equipment’s history? Your property manager should review past repair records and maintenance invoices to help anticipate needed maintenance projects. Create a database of all the items that must be maintained to help you understand what work is needed and when.

Tip #3. Create your predictive maintenance schedule

Predictive maintenance is designed to determine the condition of in-service equipment and estimate when maintenance should be performed. A preventive maintenance program should include a predictive maintenance schedule that will help to identify what equipment is performing at its optimum capacity, what equipment is on a path that will require attention at some point, and what equipment needs immediate attention. Your property management partner should be well-versed in using the latest tools and processes to help you create a comprehensive predictive maintenance schedule.   

Tip #4. Keep your reserve study in mind

Your reserve study should be considered when creating your preventive maintenance program. A reserve study assumes that components will reach their maximum useful life. So, if the preventive maintenance plan identifies that equipment is failing before its maximum useful life, the reserve study and your budget should be updated.

“Protecting your association’s finances from the burden of necessary future expenditures is one of your top responsibilities as a board member, said Edwin Lugo, vice president at FirstService Residential. 

“Annually reviewing your community's reserve study can help you budget for assets that will need to be replaced or upgraded years down the line.”  

Learn more about reserve studies and planning your maintenance and capital improvements by watching Ask the Experts: The Path to a Great Reserve Study


Tip #5. Find the right management partner

Creating and executing a preventive maintenance program for a condo or community association is a big job, but you don’t have to do it alone. Creating, implementing, and monitoring a comprehensive preventive maintenance schedule for your community association is much easier with the help of experienced professionals. A quality property management company will have access to engineers, maintenance staff, and third-party service technicians and vendors, ensuring that schedules are adhered to and the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. 

For more information on how to put a preventive maintenance plan in place in your community, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading property management company.

Friday March 31, 2023