Preventive Maintenance—No Longer Optional

Preventive Maintenance—No Longer Optional

By James Bourassa / Published May 2024

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What Is Preventive Maintenance?

     Preventive maintenance refers to the routine maintenance tasks performed on the association’s physical assets and mechanical equipment components. It is prudent to have preventive maintenance items on a recurring schedule. Preventive maintenance is performed to help extend the life of the different assets and equipment within the community’s property, decrease repair costs, limit liability, and prevent the likelihood of equipment failure and unplanned downtime. Examples of preventive maintenance include  detailed inspections of the assets and equipment, cleaning equipment regularly to limit dirt and dust buildup, lubricating equipment to limit premature wearing, optimizing energy efficiency, and making repairs and replacing defective parts to prevent equipment failure.

Why Is Preventive Maintenance Critical?

     Associations often offer impressive amenities and services. Examples include recreational centers, buildings, clubhouses, fitness centers, swimming pools, rooftops, and other specialty facilities. Communities that do not invest in a proper plan run the risk of deteriorating at a faster rate, which can result in decreasing property values. Maintaining the value and aesthetics of the association amenities and having a comprehensive preventive maintenance program are key components to a successful partnership between the association and the management company.

Staying Ahead of Issues

     Traditionally, maintenance is more reactive than proactive. This is no longer sufficient to cope with the ongoing maintenance issues an association experiences.

     In January 2022 Florida lawmakers advanced Senate Bill 1702 stating that a mandatory structural inspection program for multi-family and residential buildings taller than three stories and larger than 3,500 square feet must be established. The Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants also states that condominiums with elevators or escalators must be inspected yearly, and buildings with balconies must be inspected every three years.

     Even if the association does not fall under these categories, it’s crucial to conduct regular inspections.

     Inspections can spot any early issues in a building’s foundation, structural and electrical systems, and more. Spotting issues early on can often save hundreds of thousands of dollars and can also protect residents and visitors. 

     Unexpected repairs can be costly, cause unwarranted headaches, and skew the budget. Why wait? It is best to get ahead of problems as much as possible. Boards are impressed with extensive and detailed planning. It becomes a feather in a property manager’s hat.

Who Executes a Preventive Maintenance Plan?

     A combination of on-site staff and vendors perform the necessary tasks outlined in a schedule developed by management. A maintenance supervisor plays a vital role in making sure that the community buildings, facilities, and equipment are maintained properly. His/her responsibilities include developing HOA maintenance plans, overseeing repairs, managing maintenance staff, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. In combination with the property manager, the supervisor also coordinates with outside contractors and vendors, manages the maintenance budget, and schedules regular inspections. 

     Examples of what the on-site staff can do include detailed inspections with documented results and the completion of minor repairs. Larger items such as HVAC maintenance, fire equipment maintenance, landscape hazards, roads, generator maintenance, and roof inspections require the expertise of a reputable vendor. An engineer may also have a role in the process. HOAs, condominiums, and high-rise condominiums all require preventive maintenance on different components.

     The impact of a maintenance supervisor on the community is significant. By maintaining the functionality and safety of buildings and facilities, the supervisor helps to create a positive and secure environment for the community. It is critical that the supervisor and property manager effectively communicate and collaborate. Well-maintained facilities also contribute to the overall aesthetics of the community, enhancing its appeal to residents and visitors. Additionally, the supervisor’s role in confirming compliance with safety regulations and standards helps to protect the well-being of community members. Overall, the work of a maintenance supervisor directly impacts the community by providing a well-maintained and safe environment for all who live, work, and visit the area. 

Putting Together a Sound Plan

     The first step in putting together a plan is to identify all the components and assets that should be added to the list of items to be maintained. Robust software options such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) are available to assist with the process of developing a plan. The system automates inspection work orders and preventive maintenance tasks and documents on-time completions. A CMMS also helps support regulatory compliance when it’s time for an audit.

     The reserve study can be referenced as part of the process as it serves as a checklist. Vendors and manufacturers can be consulted to determine an inspection frequency. Age of the components is a significant factor. The determination of which items can be completed by on-site staff vs. an appropriate vendor should be made. Establishing a system for recording and storing the data that comes as a result of the inspection and resulting maintenance is paramount. Accurate record-keeping is crucial. This is an area where the use of software can be effective.

     Effective planning includes proper budgeting. While some may wish to avoid maintenance issues as much as possible, emergencies can arise when least expected. Whether dealing with a ruptured water line, broken HVAC system, or a kitchen fire, it is crucial that the association has an emergency fund. 

     Setting this healthy budget can prepare you to act quickly to resolve the problem and provide the safest experience for residents. 

     In conclusion, a successful preventive maintenance program requires preparation, planning, and proactive scheduling. A diligent management company can assist in creating a successful program customized to any association. A successful plan is one that provides peace of mind.

James Bourassa

Vice President of Property Management, Seacrest Services

     James Bourassa is a seasoned and experienced professional. In 2009 he made the change to residential property management and joined the Seacrest family. Bourassa served as a community association manager, primarily handling gated HOA communities. He dedicated himself to providing the highest level of service to his community’s board of directors and residents. In May 2018 Bourassa was promoted to the position of regional director and brought his strong work ethic, professionalism, and customer service experience to his new role. As a regional director he continued his growth and knowledge of the industry as well as the art of negotiations, diplomacy, relationships, and leadership. In March 2022 he was named director of property management. In March 2023 Bourassa was promoted to vice president of property management. He is truly a “company man” and is a firm believer in Seacrest and its team. James is a native Floridian and lives in Tequesta with his wife Tara, son Taylor, and daughter Arielle.