Caribbean Property: Preventative Maintenance

If you already own or plan to own property in the Caribbean, whether commercial or residential, it is vitally important that you take care of your significant asset investment. Unfortunately, many property owners (local and overseas residents) fail to carry out the necessary care and maintenance required to secure their investment and ensure its sustained value.

What is preventative maintenance?
For the purpose of this article, preventative maintenance is the timely scheduled continuous upkeep of your property to ensure that it is kept in a good state of repairs, can be comfortably utilised for the purpose intended and able to achieve the maximum dollars based on current market value at the time should you decide to sell it.

Prevention is better than cure
By failing to pay attention to certain areas, your property will deteriorate leading to more costly repairs or total replacement of certain items due to complete failure. Preventive maintenance activities that property owners should undertake include, but are not limited to, termite treatment, penetrating damp, treating wooden flooring, roof repairs, plumbing, electrical fittings and repainting of both internal and external walls. In addition, element deterioration can have a serious impact on external walls, windows and doors.

Further examples of preventative maintenance is trimming of trees and shrubs away from the foundation of the home and ensuring there is no wood-soil contact around the perimeter of the property. These conditions attract termites and carpenter ants which can lead to structural damage. Trimming of the trees overhanging power lines or the roof need also be taken into consideration, especially where gutters are blocked by deteriorating leaves. Taking preventative measures such as these can save the expense and environmental impact of using chemicals to contend with wood-destroying insects or electrical disruption.

Another area where preventative maintenance is often overlooked by property owners is the cleaning of manholes and grease traps holding the grease and other unctuous substances from kitchen waste.

Costs
Homeowners should expect to spend between 1% to 3% of the value of the home on annual home maintenance and repairs to ensure it is kept in a fully functional and economically viable condition. Preventative maintenance reduces energy use, improves indoor environmental quality, extends the life of property and equipment, and saves money over time. Regularly maintaining your property and appliances will undoubtedly save money over time by reducing the frequency of repairs and replacement.

By keeping your property and appliances in good order will ensure that the resale value and attractiveness of the asset remain current and maximised.

It is well worth commissioning an annual property condition report so that a planned preventative maintenance program can be implemented.

Benefits
Not only does preventative maintenance have great implications for the health, safety, and comfort of the occupants of the home, but it will also affect the home’s environmental impact and financial performance. Effective maintenance goes a long way in preventing the need for costly repairs and equipment operations. In addition, a well maintained home will always increase resale value, subject to market conditions at time of sale, of course.

Below is a reminder list of some of the activities that should be implemented as part of your property’s preventative maintenance program:

Roofing

  1. Inspect at least twice per annum and prior to and after severe storms/hurricanes.
    Clear roof drains and surfaces of all debris.
  2. Examine perimeter and inspect metal sheeting, coping, eaves, ridges and previously repaired areas.
  3. Check roof-wall connections and inspect flashing for damage of any sort.
  4. For bituminous roofs, check for cracks or splitting in the plies.
  5. As far as possible avoid traffic on your roof to avoid membrane of sheet covering damage.
  6. As appropriate have framing structure and ceiling bed (where applicable) inspected to ensure no termite intrusion or otherwise damaged timber frames.
  7. Ensure all hurricane straps and other structural elements are firmly in place and functional.
  8. Ensure that all leaks or moisture intrusion are identified and corrected in a timely manner.
  9. Create a roofing inspection file as a record of all inspections and repairs conducted to that area of the building to inform future related action and potential owners.

General

  1. Plumbing and drainage
  2. Electrics
  3. Painting and decorating
  4. Floors and walls
  5. Fire protection control and alarm
  6. Windows and doors
  7. Heating and air-conditioning
  8. Landscaping and gardening
  9. Driveways and pavements

Insurance
A most vital element in the preventive maintenance program should be the mitigation of losses due to unforeseen circumstances. Of much significance is the need for property insurance in order to protect your significant asset.

Property insurance can be of a general nature to cover such things as fire, flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes and other similar occurrences.

In the settlement of insurance claims a well documented maintenance program could prove very valuable in assisting with the speedy settlement of claims, as your records of maintenance activity would be readily available.

And when it comes to furniture and personal possessions in your Caribbean home, if you value these, then be sure to protect them by having a contents insurance policy in place.

Article by Maureen Smith, Caribbean Property Consultant, Tropical Connections

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