Thinking about cutting your maintenance costs? Think again

24 November 2020

Maintenance costs are a big part of your co-op’s annual budget. Unlike with your mortgage, insurance and property taxes, you can decide to cut your maintenance costs. And we usually think that lower costs are better.

But wait! With maintenance costs, lower might not be better. Lower maintenance costs might mean that you’ve stopped taking care of your property.

You need to balance maintaining your co-op with keeping costs affordable. To reach that balance, you’ll need a good maintenance plan.

The Benefits of Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance allows you to keep your co-op in good repair now, while protecting it for the future.

Planned maintenance means you can

  • schedule work in advance
  • do the work at members’ convenience
  • avoid paying high costs for emergency maintenance
  • bundle work together to get a better price
  • take the time to get good value through competitive shopping practices
  • avoid dipping into your capital reserve fund early by keeping your property in good repair

If it is not planned maintenance, what is it?

Responsive maintenance. This is work you couldn’t anticipate but have to do. Like making repairs when work orders come in from members. You may have to fix a leaky toilet, a broken window, or almost anything, right away.

Planned maintenance reduces the need for more costly responsive maintenance. Things kept in good repair break down less often and rarely need replacing. Although there will always be responsive maintenance, keeping it to a minimum will keep costs lower.

So we should get a maintenance plan. What should it cover?

A good plan tells you

  • all the work you’ll need to do
  • who will do the work
  • how much the work will cost.

Making a plan like this looks tough…

Yes, but you can get help. Use the Agency’s Guide to Maintenance Planning in Your Co-op.

The first step in making the plan is inspecting your property. You’ll find useful inspection forms in the Guide. When you have finished the inspections, roll up the forms into a master report. That’s in the Guide too.

Use the master report to plan the timing of your maintenance and decide who should do the work.

The Guide gives the life cycles of the different components and systems in your building and property. (The life cycle is how long something will last.) Consider these life cycles in deciding when you will need to start the different projects.

The Guide also has standard prices for building components and systems. Use them to cost out your maintenance plan.

Tough but worthwhile

Setting a maintenance plan is a big job, but not one you’ll need to do every year. Yours should be updated every five years. You could also hire an expert to prepare the plan.

A good maintenance plan will help you

  • meet your responsibilities to your members by keeping their units in good repair
  • keep up with local property standards
  • save money on emergency repairs and early replacements
  • strengthen your co-op's curb appeal

So don’t cut your maintenance costs and think this is saving the co-op money. By avoiding maintenance expenses now, you’re preparing for higher expenses later. Instead, follow a good maintenance plan and set a budget that supports it.

Contact your relationship manager at the Agency for more information.

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