Monday, November 30, 2015

New Property Manager

Premier is happy to welcome a new Property Manager, Cheryl Lallier, to our team. Cheryl started her Real Estate career in 1996 in New Hampshire. She worked with developers and banks, selling and managing Condominium properties. She holds a Connecticut Real Estate License and is currently pursuing a Certified Property Managers Designation. Cheryl lives in Somers on a horse farm with her husband and children. In her spare time, she does volunteer work for Saint Edwards Whole Child Academy in Stafford.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Preparing Your Building for Cold Weather

As the last few years have shown, winter can be an unpredictable time here in New England. Some years, temperatures have remained fairly mild with barely any snowfall, while other years are freezing cold, with harsh winds and major blizzards. Regardless of what the weather decides to do, condo boards, managers and maintenance staff should make sure their buildings are ready — and that means taking care of seasonal winterizing tasks before the harsh weather hits.

Start Early
No doubt that winter is the hardest season of the year in terms of wear-and-tear on buildings. Ice collects in cracks and spaces between bricks and masonry and contributes to fa├žade deterioration; salt stains and eats away at metal and concrete; colder temperatures mean higher heating and electrical bills.  

When it comes to water and cold penetration, windows are a definite weak point. Window frames and sashes should be inspected and repaired before winter arrives — preferably in the early fall. Caulking and sealant should also be checked, as it can become brittle with time. Cold and wet weather is less than ideal for working with these materials.

Also, the steel lintel—the piece of metal over every window head that supports the brick above the window—must be inspected. If allowed to rust, the lintels will eventually buckle and fail, causing the bricks above them to become loose and allowing water penetration and even more damage. Lintel inspections should be done with plenty of time before winter, because repairing them is a major task.  

Cement can't be poured in the winter because of the cold temperatures, so paving pros recommend getting repairs done by October’s end to beat the freezing temperatures. 

Check for broken areas and cracks that could become tripping hazards when hidden by a dusting of snow.

Keep the Heat In
With energy prices high and many buildings watching their funds more closely than ever, conservation has become a serious concern for boards and residents as well. There are a number of measures that a building staff and individual owners can take to ensure that heat is staying inside the building. First, search for areas where heat can escape – windows and outside doors are big culprits. Check the gap between the bottom of the door and the saddle, as well as the gap around the door  frame. For a reasonable amount of money, you can weather-strip the door, not only to save money, but to improve the comfort level inside the units. 

Also, check the basement to make sure no air or heat is escaping. If your building has a boiler system, that should be cleaned and checked yearly as well.

During the heating season, building personnel should closely monitor fuel consumption relative to past consumption on similar-temperature days and address any large increases right away.   

Keep the Rain Out
A building's roof is another crucial component in its ability to resist the cold. Flat roofs should be prepared with an ultraviolet roof coating, preferably before October. The coating is a relatively inexpensive petroleum-based product that is painted onto the roof. It contains reflective silver additives and creates a barrier that will insulate your building and protect it against ice and snow. 

Additionally, roof drains should be cleared to prevent blockages that could cause icy build-up ... and possibly leaks.   

Pitching In
Residents can help prepare for winter by lowering thermostats just a few degrees (and perhaps installing thermostats with a timer feature), and alerting the super or manager of anything that needs to be repaired.  

Don’t wait until the cold weather actually arrives to start thinking about winterizing your building!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Project Spotlight - Wall Repair

We recently completed repair of a large retaining wall at Hamlin Court in Middletown. We'd gotten reports from residents about bricks and mortar popping out of the wall. When we inspected it, we discovered some pretty serious damage, and more importantly, a big safety concern. Water had gotten in behind the brick, and after many years of freezing and thawing, the wall was in very bad shape. Here are some photos:

We worked with several contractors to get bids on the project, and after a meeting with the Board, we hired a local company to work on the project. Their first step was to take down the brick facade. A dumpster was rented, and the demolition began. It became obvious pretty quickly that there were problems. Previously, a section of the wall had been repaired. When the brick face was removed, a pretty nice concrete wall was revealed, and it was cleaned up and painted. Not the case here! What we found was a mess ... broken bricks, concrete pieces and various debris in front of a decrepit concrete wall.

The contractor came up with a plan to remove the debris and repair the concrete wall in a way that would be stable and safe, yet remain affordable to the Association. First steps were to secure the wall to avoid a collapse, then put in wooden forms for the concrete.

Re-bar was added to support the new concrete ... LOTS of re-bar! Drain holes were added as well, to allow water to move away from the wall instead of building up behind it and freezing. The new concrete was poured. After a few days' drying time, the new wall was revealed.

The contractors moved on to the next section. Luckily, there was less debris behind the brick, and the concrete wall was in much better shape than the one next to it. Minor repairs were done, and the wall began to look really nice!

After a consultation with the Board about color and type of finish, a concrete stain that matched the brick building was chosen. Paint was also offered as an option, but the contractor felt that water might seep through the porous concrete and cause the paint to peel. Here's a photo of the wall after a couple of coats of the stain were applied.

We are so happy with how this project turned out, as are our clients. They were very pleased with the contractor's professionalism and attention to detail ... and how quickly the job was completed. What a great way to wrap up the warm weather season!