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Strata Solutions: Annual Maintenance Planning for Condo Buildings

Does your condo building have a robust maintenance plan in place to keep things ticking over? Here’s what it should include, by the experts at FirstService Residential







Window cleaning apartment building

A maintenance plan is a great tool for organizing and discussing a strata corporation’s property repairs and maintenance. What the plan looks like depends on the building type and age, as well as the strata corporation’s finances. Maintenance plans come in a variety of different formats, from brief outlines, to comprehensive multi-page reports. Regardless of the situation, an ongoing plan for preventive maintenance can extend the effective life of the property and increase its value by:

  • Increasing the life of building components;
  • Improving a community’s visual appeal; and
  • Increasing residents’ pride of ownership.

What Goes into a Maintenance Plan?

  • Required maintenance: This includes anything your strata corporation must do to be compliant with the BC Safety Authority and government authorities, such as your city or fire department.
  • Regular maintenance: This is maintenance that is not legally mandated. Most people think of it as preventive maintenance (cleaning, painting, etc.). It also enhances curb appeal.

Required Maintenance

Backflow Devices

Strata corporations are required to annually test their backflow prevention devices. This helps ensure that they are functioning properly to prevent water from the building flowing back into the city line. Cities in BC have become increasingly stringent about enforcing testing requirements.

Roof Anchors

These safety devices, which are attached to the building exterior, are used by trades such as window washers that require fall protection equipment. Roof anchors need to be certified by a specialized company each year and it is best practice to post the certification at the access point to the roof.

Emergency Generators

Some buildings have emergency generators that typically can provide emergency power for lighting and one elevator. The last thing community residents want to discover during a power outage is that their generator is not functioning properly. Strata Corporations are expected to test and check their generators, which is recorded in a log kept on site.

Fire and Life Safety/Elevators

A strata corporation must perform a variety of testing under different frequencies. Contractors provide a copy of test results that the strata may have to provide – along with proof that they have fixed any defects – to fire inspectors upon request. Recently, inspectors have focused on parkade fire doors and storage areas because of their susceptibility to fires.

Mechanical/Electrical/HVAC

This equipment requires a wide range of inspections. A unique requirement is the testing of CO2 sensors, which are located in the parkade. These turn on the parkade fans if the CO2 level from car exhaust becomes too high. Strata Corporations must also maintain and test the communication links between the fire panel and exhaust fans.

Regular Maintenance

Window Washing

Most strata corporations have their windows cleaned a minimum of once a year. Two methods to wash windows are with a tucker pole that extends to about 50 feet and allows cleaning from the ground, or by hand washing using a bosun chair or ladder. Give residents a set time to report deficiencies once work is complete.

Landscaping

An annual walk-through with the strata corporation's landscaper can help identify issues that may affect the Strata Corporation's maintenance plan. Has your strata council considered artificial turf? The main benefits are that it needs less maintenance and is dog-friendly.

Janitorial

Remember to consider budgeting for both regular cleaning and deep cleaning. Deep cleaning includes items such as scrubbing the complete garbage room, thorough cleaning of stairwells, and detailed grout cleaning. A way to reduce costs is to encourage residents to sort waste correctly and break down boxes they are discarding so that janitors do not have to do it for them.

Power Washing and Parkade Cleaning

It is a good idea to pressure wash the front of the building at least once a year. Hot water pressure washing can remove items like gum. Parkades can be cleaned by pressure washing or power scrubbing. A great option for dusty parkades is a mid-year power sweeping.

Carpeting and Flooring

Regular vacuuming not only helps maintain carpets, but may extend their life. On average, a strata corporation may want to have its carpets cleaned once a year by a professional cleaner and spot-checked quarterly. For tiled areas, cleaning grout regularly and having it sealed at least once a year can reduce cleaning costs.

Painting and Mill Work

When it comes to painting, prioritize the building's front entrance and lobby. These areas have the greatest impact on property values. Rotate painting of hallways so that, for example, north hallways are done one year and south hallways the next. Although mill work is often forgotten, it is important to budget for repair of the wood trim in the lobby and common areas.

Dryer Vent

Dryer vents can be cleaned from the interior and exterior. It is important for the Strata Corporation to create a policy on who is to conduct the interior cleaning of the dryer vents. As fire codes become stricter on cleaning frequency, more Strata Corporations may find it worthwhile to take responsibility for interior cleaning.

Role of a Strata Manager

Since each strata corporation is unique, it is important that the strata council and owners discuss their vision for what is to be included in a potential maintenance plan. From there, your strata manager can work with your strata council to create a plan that reflects your directives and particular maintenance focus.

Want to Learn More?

Click here to watch short videos on maintenance planning from FirstService Residential’s recent educational seminar “Annual Maintenance Planning.”


FirstService Residential in British Columbia is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, a global leader in the rapidly growing real estate services sector, one of the largest markets in the world. As the leading property management company in North America, FirstService Residential oversees more than 6,500 residential and commercial associations including 1.5 million residential units and over 50 million square feet of commercial space across three provinces in Canada and 21 U.S. states. The company has more than 12,000 employees driving local market expertise and manages in excess of $6 billion in annual budgets.
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