It is beginning to be frosty in the mornings and soon enough we will be fighting Winter temps and conditions so having the right steps in place can make all the difference.   Whether you have an office building, a retail center or other rental property you should have a good plan in place to be sure that when the really harsh weather hits, you are not scrambling looking for a quick fix.  Hopefully the list below will provide some guidance and suggestions to keep you out of the cold.

  • Ice melt – You hear horror stories about landlords being sued for putting ice melt down and someone still falling, because it was not good enough.  Boo hoo on that.  I suggest you do everything you can to keep your building tenants and visitors safe, which is a ready supply of ice melt for those first big hits.  In busy winter markets ice melt seems to fly off the shelf and don’t even bother running to Lowe’s the day a storm hits because they will most likely be out.  Depending on the size of your property it may be beneficial to contact an industrial supplier and order in bulk for 2 reasons; pricing and availability.  You will get a discount for starters but you will definitely not run out if you buy a skid of product and stick it in a corner.  Ice melt is a big deal!
  • HVAC – Your old rickety system is going to break at some point but winter is not the time to deal with it.  If you are not on a regular maintenance program you should get your technician out as soon as possible for a full inspection and servicing.   I am surprised at how often a building owner waits until something completely fails before they service it which causes down time and upset customers.  Have a technician test your equipment completely, change filters and do a full service which will ensure that your chances of failure are minimal.  Do this while its still nice out during the day which will make a happy service tech as well.  A well running system will save you money and time in the long run so don’t wait until everything breaks before you ask for help.
  • Doors – There is this cool test hvac engineers run that shows how much energy or air is lost at a doorway and its shocking.  New buildings rarely have a big problem but if you have an older building or doors that just don’t seal well, now is the time to address this.  There are many ways to correct a leaky door and replacement is not typically necessary but the difference in a building with cold air coming in and hot air going out is tremendous as well as the cost savings over time.  Your hvac system is meant to heat your space and that is all so a leaky building will cause your system to overwork and eventually break after running all the time.  You will also see a reduction in cost typically when you seal off the building from these pesky leaks.  Having someone check out each exterior door and window is well worth the service call and expense for repairs but something you should address long before that first snow.
  • Snow Plow – Ya you have a cute little snow blower you are always excited to pull out of storage and use during that nasty storm, but is it really the best plan?  No.  Reach out to several local snow removal companies which are typically landscapers during the summer and have them give you a quote and draft contract in advance.  You need to know that when it snows a certain amount they will be onsite clearing driveways, sidewalks, steps or paths that get people in and out of your building safely.  Understand when you will be taken care of and what that cost will be in advance because it can be expensive for 1 and you may be last in line, both of which can be frustrating.  This should be an automated service with full understanding of what your costs should be and when you should expect the clearing to occur.  This is no time to just pick the least expensive just for the fact that someone times paying a little extra is worth the responsiveness and not having to worry about it when it comes.
  • Floors – You can walk into a building and immediately tell when they have not been well maintained during the winter.  The salt will pit floors and discolor most any surface if not properly coated for the season.  Take the time to reseal any hard flooring that you may have and put a sweep, mop and wax plan in place during those months.  With carpets be sure to have nice floor runners that extend way beyond just 1 step but enough length to clear shoes naturally.  While they do not keep all the dirt and salt from coming into a space, accompanied with a regular vacuuming and the above floor care schedule you will be surprised how much easier and safer the floors maintain.  And not just dirt, be sure to have accessible tools to keep a floor dry as people are entering a building.  Its easy for a little bit of snow or slush to cause a slip but a quick mop or squeegee will make everyones life a little bit easier.

While there is no foolproof way to keep a building in perfect condition during the winter there are many things we can do to prevent panic and accidents.  Put your team together and have a plan in place to knock out these small tasks now because a month from now we potentially could be in the middle of a snow storm or even worse a ice storm and you will not miss a beat.  Good luck!

Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 10 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage.  He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments.  Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area.  Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time  volunteers with Westfield Youth Assistance and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.