Ben Franklin was an early advocate of preventive maintenance. He wisely wrote: “A little neglect may breed mischief… for want of a nail, the shoe was lost: for want of a shoe the horse was lost.”
Our founding father understood that when seemingly minor repairs are overlooked, they can turn into major problems. In my profession as a wood repair specialist in San Diego, I see this all the time. For example, a small amount of water intrusion through the flashing can lead to major dry rot, structural problems and expensive repair bills.
Preventive maintenance is critical to managing a single home or building or a large portfolio of properties. When a maintenance system can extend the useful life of a building, it also extends a homeowner’s, HOA’s or property manager’s bottom line.
How does all this relate to deck repairs and exterior damage?
First, do not be reactive. Take the proactive approach. If a tenant calls about rain gutters dripping on the front porch, this means that damage is already being done. Instead of reacting to a problem, create an annual schedule for inspections (individual homeowners can do this for their property too). Inspect the rain gutters, look for signs of rust or flashing on decks and provide full termite inspections for each property.
Your vendors will be happy to point out problem areas and give an estimate for repair. The next step is planning what needs to be addressed and when. Ask the inspector/vendor to prioritize the bid into 3 areas:
1. Health and safety (must do now work).
2. Should be done in the next 3 to 6 months.
3. Can wait to do so you can plan and budget for the repairs.
We’re pretty sure Ben Franklin would have agreed with this advice. Being proactive takes work and planning, but it can also prevent a lot of mischief and a big repair bill!