Outdoor spring maintenance tips

Management should focus on detail-oriented tasks like cleaning, planting and painting
Monday, April 7, 2014
By Jessica Green

The end of winter heralds a sense of renewal, so now is the time for property owners and managers to refresh their building and focus on outdoor spring maintenance projects.

“Although we are taught to never judge a book by its cover, we all do,” says Simone Webb, director of leasing and marketing at Starlight Investments. “Curb appeal forms that critical first impression and attention to detail sends a subtle, yet powerful, message that you care.”

Webb points to edging walkways, cleaning windows, pressure washing and painting as fast methods of enhancing a building’s exterior, while staying within a budget.

As the snow recedes, a season’s worth of sand, gravel and other de-icing accessories are left behind. Sweeping them away from walkways will make an immediate difference, leaving a property looking clean.

Spring also affords management the opportunity to plant the flowers that will bloom around their property in the summer.

Once the snow has melted completely, seeding the lawn will pay off after the April showers, bringing flowers and a lush look to the entire site. Management should plant flowers for optimal exposure, such as along the walkway leading to the front entrance, all around the ground floor and near the base of small trees.

Staff should aim to use colours that will attract foot traffic — bright yellows, oranges and reds are more appealing than a solid bed of darker brown and purple flowers

Summer facelift

The summer months are the ideal time to undertake large outdoor projects that will work to enhance the overall look of a property. By this point, flowers have sprung to life and the rain has eased up.

One of the most significant projects that management can undertake is painting, which can include entryways, balconies and perimeter fencing. Although they certainly won’t have to invest in a full-scale painting job each year, managers and owners should monitor the exterior of a building to see where paint is chipping, and ensure that spot-treatments are attended to. If the current paint job has faded, or it has been more than five years since the last time your building was painted, it’s time for management to call in the big guns.

Of course, exterior maintenance is not limited to painting. Owners and managers should take care of sagging gutters, rotting wood on balconies, torn window screens and potholes in the parking lot. In fact, a smooth, restriped parking lot can have as much impact as brand new balconies.

And on that note, management shouldn’t forget to remind residents that balconies are not for storage — especially when it comes to units facing the street.

Of course, the usual summer maintenance of mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, picking up trash and trimming trees and bushes around the site will be the attention-to-detail edge that will put a property in a league of its own.

Improving overall appearance

“Improving the exterior presentation of an existing rental high-rise can be an expensive undertaking,” says architect David Binder, president of Hanard Investments and Rosebind Developments.

Having won the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario’s 2013 MAC Award for Outstanding Curb Appeal at 30 Carabob Ct. in Toronto, Binder knows first-hand the positive impact of investing in a property’s rejuvenation.

“The inevitable time comes in the life of a building when, due to age, windows must be replaced, balconies restored, and garage slabs rehabilitated. We look at these projects not only as rehabilitation efforts, but as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to significantly improve the appearance, organization and function of a building exterior for a relatively small additional cost.”

So what does such a colossal undertaking look like?

Binder says that everything is carefully thought through, whether its geometric patterns, window materials and colours, and balcony-guard replacements. Everything is considered with the intention of calming and organizing the building facade, he says.

“Stripping garage top slab affords us the opportunity to re-arrange walkways, planting and lighting in a way that accommodates and enhances the pedestrian experience, and most importantly, establishes a strong discourse between the building and city street — which is so often weak or entirely absent,” Binder says. “This is when the areas outside of a building start to feel more like urban spaces for pedestrians rather than just spaces.”

Focusing on a building’s exterior during the spring and summer can have great rewards for property owners and managers. By paying attention to detail, management can satisfy current tenants and help draw in new ones.

Jessica Green is the founder of Cursive, a Toronto-based communications consulting firm that specializes in brand messaging with an emphasis on digital media strategy in the real estate sector.

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