Property Maintenance For you

Things you should think about 

Serving townhouses and brownstones in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and Bushwick since 2005

Here are some things to think about before hiring a property maintenance service for your townhouse,  multi-family residential properties or commercial property in Brooklyn. - Barnabas Uba Shakur, Property Maintenance and Snow Removal Expert

 

THINKING ABOUT SNOW

RECURRING PROPERTY MAINTENANCE SERVICES

 

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

SERVICE PROVIDER AREAS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Should I do the property cleaning myself?

    • If you can spare 2 or three days a week, EVERY week to perform the mundane task of maintenance. You can save a few bucks by cleaning yourself. 

    • Here are some things to think about, during the snow season for do it yourselfers:
      • ​Before shoveling, warm up and stretch. Avoid eating or smoking just before shoveling, as either will affect blood flow.

      • Remove smaller quantities of snow as opposed to large amounts. If there is a lot of snow fall, remove it in layers.

      • When shoveling, stand up right, bend at your knees and use your hips and thighs to lift or push snow. Be careful this easy job can have an untrained person visit the ER.

  • Should I hire a tenant or family member?

    • No! Not unless you want to fire your nephew and stop speaking with your sibling because of it. When dealing with maintenance, unless that tenant or family member REALLY understands your legal, accountability and commitment needs it is better to use an entity that does. 

    • Consider the tax deductions that may be available to you, family member's and tenants typically do not provide the documentation for your tax needs.

  • Are professional maintenance services expensive in Brooklyn?

    • Prices vary greatly. It comes down to the services you receive, communication, payment methods and documentation.

    • There are very few companies which specialize in ​residential property maintenance services in Brooklyn. However, in many cases property maintenance is part of a package offered by a property management company. In these cases it can be expensive if you don't own much real estate. Find out from the property management company how much your maintenance services are. 

    • If you don't need a property management company, find a maintenance company which specializes in property cleaning for townhouses and small multi-family residential properties in your area.

  • Is property maintenance tax deductible?

    • Most property maintenance costs are tax deductible for landlords of rental properties.  Just be sure the company you choose keeps great records and send monthly and/or annual statements and talk to your tax professional if you have any questions specific to your unique situation..

  • How important is experience when choosing a property maintenance company?

    • Experience is important since it allows companies to grow from earlier failures and developed strong systems. Companies should have excellent communication systems in place, great accounting and proven reliability. Check their online reviews.

  • What kind of payments should a company accept?

    • You definitely want a company that securely accepts all major payments; paper, plastic and draft.

  • Pricing information

    • Be wary of companies that make it difficult to find their pricing information online. Some services require a custom quote based on several factors, but a professional company should list some standard uniformed prices online. This shows respect for the customer and provides cost transparency.

  • Contract components 

    • We've seen several one page contracts that are not detailed enough for property maintenance services. Make sure the company's contract includes details about the following areas:

      • Service details

      • Weather & safety cancellations

      • Service cancellation

      • Term of agreement

      • Payments & due dates

      • Late fees

      • Defined access areas

      • Indemnity & Ticket management

      • Notices

      • Amendments/modification

  • How does the company handle accountability & documentation? 

  • What is their schedule & availability?

    • Ask about blackout times in their schedule. Do they have any? What is their policy on emergency requests or issues that arise outside of regular business hours? 

  • How can I check references? 

    • You can ask cleaning companies to provide references, but it's a good idea to check out yelp and other review sites. Also visit their social media page and do some research. If they send you referrals it will be their favorite clients. 

  • Should the company offer multiple plans?

    • Yes, don't get cornered into a cleaning program that provides too much or not quite enough for your property. Make sure the company has a variety of options to choose from.

  • Should the company have a standard uniform?

    • Yes, your property likely has tenants, make sure any company you work with provides uniforms and/or badges to make their staff easily recognizable. 

  • Who provides the supplies?

    • For most services the cleaning company should provide their own supplies. There are special circumstances when a property owner wants a certain product or bag used, in those cases the owner can provide the items.

  • What you need to know about snow! 

    • How to effectively Shovel Snow

      • The best way to effectively shovel snow is to hire the Foot Soldiers. People who shovel snow are built for that work. Homeowners who are not used to bending, twisting, and tossing snow can hurt themselves. 

    • What can happen if you don't shovel your sidewalks, driveways, walkways, etc. when covered in snow?

    • What steps can you take prior to a snowstorm to help control the accumulation of snow on walkways? 

      • We are in New York City, a lot of people walk through the streets and compact the snow to the ground, thus creating ice. To limit or avoid this, properties should always be pretreated with a safe anti-icing product to reduce (not eliminate) icing. Never pretreat properties with salt! It is cheap and corrosive, owners will pay for it in new sidewalk and steps. Instead, use calcium chloride (our preferred product) or magnesium chloride. Always pretreat your property at the threat of snow. Work smarter, not harder! 

    • What kind of shovel(s) should be used to efficiently shovel snow? 

      • Owners should use plastic shovels with steel or aluminum tips. Metal shovels will damage staircases. Sometimes you have no choice, if there is ice, a plastic shovel will not work. To use plastic shovels homeowners should pretreat their property then shovel within 8 hours after the snow is complete. If there is ice use calcium chloride and wait 15 minutes. Using ice choppers are also helpful and should be in your arsenal.  

    • Tips and techniques for effectively shoveling snow

      • When shoveling snow, it is a race against icing. Have your snow removed as soon as possible. Listen to your body. Don’t throw out your back because you are determined to finish the job. If you have children in your life, involve them, make it a family activity. Have hot chocolate and shovels. 

    • Other insights and advice on how to effectively shovel snow

      • Snow is tricky, there are different types of snow falls. Often, we envision soft and fluffy, that is the best case scenario! Depending on the pretreatment, weather conditions, foot traffic, and amount of time snow has been on the ground, snow can be wet and heavy, slushy, frozen solid or perfectly soft. Each situation calls for a different response. The best way to handle snow is with a plan. Purchase what you need now! If you try to get the calcium chloride mentioned above when snow is in the forecast, good luck. It might be sold out! Same thing with shovels. Have a spare metal shovel in your trunk (if you drive). Have everything you need. Many people hire us because they don’t want to think about this. Somethings may be better left to professionals. Either way, be prepared. Many people contact us when snow is in the forecast. By that point it’s hard to provide services and the prices skyrocket to serve customers last minute. Plan! Plan! Plan!

    • Hiring a Snow Company!

      • Ask about the products and equipment the cleaning company uses. Do they use salt or calcium chloride? You do not regularly want salt on your property, it's cheaper, but it will slowly destroy most surfaces.  

      • Do they use flakes or pellets? You want pellets for better spread and ice control. Pellets cut through ice and sink to the bottom loosen the bond between ice and the surface.

    • Brownstone Steps 

      • Cleaning companies use a blend of iron, aluminum and plastic tools. Identify how they apply them to reduce the chances of wear and tear to your steps. 

      • The snow removal process can be a bit aggressive depending on the variable types of snowfall. Plastic should be a company's primary tool on staircases and walkways, however plastic is not effective in ice situations. 

      • Breaking ice can scratch and chip staircases. This doesn't happen regularly with professionals, but depending on the type of stairs you have and its condition, wear and tear damage can occur.

    • Understanding Snow Melting Material

      • ​Anti-icing vs. Deicing: Applying Industrial Snow Melter

        • Historically, contractors and homeowners have removed snow and ice by overusing chemicals to complement the use of shovels, plows, and related equipment. In recent years, granular materials have become a popular and effective method for maintaining safe conditions during and after a storm. Understanding the difference between anti-icing and deicing can give managers insights into the different approaches that can help them deal with ice efficiently.

        • Anti-icing refers to the proactive application of industrial snow melter to walking surfaces prior a storm. This tactic helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, and workers can clear them away more easily, with plastic steel tip shovels. Used effectively, anti-icing can create some of the safest conditions in the winter and is a cost-effective alternative to deicing.

        • Deicing is the reactive application of industrial snow melter to eliminate existing snow and ice on driving or walking surfaces. Deicing after snow removal operations can melt any remaining snow and ice. The process typically require steel and iron tools

      • Common industrial snow melter products include:

        • Calcium Chloride (CaCl) is effective as an industrial snow melter down to about minus-20 degrees. It is an exothermic salt, meaning it releases heat as it melts the ice. It melts ice faster than other common deicers, but it tends to attract moisture from the air even after melting the ice, causing pavements to remain moist. If the moisture refreezes, it creates icy conditions, and the ice expansion can cause surface damage. Wet-dry and freeze-thaw cycles lead to spalling, which means flaking or chipping. CaCl also can be more corrosive to metals, and it can cost more than other materials. This is the product Foot Soldiers use on our cement, asphalt and brownstone properties.

        • Magnesium chloride has many similarities to CaCl, including cost. It is exothermic and absorbs moisture from the air. This characteristic makes it a fast-acting industrial snow melter when applied as a solid and mixed with sand or salt. Crews also can spread it directly on pavement as a liquid before a storm arrives. In temperatures ranging from 15- to minus-20 degrees, it is more effective than NaCl but less effective than CaCl.

        • Many people believe potassium chloride and urea are safe products to use around vegetation, but this is a common misconception. Fertilizer is good for plants, but at high concentrations, it can be deadly. Urea does not contain chlorides, so it is less corrosive and safer for use on concrete containing rebar and around steel structures. Urea is effective to 15 degrees and potassium chloride to 12 degrees. Both materials work more slowly than calcium chloride.

        • Sand-salt mix. Another common practice is to mix sand and salt for deicing. This method is effective in maintaining some traction, due to the sand. But it reduces the amount of salt workers can apply to an area. As a result, less deicing occurs, while the environmental concerns and clean-up costs associated with sand rise.​

        • Salt. Sodium chloride (NaCl), or rock salt, is a well-known industrial snow melter. This product generally is effective, though not in all conditions. In very cold conditions — typically below 23 degrees — salt begins to lose its effectiveness and either is not used or is overused in trying to make up for reduced performance.

        • Sand. Although sand can provide some traction, it technically is not a deicing material, since it does not melt snow or ice. A common misconception is sand is the best alternative for snow and ice control, due to its low cost and common use. Managers also need to consider the potential environmental impact of sand.

  • How important is the location of the company?

    • For general cleaning, this shouldn't matter one bit, as long as they can get the job done before Sanitation arrives. However, for snow removal location is important​, the employees must be able to travel in poor weather to work. The further out an employee lives, the more likely snow cleanup services will not be rendered timely. Foot Soldier staff are local and typically provide services within NYC Sanitation guidelines.

  • Meet your management team!

    • You should meet or at least have a phone call with the person who will manage your service quality; get a direct phone number or email address. Find out what procedures are in place for managing unforeseen service quality issues.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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© & Updated May, 2019 by Foot Soldiers, LLC.