The Secrets of Efficient Property Inspections (Even for Construction Non-Experts)

The inspection plan is today’s property maintenance darling.

It helps you sustain a healthy and attractive property. Maintenance projects become more predictable. Plus, your tenant satisfaction, retention, and attraction all improve.

It’s easy to think the most critical success factor in inspections is construction expertise.

But even folks who don’t primarily think of themselves as “technical” can build an active inspection program — if they have the strategy and know how to make it work.

Planning inspections is 90% of the battle

Property inspections can be expensive and time-consuming. But they don’t have to be.

Planning is what makes the difference.

The most critical maintenance skill you can develop as a property manager is … strategy.

Luckily, for you (and me) those skills are 100% learnable. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is speaking from their insecurity and lack of experience.

First the what, then the who

So how do we create this inspection plan?

For many of us, the first question to ask at this stage is, “What building components are we going to inspect?”

Figuring out what to inspect is easy if you’ve already created a building component inventory.

Next, it’s time to figure out what information you want to get from the inspections. At a minimum, you’ll want to know the current condition of each component.

Do you want inspectors to record a condition rating for each component? Do you want written descriptions about the condition? What about pictures?

Take your time during this phase. You’re looking for as many opportunities to take the guesswork out as you can find. This is the phase of your maintenance program that leads you to inspections that are:

  • Highly effective, because they ensure you get the right data
  • Cost efficient
  • Simpler and quicker to do

The right way to approach “Who”

Once you know what components to inspect and what information to record, you’re ready to identify who will examine each part.

At this point, you don’t have to assign individuals. But you do need to decide what type of person will, and there are two general options: •

  • In-house maintenance staff
  • Outside specialists, like a contractor or consultant

For example, to assess a building’s structural integrity, you’d need a structural engineer.

Other situations aren’t as obvious. For those, the question to answer is, Does my maintenance staff have the expertise to identify the root causes of building deficiencies?

Can they identify problems and why those problems are happening?

The answer may not come to you right away but keep asking. Often, this question will lead you to tighten up your “Who” or your “What” (or both), until you have a super effective inspection program.