Winter’s almost here, complete with rain, freezing temperatures, ice, and snow. So is your commercial property winter proof?
Every season poses challenges for a building, such as heavy rain in spring and sweltering heat in summer. In winter, snow, ice, and cold will wreak havoc on a building and tenants if you’re unprepared. From pipes bursting to tenants slipping on ice to the roof leaking, winter brings many potential pitfalls.
Get your building ready for winter ahead of time to minimize the risk of winter challenges. Here are four steps to help ensure your building is prepared.
1. Create a Building Communications Plan
A good first step to winter proof your building is to create a building communications plan.
If there’s a heavy snow or ice storm, your building risks having power knocked out or suffering other damage. And if you don’t have a communication plan in place, your tenants will have no idea what to do when this happens. It can be nearly impossible to communicate with tenants during a winter weather emergency without a plan.
However, building and distributing a communication plan can be time-consuming. You need to make sure tenant info and preferences are up to date. Plan which channels to distribute emergency info to. Create messages to send out—and more. All of which require time commitment.
It doesn’t have to be time-consuming though. With building communications software, tenants can keep their info up to date, so you can always reach them. And building comms software can send messages through tenants’ preferred channels, such as text, Slack, and email.
Building comms software can also save message drafts. This lets you prepare ahead of time to send important info quickly. For example, instead of having to recreate messages you send out regularly, like storm advisories, you can simply select a saved message draft. This helps you quickly get tenants the info they need in a weather emergency, helping tenant satisfaction and retention.
2. Line Up Winter Vendors
Another step to winter proof your building is to line up vendors to take care of common winter service and maintenance projects.
When winter hits, you may need to remove snow, fix pipes that burst, and more. But most teams can’t complete all winter projects by themselves. You need service vendors to help. If you don’t already have these vendors lined up, your building could go days or even weeks without necessary service, which doesn’t exactly increase tenant satisfaction.
You can’t just click your fingers and have the right winter vendors magically appear though. You have to go through the competitive bid process, which can take weeks or months. Which means you’re stuck writing requests, communicating with vendors, and comparing proposals, instead of tending to tenant needs.
One solution is to use bid management software (such as that offered by Building Engines) to line up winter vendors. This software allows you to use a template to create a request in minutes. Look for software that lets you source vendors from a trusted vendor database, so you don’t have to spend weeks trying to find quality vendors. Bid management software can also automate vendor communication—like follow-ups—to save time.
Good bid management software can also automatically generate a side-by-side comparison table. This makes it easy to compare and choose vendors based on price, scope, history, or any other factor you choose. Then you have winter vendors when you need them, not months after you start looking.
3. Conduct Regular Inspections
To properly winter proof your building, you also need to conduct regular inspections. Winter weather puts a strain on buildings and equipment. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can cause roof leaks, boiler problems, and more. So if you don’t conduct regular inspections, you miss problems while they’re still small.
Instead, you discover these problems once they’re big—and you learn you need to replace your boiler. This raises operating expenses. And a grating problem like a non-functional boiler or a hole in the roof can really dent tenant satisfaction.
Preventing these problems requires regular inspections. But manually creating a schedule for all your equipment, recording inspection data, and spotting problems is a non-trivial exercise.
An easier way to conduct regular winter inspections is with building inspection software, such as Building Engines’ module. This software helps you create a personalized inspection schedule in minutes. And if it has mobile capabilities, your team can record data in the app wherever they are, even in areas without internet.
Good building inspection software will also include a dashboard overview to help you easily spot underperforming equipment. This allows you to maintain equipment and fix problems before replacements are required, saving money. And keeping a building in top shape keeps tenants happier.
4. Get Winter Proof Insurance
The final step to get your property ready for winter is to make sure you’re insured properly.
Winter ice and snow predictably cause accidents such as tenants slipping and falling. And without the right insurance, you could face a claim that costs your building millions.
But keeping up with certificates of insurance (COIs) and compliance requirements is often confusing and time-consuming. With ever-changing requirements and multiple COIs to manage, it’s easy to think you’re properly insured when you’re not, increasing the risk of costly claims.
However, insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. With good insurance software, you can easily see which COIs are up to date, missing, or will expire soon. Good software will also offer expert guidance to help you ensure you’re always covered. This way you know your building is protected for winter accidents without spending hours each week on compliance.
Easily Winter Proof Your Building
To get your building ready for winter, create a building communications plan to get important info to tenants in an emergency. Line up winter vendors. And conduct regular inspections to get in front of equipment problems. Lastly, make sure your insurance protects you from winter accident claims.
Building operations software can make this prep easy with building communications, bid management, inspections, and insurance software. Learn more about how building operations software can help your building succeed in all seasons. Check out Building Engines’ 2021 Buyer’s Guide to CRE Building Operations Technology.