Why It’s Crucial to Transition Buildings for Different Seasons

Winter is coming—is your building ready? MHN interviews Lynn Whiting, vice president of client services, Argo Real Estate, on why it’s so important to transition a building for the different seasons.

New York—Winter is coming—is your building ready? MHN interviews Lynn Whiting, vice president of client services, Argo Real Estate, on why it’s so important to transition a building for the different seasons. She also offers some tips to make the process easier.

MHN: Why is it necessary to transition buildings over for the different seasons?

Whiting: Different seasons have different needs. In the winter season we have to prepare for the heating season and cold weather in the buildings. Also, when the weather gets warmer we have to prepare for the cooling season and get the building systems ready. We have to prepare if there’s landscaping and grounds—we have to get that all in shape for the spring and summer. And there’s always transitional things, like fall cleanup and so forth. Because we have the change of seasons and things change with the grounds, you always have to get ready for each season and prepare the plan.

MHN: How far in advance should property managers prepare?

Whiting: They should start well in advance. It could be July or the beginning of August and the heating season seems like a long time away, but it’s really not. The heating season in New York City, for example, starts October 1st, which sounds early. Before that, during the summer months, you should be overhauling the boilers with a tune up, you should be breeching on the boilers and cleaning the roof tanks. You have to make sure you have adequate snow supplies to get you through the winter—ordering the salt, ordering shovels, salt spreaders. Also seeing that all the equipment that you have, such as snow blowing equipment, is working. You can’t wait until you have a snowstorm and then turn it on and it doesn’t work. You have to make sure it’s working, and sometimes they need to be serviced.

Also, there are things that are sensitive to weather. For example, if the building has a cooling tower, that has to be shut down, it has to be drained, it has to have anti-freeze put in. It has to be protected through the winter. Also things like outdoor sprinkler systems, irrigation systems, all those things need to be winterized. So there’s real prep that goes on.

MHN: Do you recommend having a checklist to use every year?

Whiting: Absolutely. It’s different for every building, because not every building has the same systems. For example, every building doesn’t have central air conditioning. Some buildings have self-contained units that are not part of the building system. So absolutely, but it depends on the building and it should be customized for each building to make sure that all the equipment is covered for that particular building.

MHN: Do you think there are cost savings if these things are done in advance?

Whiting: Well, one cost savings in advance is ordering snow supplies. If you order the salt in September or August when it’s well stocked, you’ll get a good price on in. There have been winters where it’s really bad, like two winters ago, where there were lots of snowstorms, and some buildings didn’t have enough. They didn’t anticipate. Then if you’re looking to get supplies in February in the middle of winter, that salt is going to cost more.

MHN: Do you have any other tips?

Whiting: Not for the winter. But for the spring you have to arrange for a spring cleanup. You have to paint and take stock and get ready so the building looks great for the spring. We get our cooling systems ready—they have to be prepared. Some buildings have a system where you can only have heat or air, so you have to plan the shut down and schedule all that. Sometimes units have to be maintained. So you’re kind of doing it in reverse—if you have outdoor space there’s more of an emphasis toward landscaping. Some buildings have seasonal plantings, some have recreational areas that will need to be prepped for the spring season. It’s basically in reverse, except there’s more of an emphasis on outdoor maintenance and painting.