Both members and the co-op’s managers have a role to play.
Everyone has a role in the on-going upkeep of the co-op. It's not just a matter for management. Members should report problems as they arise, so those problems can be dealt with early on (when they are usually easier and less expensive to fix). Members should also understand how to use the ventilation and other systems that are under their control.
Here are some examples of why adopting a consistent approach on maintenance — inside and out — is so important.
The building envelope really defines a building. It’s what keeps the weather out, and it’s always experiencing wear whether from rain, wind, sun, plant growth or animal activities. It’s important to regularly observe the condition of the envelope and not defer maintenance and repair schedules. Water penetration in wood structures can quickly lead to decay, and metals can rust. If you see something that’s not right, alert the co-op.
In this image, paint coatings and sealants on exterior trim are severely degraded. This allows water to penetrate, potentially causing extensive damage to wall structures. These conditions are a result of deferred renewal of paint coatings and sealants. To keep the envelope functioning properly, paint and sealants must be renewed at regularly scheduled intervals. Eight years between paintings is a good guide.
Good landscaping can enormously improve the appearance of a co-op, but plants must not be allowed to grow uncontrolled. Here we see overgrown vegetation. Plants are encroaching on the building walls and speeding up the decay of wood components. Regular pruning would allow air to better reach the wall surfaces, and permit them to dry out more quickly.
We can see another example of the consequences of allowing plants and soil too close to building walls. Here the wood trim is severely decayed. Damp soil in contact with the wall surfaces and vegetation limiting air flow have worked together to reduce the useful life of the wood trim.
This picture shows part of a decayed deck: a damaged vinyl membrane has not been replaced. Without that membrane, which provides the waterproofing, damp conditions can quickly cause rot and threaten the integrity (not just the appearance) of the deck. Repairs at this point would probably require replacement of some structural framing sections. This additional work (and associated costs) might have been avoided with an active maintenance program.
Clogged gutters are common, especially when large trees overhang co-op roofs. Here we can see gutters clogged with fallen leaves. Sometimes this condition progresses so far that new plants begin sprouting in the gutters. In such situations, water may back up and may cause damage to roof sheathing, fascia and soffit areas. Regular gutter cleaning can help minimize this problem.
Poor interior ventilation can be attributed to problems with construction, or to member behaviours. In this picture, we can see that the bathroom ceiling and wall surfaces are damaged from poor interior ventilation. The bathroom fan is actually new, but it is not being used for long enough periods to effectively expel moisture after members take showers. Co-ops should review with members how the bathroom fans work and why members should use them. If they’re making too much noise, the answer may to replace them rather than turn them off!
Members can also affect the efficiency of the building systems.
Here a bathroom ceiling fan grille is clogged with dust. By blocking air flow, the fan’s efficiency is much reduced and it can’t properly vent moisture from bathroom areas.
Members may see the consequence of reduced fan efficiency when mould and mildew start to grow. In this picture, you can see mould on bathtub wall tiles and grouted joints, a result of poor interior ventilation practices. (Members might also be encouraged to use bathroom squeegees to reduce the amount of water left on bathroom walls.)