Find the hidden liabilities on your property
After the winter thaw, it's a good time to perform your church's spring seasonal walkabout. Most properties deteriorate at a rate of 1–2% per year, 4% in the absence of regular preventive maintenance. And the strain of winter weather can leave your property needing a little extra care.
Your spring walkabout has two primary objectives: identify and repair damage that may have occurred during the winter months and perform routine facility maintenance.
Identify and repair damage
Winter storms can lead to damage from extremely cold temperatures as well as snow and ice. Add the damage created by normal wear and tear, and you may need more repairs than you realize. In your inspection, pay close attention to these areas:
- Sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and steps. Poorly maintained walkways can lead to slips and falls, so make sure they are level and free of cracks or holes.
- Roofs and support structures for your buildings. Ice and snow can put stress on your buildings. Check all roofs, flashing, rain gutters and the seals around doors and windows for damage.
- Trees. Dead or loose branches and limbs can break off in moderate to heavy winds. Plan to remove these limbs as soon as possible. Every two to three years, you should have your trees professionally trimmed.
- Pipes. Water leakage can lead to problems with mold and mildew. Check all pipes, water faucets and irrigation systems for leaks. Be aware: If you have known there is a plumbing problem for some time and did not repair it, resulting water damage may not be covered by your property insurance policy.
- Playground and/or ball field. Make sure equipment and playing surfaces are safe and in good working order. Playgrounds should have four inches of impact material, such as mulch or pea gravel.
Perform routine facility maintenance
Annual inspections and regular maintenance can help you keep your facilities in good repair with a minimum of budget dollars. If you haven't already developed a Preventive Maintenance Schedule, now would be a good time to do that. During your spring walkabout, be sure to focus on:
- Fire alarm system. To ensure your facilities are up to code, schedule your fire alarm inspection, automatic fire sprinkler system inspection and water flow and tamper switch inspections. These must be performed annually by a certified contractor. You may also need a fire marshall inspection.
- Electrical system inspection. Avoid the risk of fire by making sure your electrical system is functioning properly. Have a licensed contractor inspect your church’s electrical system annually. This is especially important if your property is older than 20 years.
- Building codes and safety regulations. Building codes are adopted by a state or local government and usually apply only to new or proposed construction. However, there are also ordinances that regulate the maintenance of your facilities. Check all state and local codes to make sure your church is in compliance. Schedule any inspections that are due in 2010.
Regular upkeep and maintenance can reduce emergency repairs, which can take a toll on your budget. They can also help prevent injuries. To learn more about how you can protect your ministry with the GuideStone Property and Casualty Program®, call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).