Here in the North State, we have been experiencing some very cold, late night and morning temperatures, not to mention the snow that covered our region for several days. As property manager of several commercial buildings, I witnessed many Automatic Timed Watering Systems (ATWS) that were still running and causing severe ice situations on public walkways. This could be a legal disaster if not addressed.
I spoke with another property manager who had experienced the same thing and unfortunately, there were slip and falls being reported from properties that he managed. His first action was to contact the landscaper to find out why the systems had not been shut down for the winter, and simply put, it’s been so dry.
Landscaping still needs some water during these dry winter months and landscapers usually only visit properties once a week during daylight hours although temperatures change drastically from one day to the next. They generally only change the settings on the ATWS when the landscaping is showing signs of being under-watered. Signs of being over-watered are not as apparent. Also, there is the complexity of the many different types of controls on these systems and landscapers generally do not have the manuals. These control boxes are most often locked or even placed inside buildings behind locked doors and keys are not carried or made easily available to the landscaper.
In large complexes this may not be the case when they employ a full time landscaper, but, in the smaller properties where the landscaper contracts with many different locations, who is monitoring these systems on really cold days when sidewalks could be coated with a sheeting of ice from the sprinklers?
As Property Manager, I feel that it is my responsibility to not only communicate with the landscapers to make certain the watering is sufficient for the weather but to also question that the systems are running at an appropriate period for the temperature at that time of day.
You may think things are under control when actually they are not. Drive by inspections of properties during the late night and early morning hours are very important to really know what is happening. Also inspecting the control boxes and the settings should be a part of a manager’s routine. This is not easy when there are so many different types, but a good property manager should have manuals available with simplified printed instructions inside the control box.
If you don’t have a professional property manager, are you managing?
About Robin Birmingham
Robin joined Haedrich & Co.,Inc. as Property Manager with over 20 years of property management experience. She has worked for companies such as K2 Properties, Inc., Shaw and Associates, Inc., and Shasta Land Services, Inc. Robin is a licensed real estate salesperson. This, along with her extensive experience in property management, has made her a valuable asset for the property management portion of the current real estate sales, leasing, and consulting divisions of the firm.