Roof maintenance is an important part of building maintenance. Years of weather damage and other environmental impacts as well as UV rays can leave you with problems. You may find yourself needing to replace the roof. This can be a complex and time-consuming project with one of the most challenging aspects of being keeping your tenants happy. Your tenants pay good money to live or work in a home or office, not a construction site. But when a roof tear-off becomes necessary, it is necessary to find the balance between your tenants and contractors. Here are some important considerations when it comes to roof work in an occupied building.
How to Work With Your Tenants During Roof Tear-Offs?
Communication Is Key
Above all, remember that good communication will help your project succeed. Your lease will most likely have specific requirements regarding communicating planned construction and renovation with your tenants. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your tenants’ rights during construction. When you have hired a contractor to perform the work, make sure you communicate these rights clearly to them too. Among the important details to relay to tenants, consider including the following:
- The date work will start and how long the project is expected to last.
- Whether the project is a complete roof tear-off or only a partial replacement.
- Why the work is being done, so they understand that you are investing in a better solution.
- How contractors will access the roof, especially if they will be using common stairways or elevators also used by tenants.
- If areas of the parking lot, the building, or any entrances will be off-limits during the work.
- Any expected noise, odors, or dust that might enter the building and what measures are being taken to limit this.
- If the HVAC systems will be turned off at any point during the work and for how long.
- Any equipment that the tenants may need to have disconnected, such as satellite dishes.
It is a good idea to post the information regarding the project in print in common areas like elevator lobbies and security offices. You may also consider whether email communication will be useful too. It is not uncommon for people to scan over posted documents, so try to get the information to your tenants using as many channels as you can. You should also send out updates and reminders as significant parts of the project are reached. Make sure there is also a contact for tenants to reach should they have any concerns during the construction.
Contractor Access and Storage
Work with the contractors to establish procedures for accessing the roof and material storage. You need to minimize the day-to-day disruptions to your tenants. While your lease identifies your landlord responsibilities for repair, keeping the process out of your tenants’ direct line of sight will help things run more smoothly. If available, direct contractors to a service elevator or to roof access through a mechanical room. Block off a few parking spots as a designated storage area for materials. Just remember that even if the lot has unassigned spaces, many tenants park in a regular spot. You want to clear enough space so that your tenants do not have to park next to materials that can possibly damage their vehicles either. Let tenants know ahead of time if additional parking will be available for them.
Handling Tenant Complaints
There needs to be a point of contact for tenants to reach out to if they have any questions or concerns. Even with open and regular communication, be prepared for complaints. Complaints will be mostly about noise and odor. Odor, in particular, can be tough to deal with, because while it is unpleasant, tenants can also become concerned for their health even when there is no risk. Managing odor and related indoor air quality during roof work is a key step in reducing tenant complaints. Here are a few steps to help manage odors during roof work:
- Select low-odor roofing materials.
- Have contractors keep roof kettles downwind of air intakes.
- If kettles can’t be moved downwind, close air intakes and windows.
- If weather permits, shut off the HVAC system.
- Schedule work with higher-odor material outside of normal business hours.
If you do receive complaints, be as responsive and proactive as possible. Not all noises and odors can be avoided, but tenants will be more tolerant if they know you’re working in good faith. A new roof will be beneficial for the building and for the tenants, so letting them know you are working with their best interests will go a long way in helping them deal with the construction.