There could be a host of reasons as to why your property has fallen vacant. A new job could force you to relocate and move to a different city. It could be as a result of marriage. A sluggish economy perhaps. The reasons are vast.
Regardless, leaving a building unattended with little or no care afforded to it is the last thing you want. Not only does the property lose value, but also will need more money to restore than what you could have used in the name of maintenance.
Vacant properties are associated with multiple risks which could see you incurring heavy (and totally unnecessary) losses and liability. Matters little the length of time it has been idle.
Following are some of the things you could be doing to identify any potential hazards in the premises, as well as tips to minimize risks while curbing losses.
- Shut off all utilities that are not related to security or protection of the property. E.g. the water-heater supply line.
- Inspect the roof on a frequent basis – if it’s accessible – so as to assess it for potential exposure like damage from recent storms, clogged roof drains, vegetation growth, evidence of unauthorized access etc.
- Weather-related risks will always be a concern for unoccupied properties. Consider equipping the building with low temperature alarms to prevent the damaging effect of freezing temperatures.
- Notify your insurance firm about the vacancy. This ensures they don’t discontinue property coverage.
- The importance of property maintenance can never be underestimated. And it gets even more important where vacant buildings are concerned. The most important thing here is to make it a point of servicing the various systems periodically – sprinkler, fire protection, detection systems etc. etc. This can be done, say on a quarterly basis, so as to keep the systems in working order.
- Clean the gutters and insulate the pipes to prevent leaks that might otherwise go unnoticed resulting in serious damage.
- Caulk cracks and seams on all doors and window frames. The same goes for vents, siding, and roofs. What this does is make the building more energy-efficient while also shielding it from damages caused by weather.
- Get rid of any materials or debris that may be hazardous, including pollutants, chemicals, and combustibles that could result to fire, leaks or contamination.
- It’s a good idea to conduct frequent walkthroughs around the property. This can be done at various intervals of the day, and it helps spot any ‘developments’ that may have occurred. Regardless of the property’s location, see to it that it is inspected at least once a week.
- Consider contracting a security firm or inquire from the local police department if they can include the property in their routine nightly patrols. This will help in thwarting any potential vandals.
Unoccupied buildings are usually open to potential damage from a number of sources, including the ones we have outlined here. Perhaps it’s time you considered signing up for vacant property insurance.