Burt M. Polson - Commercial Real Estate Broker

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The maintenance money pit - part 2


You may not have heard of a “maintenance pit,” but I am sure you have seen a property in one. Deferring maintenance on a property for one reason or another is a bad habit for the property owner.

Issues left unresolved grow and compound causing other problems costing more money to fix.

In part one we discussed the roof and roof elements as well as exterior walls and trim. We will wrap up with the grounds, interior, attic & crawlspace and mechanical, plumbing & electrical systems. My list is not an all-inclusive list of potential items to look for but will give you a good start.


The flow of water away from your structure is essential. Be sure roof drains, downspouts, storm drains, and gutters are free of debris and are properly draining.

Check the foundation and retaining walls for cracks, signs of water infiltration or seepage and ensure the integrity is sound.

The sealing of the parking lot asphalt every three years will significantly prolong its life.

Ensure the concrete has no cracks or any utility cover plates missing which pose a safety hazard. Also, pressure wash walkways of gum, grime or those prone to moss or is slippery when wet.


Depending on the type of construction will dictate what to look for in your inspections. For load-bearing masonry walls or cast-in-place concrete walls look for any movement, cracks, water infiltration and missing mortar or seam sealant.

Wood construction may have sagging or sloping causing cracks in the walls. Pay attention to dry rot and pest infestation.

Steel beams with a concrete deck, reinforced concrete, and masonry floors are prone to deflection, spalling, corrosion, poor mechanical connections and settling which may show signs in interior areas.

It is important to keep floor coverings, wall and ceiling finishes intact and free of marks or discoloration to spot trouble easily.

Inspect fireplaces and chimneys for cracks in the masonry and hearth as well as a proper seal on the damper. Regular cleaning of the flue pipe is an important safety measure.

Attic & crawlspace

Inspect attic space for sealing between it and the interior, make sure all ductwork is intact, no varmint infestation exists and check for any signs of water seepage or mold and mildew from past seepage. Ensure screens on all vents are intact and any ventilation fans are operational.

The crawlspace or basement may have a sump pump so check for operation and periodically service.

Check for water infiltration at the foundation as well as cracks or efflorescence and pests or termite tunnels.

Mechanical, plumbing & electrical systems

Buildings equipped with basic mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems may minimally need the testing of GFCI circuits, replacing HVAC filters, cleaning the HVAC condenser, and changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

More sophisticated buildings may have multiple package HVAC units, chillers and heat pumps all of which should have regular quarterly maintenance performed.

You may have a fire suppression system, backflow device or elevator all which will require inspections by a certified inspector.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a local real estate broker specializing in commercial, luxury estates and wineries. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com. Sign up for his email newsletter at BurtPolson.com.

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