• Gary Crosbie

Mothballing your property

With the current slump  of trade, operators are being forced to close sections of their properties or indeed whole buildings. This is a situation faced during the Foot and Mouth outbreak and following 9/11 in 2001 and I thought I’d share some experiences and tips we picked up during that time. I know it probably seems a life-time away at the moment. One of the biggest barriers to carry out refurbishment is the loss of revenue whilst rooms and areas are out of action, but back then several of our clients took advantage of quiet and empty properties and carried out their refurbishment and maintenance works stealing a lead on the competition when business returned. Which it will.

Plan. How long will the building be unoccupied for? Do you have any special features which require special protection? The most important threats to a vacant building are ·      Weather ·      Escape of water ·      Pests and Vermin ·      Vandalism

A well thought through and implemented plan will help eliminate disaster especially whilst there is nobody around to regularly monitor and will also make the recommissioning easier.

Extreme Weather Conditions . Our weather patterns currently are unpredictable and extreme. If building elements are not properly secured, the high winds may damage many building elements and leave others open to further damage. Likewise, heavy rains may cause flooding on the lower levels of the building and water penetration in other unsecured areas.  

Escape of Water and Moisture will cause the decay of materials, leading to wood rot, growth of mold and fungi, and provide a hospitable environment for insects. Water can gain direct access to the building through windows, doors, roof openings, damaged mortar joints, blocked gutters and condensation caused by temperature and humidity shifts within the building.

Pests and Vermin .When birds, bugs, and rodents make your vacant building their home, it increases the likelihood of structural damage and compromises the integrity of decorative elements. New openings in the building may be made by these vermin. Birds’ nests can be a fire hazard and their droppings, a disease threat. Rodents may chew on the building’s wiring, and insects may bore into wood structural supports. Old food left in rooms and dare I say staff accommodation.

Criminal Damage. Caused when local opportunists force entry, any opening then allows the direct entry of vermin, wind, and water. Vandals may also damage the interior or start fires in the building. 

CHECKLIST   A simple checklist can help to prevent many of these conditions from exacting their toll on your investment:  ·      Roof - Repair all leaks. Make sure all flashing is secure, gutters run freely. ·      Ventilation - A securely ventilated building prevents the damage that can be caused by condensation. Ventilate the building so that air enters at ground level and leaves at the attic level.  ·      Windows and Doors - Entry points, such as windows and doors, should be secured to prevent damage and entry from vandals. Remove any debris, such as loose bricks, that could be thrown at the building to provide entry.  ·      Plumbing and Heating - Plumbing in an unheated building should be protected by shutting off the water supply and draining the pipes, contact your insurer regarding their requirements for and sprinkler systems. Seal WC lids to prevent accidental use. ·      Finishes and Furniture - If safe storage can be provided elsewhere, it may be prudent to remove and store valuable items. Photograph the items in their original location before removal.  Notifications – Notify your Insurers , Alarm monitoring companies and appropriate local authorities of the vacant building, consider providing keys to the police and fire departments. 

If we can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best Wishes and Good Luck!

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