Photo Credit: Abbie Rowe
The President is in the middle of a 17-day vacation at his Bedminster gold club, and hopefully the most important thing that will happen in his absence is the long-overdue renovation of the White House. The “West Wing Phase Two Renovations” were approved under the Obama administration and follow an initial renovation completed in 2012.
Considering that the White House operates closer to a commercial property than a residential one, this may be one of the rare times to take a page out the the administration’s book and conduct your own repairs and renovations. The latest outlook from The Weather Channel suggests that the Fall will be unseasonably warm in much of the U.S., so if you haven’t started yet, you still have time.
Here’s what we recommend:
Check the HVAC System
The White House is investing $1.965 million in a complete HVAC upgrade, a spokesperson told Town and Country Magazine. The current system is 27 years old and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week – well above its ideal parameters. The spokesperson said that this usage schedule makes it functionally equivalent to an 81-year-old system.
Timely maintenance of your building’s HVAC system will help to keep utility costs down by making sure your system isn’t working harder than it has to. It may also avert expensive repair bills down the road. Have a technician tune up your system and have drain pans, condenser coils, and fan motors cleaned. You should also change your HVAC system’s air filter monthly to keep your air clean.
Maintain the Plumbing
In Washington, the General Service Administration will also be fixing leaks in the lower press area of the West Wing. This likely won’t do much to plug the leaks to the press area of the West Wing, but there you go.
Water use generally ticks up over the summer, so it pays to do a check of your own for leaks in the fall. While you’re at it, snake drains throughout your building and have your pipes’ water jetted to remove any buildup.
Appraise the Grounds
The White House’s historic grounds are in generally good condition, but the stairs descending onto the South Lawn have not been restored in 64 years and are beginning to crack. They will be refurbished to pristine condition.
Take at least a few minutes to tour the grounds of your property and look for anything that might impact the building structurally or its curb appeal. Pay special attention to cracks on the outside of the foundation, as they may be a sign of more significant damage. You should also inspect sprinkler heads to ensure a lush green lawn through the Fall, spot check for weeds, and take note of anything else that might reflect poorly on your building.
Keep up the Kitchen
The famous White House Navy Mess will also get a tune up in the form of a kitchen renovation. Senior White House staff are the only ones permitted to make reservations at the mess, which is run by the U.S. Navy in a nod to
The famous White House Navy Mess will also get a tune up in the form of a kitchen renovation. Senior White House staff are the only ones permitted to make reservations at the mess, which is run by the U.S. Navy in a nod to history of the Navy providing food service to the Commander in Chief since 1880, but the whole country might benefit. A take-out window is open next door to the Situation Room. Who knows how many potential nuclear crises have been averted by a timely half sandwich and soup combo.
Office kitchens provide the tinder for a large helping of the complaints property managers receive. To keep your sanity going into the Fall. Pay special attention to your tenants’ sinks and refrigerators. For sinks, this means the caulking around the sink, looking for leaks underneath, ensuring proper drainage, and possibly upgrading the sink hardware. For refrigerators, check refrigerant levels, pressure controls, thermostats, and inspect suction, liquid, and discharge lines. You should also regularly clean the coils, drain pan, and motor. It may also pay to upgrade the kitchen if it is beginning to look dated – kitchens are some of the first rooms to fall out of style.
Perform General Maintenance
Apart from the major renovations, the West Wing will also receive an exterior electricity upgrade, power washing, and an interior paint job. Curtains and carpets will be switched out – most likely all gold if the President has anything to say about it – and an exterior door will be refinished.
This is a good time for you to assess whether your building is beginning to look tired or dated and make changes as necessary. Carpets and drapes begin to look faded after just a few years, and a failure to change them gives a bad impression to current and potential tenants. Interior walls also need fresh paint every few years, and once a decade or so, depending on the material, the exterior may need a power washing or a new paint job as well.
You might also want to consider whether your building has the features and design elements needed to attract modern companies. Tastes and work habits change over time, and elements that worked for companies just ten years ago may cause them to look elsewhere today. The good news is that design changes may be an affordable way to increase operating income.
Regardless of how you feel about who’s in Washington, the White House is an iconic piece of American history that deserves to be properly maintained. Your building might not carry the same historic weight, but doesn’t it deserve a little bit of special treatment?