Need A Lift?: The Inside Scoop On Cherry Pickers And Scissor Lifts For Multistory Property Maintenance

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Rooftops, treetops and the tip top of a multistory building's facade all need the attention of a contractor from time to time. As a new manager of an apartment building complex, you're likely to become familiar with the ins and outs – or more precisely, the ups and downs – of aerial lift use. Routine inspections, general maintenance and emergency repairs are all good reasons why lift equipment must be brought onto the property. Any time work needs to be conducted on an area that can't safely be reached from a ladder, bringing in a lift is the smart alternative.

No, you won't be the one responsible for acquiring the equipment to get the job done. It's the contractor you hire who is responsible for ensuring the right type of aerial lift is rented and set up before proceeding with the project. And no, you shouldn't worry that they're renting instead of owning their own equipment. Renting is actually a smart business move on the contractor's part that helps keep costs in check. Plus, contractors have access to multiple types of equipment and aerial work platforms when they rent, so if a cherry picker gives them more accessibility to a roof overhang, for example, they won't be stuck trying to work with a scissor lift.

In your role as the property manager, there are several things you need to do when there's a lift of any sort involved in an on-site project.

Coordination With the Contractor

  • Verify that your contractor is bonded and properly insured before the project starts. You may also ask about training and safety precautions for workers who will be performing their tasks using the lift. If you have any doubts or questions about coverage, talk with the insurance company handling the policy for your rental complex.
  • Plan the best access route from the road to the work site. Some types of small scissor lift equipment, for example, are about the size and weight of a golf cart. They're mounted on wheels so they can be easily rolled from a delivery trailer at the curbside to the work location. Larger aerial work platforms and cherry-picker type lifts may need to have access to the work space via service roads, the alley or over a section of lawn. If necessary, make arrangements for gates to be unlocked and any obstacles to be moved at the time of delivery and again when the project is completed and the equipment is removed.
  • Ensure that proper precautions are in place to keep renters and visitors safe while the work is in progress. Depending on the location and duration of the work, this may be as simple as surrounding the work site with brightly colored "Caution" tape. For longer projects and those that will go on for several days, temporary construction fencing and "Keep Out" signs are advisable.

Coordination With Your Apartment Complex Renters

Kids and curious tenants can get excited watching an aerial lift in action. Putting up safety tape or barriers is one way to keep them safe from the possibility of falling items and moving mechanical parts. Another way is to keep them informed of what's happening – and when. Those who enjoy construction activity can do so from a distance, and those who would rather avoid it altogether have the opportunity to do so, as well.

Send out a notification of upcoming work as soon as possible and follow up with a reminder a week before the scheduled start date. Some lease agreements specify that tenants must be informed of construction work within a certain time period, but even if that's not spelled out it's still a thoughtful gesture. It also gives you an opportunity to set expectations when you include details such as

  • closure of walkways or parking areas to accommodate for the lift equipment,
  • the type of equipment they can expect to see and why it's important to keep away from it,
  • the start date and time, and the projected end date of the project.

As the property manager, you won't be expected to be an expert in aerial work platforms, but after the first project you will have gained good working knowledge to coordinate with contractors and equipment rentals for any upcoming projects that require similar construction equipment.