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Tips and tools for grounds walk-throughs

By Wynne Whyman




Walk-Throughs and Inspections: Taking a Fresh Perspective

Regular property work involves maintenance requests, weekly work schedules, and long-term replacement schedules. However, you’ll need to step back every once in a while and look at the broader picture by taking a few walk-throughs of both your site and your facilities. These walk-throughs will give you opportunities to perform visual inspections, examine work done previously, confirm the need for scheduled work, check safety conditions, uncover additional work to be done, and discover unknown participant wear. They may also highlight an already observed deterioration made worse by hail, wind, heat, or cold.

How often should you check things? Your state’s regulations and accreditation standards and guidelines provide a starting point. Use your risk management plan (see chapter 11) and your general knowledge of the site and facilities, the participant volume, and the severity of the weather in your region to determine your walk-through schedule. For example, you may conduct a walk-through twice a year-once after the rainy season and once after the hot summer-to note the impact of severe weather conditions. It would also be a good idea to take a look during a rainstorm to see how effectively water moves throughout the property. You may have an outside expert come out just once a year. You’ll need to determine the timing and scheduling of the various walk-throughs listed in this book based on your unique property.

For a large property, the property director may be a general licensed contractor and would be qualified to perform the walk-through inspection. For a smaller property, the majority of the walk-through inspections might need to be completed by an outside expert. This is because the staff person responsible for maintenance may be hired only to perform light maintenance and custodial work and may not have the skill set needed for inspections.

 



The following are important considerations for all walk-throughs:

• Select carefully the person or people for each of the walk-throughs in this book; make decisions based on their assessment skills and expertise. Before engaging an outside inspector, be sure to check her background, certifications, insurance coverage, skills, and knowledge of your type of operation.

• Take note of areas where a professional may be needed or required for a part of the walk-through. A licensed inspector would be used when regulations require one, when the walk-through person is not qualified for a particular inspection, or when called for by the risk management plan. Often this professional will provide his own form; the items listed in the checklist are simply a reminder that the task needs to be completed. Examples of experts you may call include a forester and an electrical inspector.

• Although an on-site person may have the skills to conduct the walk-through, it can be helpful to ask an external person to conduct a walk-through to get a fresh perspective. In addition, an external person can be seen as having more authority, which helps to support a case for a project within the organization.

• Determine whether it is appropriate for the administrator to accompany the inspector during a walk-through. Her firsthand observations can be helpful for future discussions and planning sessions. You may decide, however, that it is more useful to have the administrator review the walk-through and inspection summary reports with the site personnel at a later date.

 

• Have the property director accompany the external inspector on the site tour to see the needs through his eyes and gather as much information as possible. Ask questions, but do not direct or try to influence him. You want to ensure his objectivity. Listen and learn from a fresh perspective, but also discuss any areas of concern. When he completes his written inspection report, you will know which areas need immediate corrective action and which areas you can incorporate into your work plan.

• Prepare a written report of your walk-though. This is important from a risk management perspective and because you need to document accurately the work needing to be done.

Remember, your staff and participants can be your unofficial inspectors on a daily basis. By training them to be observant and making it easy to submit written maintenance requests, you are never the only set of eyes looking at the conditions.

 

Scheduling Your Grounds Walk-Through

The previous section described the importance of walk-throughs, their value, and who should conduct them. For your property, decide the best person(s) to perform the grounds walk-through. To get a bird’s-eye view of the elements in this grounds section, use tool 5.1. It includes a common set of items to examine, which is easy to modify to meet your needs.

 

This is an excerpt from Outdoor Site and Facility Management: Tools for Creating Memorable Places.



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