Common property maintenance issues: Challenge number 1 - Water
What? Water? Yes, water. It can pose a big problem for people like us who are in charge of maintaining properties. Especially in the tropics where water comes in bucket loads.
There are mainly 3 big issues:
1. Preventing water from coming into the house:
this is especially challenging with modernly designed houses with flat roofs. The extreme heat and sunshine in the tropics can make concrete crack and these often only hairline sized cracks let water into the house causing water marks or more extensive damage. The remedy here is water proofing which comes in several methodologies: from a rubber like paint (some contractors offer a 10 year warranty on these) to PU injections (a chemical which gets injected into the concrete/bricks). Another material which gets used in creative ways is Epoxy: for a balcony which was not water proof and exposed to the weather we chose an Epoxy coating on top of the existing tile and it worked out quite pretty:
BEFORE EPOXY COATING:
AFTER EPOXY COATING:
Even traditional slanted roofs with metal roofing or clay roof tiles can have gaps which lets water in. We recently had the case of one of our luxury bungalows having severe water inflow during the rainy season - it caused water marks on the ceiling boards and water dripped through the ceiling downlights. We discovered that the gutter on the roof which had two metal roof sheets in a V-shaped way tilting towards it and emptying the surface water into it, was made from zinc instead of stainless steel. This had lead to corrosion and holes in the gutter. To replace the corroded zinc gutter with a new stainless steel gutter would have proven very difficult, so we installed a new stainless steel gutter on top of it it.
2. Helping water escape:
We went on a trip to Melacca once and visited a Peranakan mansion (the Blue Mansion). These traditional houses often had court yards in the middle. The guide explained that in Feng Shui (a Chinese theory of harmonising your home) water / rain symbolised wealth. So the court yard in the house was allowing rain / wealth to enter. Practicality however, demanded that the water had to drain or it would flood the house. To ensure a slow diminishing of the water that entered the court yard (which equalled the wealth entering the home), the drains were looped in a snake like pattern, so the water (wealth) would only run off slowly. Wealth was supposed to come in quickly but escape slowly.
Because of the incredibly big amounts of water of tropical rainfalls, proper drainage is paramount. A well designed house has integrated a proper water management: where does all the rain which falls on the roof, terraces and landscape go? The design is most important, but the regular maintenance and upkeep is another. The constant 'summer' means there are leaves clogging up gutters and drains 365 days a year. Regular gutter cleaning is un-avoidable. Another commonly encountered problem are roots entering the drainage and blocking it. Here a few recent examples which show that drain cleaning with proper drain cleaning tools is as important as gutter cleaning:
3. Red algae or moss on walls:
Extreme humidity in tropical countries like Malaysia means red algae or moss easily grow on external walls, especially on walls which are not or little exposed to the sun. There are several ways to deal with this unsightly problem: it can be prevented to a certain extend by using anti algae/moss paint. Most paints have actually anti algae/moss properties. However this is not a forever solution, algae/moss will appear again after a while. To remove it, products such as Gori Algae & Moss Remover can be used which also prevent re-growth for a period of time. A simple vinegar/water mix can also help remove algae and moss. And a pressure washer does a quick job in cleaning a wall if the algae is not too stubborn.
Well maintained houses mean a lot of work in our tropical climate where nature never rests.
And it sets us apart from our competition that we aim high when it comes to maintaining our rental luxury properties.