Self Inspections

Every residential property should develop and use a preventive maintenance program.

A key feature of effective preventive maintenance programs is the scheduled self inspection. Self inspections allow an owner to find and address existing or potential problems, before damage or injury occurs.

Your preventative maintenance program should outline who will carry out the inspection, and when. Perform self inspections at least every six months. Use a checklist, listing the all sites and items to inspect. The building manager should review these inspections and address any issues that discovered.

Things to look for...


Inspect for dry rot, termite, vehicle or weather damage or other wear.

  • Building walls
  • Stairs
  • Landings
  • Balconies
  • Garages
  • Carports
  • Support buildings


Should be well secured, with no give or wobble.

  • Stair treads
  • Handrails
  • Guardrails


  • Tree limbs should trimmed away from buildings, particularly roofs and gutters.
  • Composition Shingles
    • Ensure shingles are in place and in good condition.
  • Clay Tiles
    • Inspect for cracked, broken or missing tiles.
  • Wood Shake / Shingle
    • Treat roof every few years with a fire retardant.
    • Replace shingles that have become dry, loose or are missing.
  • Pitched Roof
    • Inspect a for worn, damaged or missing shingles or tiles.
  • Flat Roof
    • Check for standing water
    • Check for stains and discoloration left by standing water.
    • Repair or replace flashing and sealers annually, preferably before the rainy season.
    • Drains should be free from obstruction.


  • Find any potholes or large cracks. These should be filled.
  • Apply a sealing coating as often as climate dictates.

Concrete Walkways

  • Inspect for elevation changes, or lips; these can cause a person to trip and fall.
  • Mark intentional elevations, such as steps, with a contrasting paint at the elevation change.


  • Establish preventive maintenance contracts for periodic servicing for HVAC, Plumbing & Sewer systems.
  • Inspect electrical panels, water heaters and natural gas appliances annually.


  • Consider any site specific features that are unique or problematic.
  • Look for signs of pests or vermin.

Vacancy Risks


While trends are improving, we are still seeing significant vacancies across all occupancy types. Vacant buildings are magnets for risk. Under-occupied buildings are at increased risk for criminal or maintenance related damage. Vacant buildings attract thieves and arsonists, vandals and vagrants. Because of the increased risk, insurance policies have wording that limits coverage when a property is vacant.

While general usage of the word vacant means completely unoccupied, a building does not need to be 100% empty for the vacancy limitations to be triggered. The policy definition will specify the conditions for vacancy. Like all standard property policies, MRMG contains a Vacant Building Special Endorsement which defines the terms of vacancy. A property is vacant when less than 25% of building SF is occupied for more than 60-90 consecutive days at the time a loss occurs. Buildings under construction are not considered vacant.

As a consequence of vacancy, certain exclusions and limitations are triggered on the policy. In the MRMG program the following coverages are excluded for vacant properties:

  • Vandalism

  • Sprinkler leakage (unless protected against freezing)

  • Glass Breakage

  • Water Damage

  • Theft or Attempted Theft

Further, any other covered loss's payment will be reduced by 10-15%!

What to do about vacant buildings

  • Notify us when a significant portion of your building is unoccupied.

  • Notify local police, fire, alarm and utility services that building is vacant. Asked to be contacted and informed of any unusual activity.

  • Keep all fire alarms, smoke detectors and sprinklers functioning.

  • Test fire equipment quarterly.

  • Inspect roof for leaks.

  • Keep property lit with motion detecting lights.

  • Keep doors and windows shut and locked.

  • Consider hiring an onsite guard.

  • Shut off any services not needed for fire protection or security services.

  • Do not store dangerous or flammable materials in a vacant building.

  • Perform regular walk throughs at least once a week.

  • Consider finding a worthy organization to occupy your building in exchange for maintenance.