Caulk, Lawns and Contractors

Caulk, Lawns and Contractors

Dear Maintenance Men:

One of my maintenance chores I do is caulking and sealing shower/tub fixture flanges and shower walls. My problem is getting the caulking to dry before a resident uses the shower. Any Suggestions?



Dear David:

A lot of people will say: “Just tell the resident not to use the shower till the caulking is dry.” Well, it doesn’t work, and by the time you are driving away from the building, your resident is already taking a shower and your fresh caulking is washing down the drain. Your caulk should cure at least 24 hours before use. Water-based latex caulking is easy to use, but very susceptible to water until it is cured. Try using a silicone or polyurethane-based caulking for doing tubs, showers, toilets, sinks or other wet locations. It tends to set quickly and will repel water during its cure time.


Another solution we have found that works well with very busy showers is to remove all the fixtures, including the showerhead and arm, valve handles and tub spout, before caulking. (A bit extreme, but effective.) We then plug the showerhead and tub spout with a capped pipe. Then caulk the tub/shower. We come back 24 hours later and reinstall all the fixtures.


One more thought: if you have sliding shower doors for your tub, check the bottom track. If it is loose, do not caulk until the track is removed, cleaned and dried. Reinstall the track with new adhesive caulk to hold it down and caulk the edges to keep the water out.


Dear Maintenance Men:

I own a small apartment building with an average amount of landscaping around the property. I have a garden service that comes each week. They cut and edge and do what they are supposed to do, I think; although they don’t spend a lot of time at the property. What should I expect from my landscapers or garden service?



Dear John:

We have a minimum list of items that must be completed at a property. If these items are skipped or ignored, we feel the property will suffer. On a weekly basis, we expect the garden service to provide the following:

  1. Cut the grass.
  2. Edge the grass.
  3. Pull out weeds between the sidewalk cracks, walk around the building, including the alley.
  4. Turn over the dirt in all the flowerbeds each week.
  5. Pick up any trash around the property.
  6. Broom, blow or hose down the walkways.
  7. Turn on the sprinkler lines, check for clogged heads, broken lines, etc.
  8. Check that the timer is set properly.
  9. Cut, trim and thin any shrubs or bushes.
  10. Maintain communication with the owner about problems or improvements.

The above list takes time, a half hour minimum at a small property. If your landscape gardener completed the list on a weekly basis, you could very well have the best looking property on the block! Which means higher rents… if you add color flowers… even higher rents!


Finding a landscape gardener to do the above list consistently is not easy. Ask your Apartment Association for recommendations or look in your neighborhood or city for a property with outstanding landscaping and ask who the gardener is. Have him give you a quote according to your “list.” Keep in mind a landscape company or gardener who gives the above service will charge more than a “blow and go” gardener; however, your property will reflect their above average service.


Dear Maintenance Men,

I am planning major remodel work to my fourplex and need some advice. My contractor has told me not to worry and he will have everything under control but I know that city inspections can cause serious delays if we are not ready for them or do something wrong. I am not an expert or experienced in construction, what should I watch for as far as the actual inspections are concerned?



Dear Bob:

It is not often we are able to share our experience on the actual general contracting and building side of our business, so thank you for your question. We have listed the top reasons why professionals do not pass inspections taken from a 2015 JLC (Journal of Light Construction) survey.

  • Foundation: improper reinforcement or support of rebar.
  • Wall Framing: missing fire-blocks, hold down straps, etc.
  • Floor Framing: missing anchor bolts, sheeting nails missing joist.
  • Trusses: bracing not installed, improperly connected to wall plate.
  • Roofing: over driving of nails in shingles, missing nails, incorrect felt.
  • Window and Door: improper flashing, inadequate fire rating, improper weather stripping.
  • Handrail: improper height or spacing.
  • Plumbing: missing nail plates, improper pipe support.
  • Electrical: missing grounds, GFCI protection, labeling of circuits.
  • Decks: deck not built according to the plans, improper handrail installation.


WE NEED Maintenance Questions!!! If you would like to see your maintenance question in the “Dear Maintenance Men” column, please send in your questions to:

If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc., at 714-956-8371. Frank Alvarez is a licensed contractor and the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance and construction for over 20 years. He is also a lecturer and educational instructor for the Apartment Association. Frank can also be reached at For more info please go to: Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker and has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.