22 - January 2019 Woodall’s Campground Management Maintaining Your Investment: Experts Talk About Ways to Keep Campground Cabins Looking Good For many campground and RV park owners, offering cabins, park models and other unique accommodations for rental has become a way to drive traffic into their parks — and more money into their bank accounts. However, such accommodations come with their own set of challenges and usually require continual mainte- nance. At the 2018 Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) International Convention and Expo in Fort Worth, Texas, this past November, a panel discussed tips that owners can utilize in their own parks when it comes to maintaining accommodation units. The panel consisted of Chuck Spencer, the owner of the Denver West/Central City KOA Holiday in Central City, Colo.; Kris Brunelle, accommodations manager at the Port Huron KOA Resort; and Beth Benedict, of Great Falls, Mont.-based Prairie Kraft Specialties, a manufac- turer of log cabins. The session was moderated by Fred Prichard, KOA’s director of sites and accommodations. Below are the edited highlights of the panel’s discussion. Fred Prichard:Are there tips owners can follow to reduce water damage and wood rot in their cabins? Beth Benedict: Water is one of the biggest enemies to your camping cab- ins because of wood rot. Wood rot is caused by three main things: the tem- perature is above freezing; there’s an oxygen source; and there’s prolonged exposure to water or the humidity inside the wood is above 30%. If any of those three things are not present the wood won’t rot. But you can’t control the temperature and you can’t control the source of oxygen; the only thing you really have some control over is whether or not your cabins are being exposed to water. So the idea is to keep the water away from the cabins. There are areas where your cabins are the most susceptible to rot. • One is around an air-conditioning unit. Sometimes if it’s set on an angle where the water pools on top of the unit it runs back into the cabin. The simple solution to the problem would be to get a little piece of sheet metal and make a drip shield that goes over that and just flings the water away from it. • Another area is the bottom log course of your cabin. Maybe water’s running off the roof, hitting the dirt, splashing mud up on the cabin and that wet mud is sitting on the bottom log course and causing it to rot. • There can also be issues with cab- ins that have crosscut ends. Maybe the roof eaves aren’t far enough over and so you’ve got water running off the roof and then spilling down onto those crosscut ends and wicking in from the end. • The rear window of a cabin may not have been caulked above its rear piece of trim when it was installed and so you have got a place where water can get in under that piece of trim. • Also, porch railings can be suscep- tible because campers may be laying their wet beach towels over the top of the railing to dry them out. Over time the exposure to water causes those railings to rot. Some locations have porch decks that are pooling water, so around the porch posts where it is sit- ting in water or mud, that area can start to rot. So, really as an owner if you see signs of rot the main goal is to identify the source of the water and try to stop it or shield that water away from the cabin. Prichard: Siding is important for deluxe cabins and other units. What are some ideas on how to repair dam- aged siding and when does it need to be replaced? Kris Brunelle: On some of the park models that we have they did not prepare the siding before they stained it so it has started deteriorating and peeling. We are set to replace five of our park models’ siding with a siding made by Louisiana-Pacific. We also have seen some of the boarding behind the siding start to deteriorate because there are not gutters or anything and the water has just been running down the side of our park models. So, the water gets behind the siding and is has started to rot the boarding. What we have done in the past is to just take a paint chip of the siding and go down to the local hardware store and match it as best as possible. Then we get all of the peeling paint off as best we can, sand everything down until it is smooth and put some of our own stain on it. We try to match it as best as possible until we can replace the boards. Prichard: That is coming back and fixing an issue,but what can we do to prevent the mess to begin with? What can be done to prevent the deteriora- tion,because many owners don’t want to have to re-side their cabins? Brunelle: We actually tore off every single panel and we added a J-channel behind it. That prevents the water from getting behind the siding and rotting the boards underneath. We have also added gutters to our units. Chuck Spencer: I came from the airline industry before my life in the hotel industry and I have learned to create a checklist for every single thing that we do on the property. Every Wednesday my maintenance guy dou- bles up with another person and they walk through the entire park with a checklist — and one of the things they inspect around the cabins is checking for caulk. Our park is located at over 9,000 feet above sea level and from the beginning of the summer to the end of summer I bet we re-caulk cabins three or four times because of the changes in temperatures and the moisture con- tent between the snow and the heat. The intense heat up there is amazing, so we’re constantly caulking our cab- ins. Ours are no more than eight years old, but that’s just the maintenance part of things. It is mainly just about staying on top of everything. Prichard: Floors inside the cabins are also important to maintain and they can get worn down by all of the FredPrichard Left to right: Chuck Spencer, Kris Brunelle, Beth Benedict and Fred Prichard during the Lodging Maintenance Panel at the KOA convention. This before and after picture shows the difference refinishing a cabin’s exterior can make on the appearance of the structure. Simple maintenance tasks, along with some larger projects, like refinishing the exterior of a cabin, can give accommodation units a new lease on life.