By James Park
How to Find Your
Building Superintendent's Hours and Salary
in Two Minutes or Less [Free Calculator]
Why are hours of building superintendent important?
Since starting a building superintendent company, one of the hardest things I’ve faced time and time again was coming up with how long it takes for a building super to perform basic cleaning services at a particular building. The price we offer our customers is really just a function of time, so a slip-up in this time calculation can lead to a serious underestimating or overestimating of the price, which creates equally bad outcomes for everyone in either case.
For instance, overestimating the time and expense of a super not only wastes the building’s reserves but it can negatively impact your super because too much idle time leads to workplace boredom, which can be as stressful and damaging as overwork, according to Psychology Today.1
On the other hand, underestimation creates overwork, stress and fatigue, which can lead to consequences similar to overestimation. When rushed, your building superintendent can also make costly and careless mistakes on the job and face a decline of morale. So you can get why it’s critical to get this estimate as exact as possible.
When we first started and I was asked to bid our super services, I would visit a prospective building with our most experienced team member and performing a full walk-through. He would eyeball the workload by looking at the building’s attributes, such as number of apartments, and then come up with his estimate. Doing the same, I would also make my own. I started to see a problem when our numbers differed drastically. I felt more frustrated when these numbers seemed to change with a particular mood or on any given day.
Determining the Hidden Variables that Affect Your Building Superintendent's Work
So, I began working on a formula for buildings that would help us determine this number with blazing and consistent accuracy, one which wouldn’t change from one day to the next. It was supposed to give us the total number of cleaning hours needed for a building regardless of the number of units it has (under 80 units), flights of stairs, number of stairwells, working elevators or the host of other building attributes that vary along the Manhattan residential landscape. No matter which attribute, I’d know exactly its effect on the building superintendent’s overall time needed to take care of the building on a part-time or visiting super schedule.
Quickly the challenges presented themselves.
- Which attributes should count?
- How does one standardize time for attributes that vary from building to building, such as lobbies, stairwells and hallways?
- Should all apartments be counted equally or be split along the number of bedrooms?
- Should an apartment being used as a pied-a-terre count? And others.
There isn’t a clear answer for many of these. I’ll admit that my journey to make the perfect formula was bumpy, based on lots of testing and tweaking of the formula through a countless number of buildings. Attributes that I ultimately decided to include in this formula were those that I found clearly and substantially pushed the super’s time higher.
Some skepticism remains. A smart colleague of mine is still adamant that I should calculate by the number of full legal bedrooms rather than treating every Manhattan apartment equally. I agree, but this wouldn’t end the ambiguity, either, in favor of possibly the clearest method by determining exactly how many residents, roommates, etc. continuously reside at the building. But, I’ll be first to admit, as a Manhattan resident myself, that this is a level of information that New Yorkers are probably not comfortable giving. So, back to square one….
Putting it All Together and Making It Look Cool and Easy at a Board Meeting
This formula, embodied in the calculator below, is meant to be a quick, back-of-the-envelope sketch of how many hours your super will need under a part-time plan. I created this calculator for Co-op and Condo boards, building managers and part-time supers who are struggling to find the right number.
Just remember, however, whether you’re a board member, manager or super, use this calculator with a grain of salt and don’t deprive yourself of a full walk-through to confirm the results. Some reminder warnings when using this formula:
- It’s for buildings with 80 or less units. More apartments, and you’re likely looking at a full-time, live-in super situation.
- It calculates hours meant to maintain a reasonable level of cleanliness. Some buildings, on the other hand, may want more and “reasonable” may just not be enough. Cases like these require a follow-up meeting between the parties and then a building walk-through to get everyone on the same page about what’s exactly needed. It’s all about managing expectations!
- The numbers actually should include some minor maintenance tasks, like flushing the boiler and clearing the roof drains (subject to some reasonable limitations).
Are you ready to Start?
If you're ready to check out the numbers for your building, click here to try this calculator. Have fun and please share your thoughts!
See below for a brief video tutorial on using the calculator:
1. LaBier, Douglas, "Feeling Bored at Work? Three Reasons Why and What Can Free You," Psychology Today, May 3, 2010, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201005/feeling-bored-work-three-reasons-why-and-what-can-free-you