CAMP ZAMA (Dec. 16, 2019) -- To ensure community members get the quality, safe and clean housing they deserve, U.S. Army Garrison Japan contractors follow a thorough checklist when they maintain units between occupants.

Not only do workers conduct interior and exterior maintenance and repair work such as painting, roofing, carpentry, mechanical and electrical work, they also use mold-resistant paint inside, ensure exhaust vents are working properly and professionally clean all air conditioning units, among other measures.

"It is imperative to conduct a whole-house maintenance in between [occupants] so that residents can have a place to call home when they join Team Zama," said David Crespo, acting chief of the facilities branch of the USAG Japan Housing Management Division.

The idea is to provide housing that not only looks good on move-in day, but is also so thoroughly maintained that residents can enjoy a high quality of life throughout their tour, Crespo said.

The contractors work on more than 500 housing units a year, with the biggest spike occurring over the summer permanent-change-of-station season, Crespo said.

The work can take anywhere from five to 50 days, Crespo said, but the average turnaround time is 13 days.

Those who work for the contracting company work Monday through Saturday to get the work done, Crespo said.

"Our goal is to have something available [to newcomers] within 14 days of arrival," Crespo said.

So on any given work day on Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area, workers are renovating housing units, Crespo said.

It is typical for a house to get an interior fresh coat of paint and its floors buffed for new occupants, Crespo said, while housing tries to paint the exteriors of homes every five to 10 years.

"Replacement of household appliances, such as the stove, fridge, washer and dryers and AC units depends on if it is near or [has] exceeded its service life of about 10 years," Crespo said. "Smoke detectors are changed every six years."

Crespo said residents can help decrease housing wait times for future residents by taking advantage of the self-help program. The garrison provides self-help stores on Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area so residents can maintain units at no cost.

"When a current resident utilizes the self-help program to fix things around their house, toilet seats, burnt-out lighting, window screens, et cetera … it shortens the time the contractor needs to turn around a unit for the next occupant," Crespo said.

It also helps if residents call in for the maintenance and repair of items not covered under the self-help program, Crespo said.

Before contractors begin work on a unit, an inspector and contractor hold an inspection and determine how much work a unit requires, Crespo said.

"Afterwards, the contractor has one to three days to submit an estimate," Crespo said. "Once all parties are in agreement with the estimate, work commences."

Crespo said the housing division always strives to provide housing units that are ready for occupancy, but if residents ever find anything lacking, they should let housing know.

"The Camp Zama Housing Management Division is ready to assist you and your family with any concerns and to ensure that you are afforded the highest possible standards of living so that the unit will truly become your home," Crespo said.

The self-store on SFHA is in Building 250, and the contact number is (DSN) 315-263-4639 or (COMM) 046-407-4639, and the self-help store on Camp Zama is in Building 694, and the contact number is (DSN) 315-267-6080 or (COMM) 046-407-6080.

Residents can call the Directorate of Public Works maintenance line with housing issues at (DSN) 315-263-4613 or (DSN) 315-263-4274 or (COMM) 046-407-4613 or (COMM) 046-407-4274.