Enoma Osakue
About Author
May 26, 2020

Brooklyn Living: How Airtable Helped Me Manage Maintenance Requests

TL;DR: I was fed up with my landlord. So I built an app using Airtable to manage the lifecycle of maintenance requests.

I moved to Brooklyn in 2015 for cheaper rent and cozier neighborhoods. Living in BK has left me with more than a few questions at times, like:

Aren't There Supposed to Be Closets?

Y’all, they are really out here building rooms and boxing in 2sq ft as a closet. I’ve now lived in two apartments where a “bedroom” had no closet at all. It’s as if they think no one has any suitcases or long clothing that need to be stored.

Often there is no general purpose closet in the living space. Where are we supposed to put our coats, brooms, or vacuum? There is no easy-pasy-lemon-squeezy solution for tucking away large cleaning supplies in an open room.

What Do Landlords Have Against Medicine Cabinets?

I have a wall of mirror in a bathroom with no cabinets. Not an upper cabinet, not a lower sink vanity, nothing. What gives?

Do Y’all Have Soap Dishes?

Because I don’t. And since moving to Brooklyn I never have. It’s like at an annual convention of landlords they determined that tiling a cut out for hair products and soap was an amenity and that they should never be bothered to glue/screw in a dish.

Does My Landlord Know Maintenance is a Thing?

One of my landlords didn’t have a system for keeping track of requests or informing his handymen what needed to be done. We had a half a dozen email threads going for weeks and no signs of progress. Eventually, I got tired and took matters into my own hands.

Calling on Airtable

Airtable is a cloud-based spreadsheet-database creator and manager. I’ve been using it for years to design and manage a magazine, track important contacts, schedule editorial content, organize gifts and donations etc. This time, I created an app that would let us fill out a form and automatically contact our landlord about what needed to be done and when he could send someone over.

How Airtable Helped Me Manage Work Order Requests In My Apartment

My first step was to make a table to log the things we had previously asked the LL to do. I made columns for the location and type of request and filled in the details from our exhaustive email chain. I printed this out as check-list of sorts for the maintenance team to refer to when they stopped by

Eventually, I got tired of doing the whole email to manual entry to manual follow-up process. Airtable has an API that allows you to integrate with other tools on the web. So, I connected Airtable to Gmail using web hooks and IFTTT. Now every new row in Airtable automatically emailed our landlord and cc’d the roommates.

Our landlord needed some hand-holding to ensure that things got done. So my next step was to create some kind of feedback loop in the system. I used the service fut.io to help resend this email to our landlord whenever he didn’t follow up. I simply cc’d the right fut.io email address and created an auto-reminder.

Have you been looking for a better way to track DIY projects, ideas, or even maintenance requests at home? I 100% recommend you take a look at Airtable (referral link).

Are you an enoma.co member? I'll be sharing a tutorial on how to build a base that sends emails automatically with my Free Members next month. You can sign up below.

Photo by Brandon Nickerson from Pexels

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