Those who handle the management of any kind of residential building deal with contractors and contracts regularly—but they aren’t the only ones who should know about the process. It’s not necessarily an arcane topic—whether the project is a major roof repair or complete window replacement, the construction process is usually pretty much the same. But what if mistakes are made in the construction process, either by the managing agent, a consultant or someone else in charge of these matters? Who’s responsible? Whose insurance coverage comes into play? What recourse exists for building communities having problems with their contractors?
Though a building’s managing agent is usually the one responsible for handling these construction-related transactions, board members also should have at least a passing knowledge of what documents, insurance and professional certifications are needed by anyone doing work for their building. It’s a simple question of boards doing what they can to protect themselves from unnecessary liabilities. It’s also a matter of residents working to protect the equity they’ve established in their homes, which for many is their largest asset.
So board members have settled on a bid from a qualified contractor, who appears capable and ready to do the job. Everything appears to be in order. Short of signing the contract and telling the contractor to go to work, what’s next? Those who are overseeing the construction project need to obtain from the contractor, and thoroughly inspect, all of the necessary paperwork for the project, says Peter Lehr, director of management for Kaled Management Corp. in Westbury.
“Check their certificates and insurance coverages, and make sure they’re all up-to-date,” Lehr says.
A building’s management should obtain a certificate of insurance liability from the contractor. This sounds simple, but it is not necessarily a simple matter. The scope of the project should determine how much insurance is needed, and board members and others overseeing the construction process should realize that some contractors will mistakenly (or intentionally) under-insure themselves on some projects. Verifying the specificity of credentials and coverage is of the utmost importance. A contractor performing exterior work on a building in which scaffolding is involved, for example, should have evidence of adequate insurance coverage for the job.