Don't Do It Yourself The Dangers of DIY Repairs

Every once in a while, one hears about a co-op or condo that has been neglected for some time and has some problems in its common areas. Dirt builds up on the lobby floor, the fluorescent lights on the ceiling flicker, paint is chipped from some of the hallway walls, and perhaps the small outdoor garden is overgrown.

If the building is short of cash, resident experts—designers, electricians, engineers, contractors, gardeners, even real estate brokers—who happen to live in the building, or who are friends of those residents, may suddenly present themselves. They say they can either do the job for free or for a very low fee, as a favor to the building.

Should the management company or the board take advantage of "in-house" talent and bypass the regular process of bidding out the job or calling in their usual vendor or service provider?

Most experts say no—"don't do it yourself," even if the person offering their help is a licensed professional. The reasons take into account a variety of factors, such as insurance, legal requirements, liability, guarantees, and even community harmony.

Staying Good Neighbors

What are some typical scenarios in which a board might consider a do-it-yourself type of approach, at least in a common-space environment?

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