Whether because of convenience, the desire for autonomy, or a tight budget, some condo and HOA communities opt not to retain an outside management company or an agent to handle their respective day-to-day administrative and maintenance needs. But without proper oversight and experience, the vitality of the building and property – along with the residents who call it home – can face jeopardy.
First Things First
“One of the biggest maintenance-related challenges is simply having a good maintenance schedule in place to identify what needs to be maintained, how is it maintained, and how often is it maintained,” says Peter Miller, a principal at the Annapolis, Maryland-based reserve studies firm Miller Dodson Associates. “It is also important for the board of directors to provide an adequate maintenance budget so that these components, systems, and facilities can be maintained properly.”
Boards must have a plan in place to deal with disasters—natural or otherwise, adds Miller. “Dramatic events like exploding boilers or roof blow-offs show why we need to have a plan for dealing with disasters,” he says. “But the more frequent occurrence are failing boilers and leaking roofs due to lack of maintenance, or lack of adequate reserve funds for their timely replacement.”
Aside from planning for potential disasters, boards have to stay on top of routine, day-to-day tasks. Regular maintenance of the building’s vitals, along with knowledge of aging components like elevators and roofs, are essential to a successful operation.
“Typically the largest expenses we see for townhome associations are roofing, building exterior envelope issues, and asphalt —such as parking driveways,” says Robert Nordlund, founder and CEO of the Calabasas, California-based Association Reserves, Inc. “For multi-story buildings, roofing and asphalt tend to diminish in significance, with interior assets like carpet, hallways, lobbies, common rooms, and major mechanical [elements] like elevators becoming significant.