Sooner or later, every resident in a condo or HOA community will have to deal with the inconvenience of living through a major capital improvement project—a roof replacement, an elevator rehab, serious exterior work, or something of that nature. No matter how carefully the project is scheduled, inevitably it will be disturbing someone. But with strategic planning and constant communication among board members and trustees, residents, management and the project crew, the hassle of the project can be significantly reduced.
Those Pesky Projects
All capital improvement projects have their major inconveniences but industry professionals note that some are definitely more disruptive than others.
“In terms of the projects themselves, any time you have to go inside of a residence, that increases the coordination of a project significantly,” says Jules Lefcowitz, principal of Community Planners LLC, a project planning company in Branford, Connecticut. The association is usually responsible for maintaining or replacing common utilities and waterlines, which can be a big project and require a lot of alignment between many parties, he adds.
Making improvements to the building’s exterior can also be a challenge. “The most disruptive types of construction projects that I have found are building envelope projects, in particular where you have to remove and replace windows as part of the project because you need access to the interior of the unit owner's home. Then there is generally touch-up in some areas that needs to be done on the inside of the unit,” explains David Barrett, PCAM, director of operations at Crowninshield Management Corp. in Peabody, Massachusetts. “This all involves coordination with entering units and scheduling to have people to be available, and that can be the most disruptive.”
Repaving parking lots has also proven to require tip-top organizational skills from management. Michael Phillips, chief operating officer of The Copley Group, a management firm in Boston, was recently involved in a parking project for one of his properties that required residents to park in an alternative parking lot for a week. “The project lasted about a month but we were able to have the contractor do what they needed to do with the spaces and have people back in while the project was still underway,” he says.