As buildings age, small and large maintenance issues arise, and condo boards are called upon to address these situations. The questions frequently revolve around whether to use in-house staff (if the condo employs them) or to hire an outside company to fix the problem. If the complex retains a management company, especially one that has its own maintenance division, the situation can become a bit more complicated.
Let’s look at a typical maintenance issue. The balcony railings on nearly all of the 20 units in a condo complex are rotting and need to be replaced. Board members of the self-managed condo association need to make a decision. They have one maintenance person on staff and he has carpentry expertise but he’s never replaced 20 railings at once. Should he be pulled away from his regular duties to fix the railings, or should the project be outsourced?
There’s no easy formula to apply, but rather a few commonsense questions to be addressed.
Sizing Up the Job
Condo board members need to look at the size of the job and the expertise of their on-site staff, says Andrew Raynor, president of Shawmut Property Management in North Andover, Massachusetts. If the staff person has carpentry skills but lacks masonry experience, for example, then you’d be more likely to assign him basic carpentry repairs but outsource masonry work. The condo association may save money on carpentry but pay more for things like masonry services.
But board members should be carefulabout steering every project to an on-site person in hopes of saving money, Raynor says. “Vendored services aren’t always more expensive. If you ask a site person who works on an hourly basis to do a job he’s not trained for, he can take more time than a trained person. It can also be more costly down the road to fix any mistakes.”