They say that a stitch in time saves nine. But when dealing with exterior maintenance and repairs for your condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association, that proverbial stitch can save nines – or tens – of thousands of dollars. Small problems gone overlooked can amplify into debilitating damage to a property, depleted reserves, or huge assessments to owners or shareholders.
Because of the high cost of large repair projects, it’s in an association’s best interest to stay on top of regular maintenance as much as it possibly can, which means planning in advance. Establishing a detailed – yet still flexible – annual working timetable based on seasonal weather patterns, regular amenity check-ups, roofing concerns, and other moderately predictable scenarios with which the association must deal is essential in keeping both costs down and property values up.
“The most important thing for an association, when it comes to regular exterior maintenance, is to have a calendar of events in place,” urges Brent Straitiff, a principal and co-founder of TriView, a property management company in Chicago. “And it can’t be static! I can’t speak for other management companies, but we have a dynamic calendar into which we put everything that needs to happen with an association, whether that be on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis. This creates tickets in our system at specified times that alert managers whenever task will soon need to be completed.
“The calendar is revised every year in accordance with an association’s budget to make sure that it remains consistent, and that everything is getting done,” Straitiff continues. “As new items are discovered, or existing events are shown to require a modified approach, the calendar must allow space to display adjusted information about a specific topic. This goes for contracts as well; the calendar must indicate to managers the appropriate times that different contracts may be expiring, so that management can take the appropriate action. That could mean giving a vendor notice, or exploring alternative options for that particular contract, such as renegotiation.”
Speaking of vendors, it’s worth soliciting recommendations for and establishing relationships with trusted parties before they’re needed in an emergency, such that an association does not find itself held over a barrel when it comes time to sign a contract or pay up.