Worn-out or damaged common areas in community associations can hurt overall property values and send the wrong message. Of course, a newly-refurbished grand entrance and beautiful common areas that give owners bragging rights are universally popular.
But when it comes to paying for that refurbished lobby, the consensus can break down. Some owners may want replicas instead of original art to save money, or low-maintenance floor tiles in place of carpet that needs frequent shampooing. And if the lobby and common areas aren’t “too awful,” there are always a handful of frugal owners who insist renovating can wait “a year or two.”
With such a multitude of interests, how does a condominium determine when its common areas are due for renovation, and how much renovationis in order?
For all renovation projects, it’s up to the board members to make the aesthetic and economic decisions, while maintaining a balance of interests. Juggling these challenges is not an easy task, especially when faced with homeowners whose interests are diverse and often cross-generational, and who maynot be sold on the project’s value.
Robert Brown, chairman of the Board of Trustees at Thomas Graves Landing Condominiums in Cambridge, Massa-chusetts, recognizes these challenges. According to Brown, “The hardest challenge for the board when faced with capital improvement projects is keeping a balance between controlling costs and maintaining and enhancing the value of the property.” David J. Levy, PCAM, president of Sterling Services, Inc. a property management company in Holliston, Massachusetts, agrees. “There is a division of interests amongst residents which requires balance. One faction wants their building to look great, no matter the cost. The other faction stands firm, stating there is no way you will spend that much of their money.” With over 20 years of experience addressing these issues, Levy believes “the key to a successful renovation project is beingas inclusive as possible in getting all of the shareholders involved as early as possible, often years in advance.”