Preventive Maintenance Builds Value

Many community associations are growing old and not always gracefully.  Dry rot, extensive wood boring insect damage, leaking roofs, siding falling off, water intrusion and hefty additional assessments seem to be the order of the day due to the lake of funding reserves properly.  Letting major preventive maintenance items slide year after year is not the answer.  Homeowner’s property in associations that are well maintained will sell faster and for more money.  It’s a matter of protecting and maintaining the value of the asset, a Board’s primary and legal responsibility.  So how can those associations that want to maintain their assets do so with a minimal amount of funds and energy?

Preventive Maintenance

Get Committed:  The board needs to first go on record that it’s committed to a preventive maintenance program.  Consider enacting a formal written resolution approved by the Board that insists that professional quality maintenance of the property is a commitment to follow.  As boards change, they will be held to this standard.

Get Organized: Find volunteers for a Maintenance Committee.  If any of them have experience in construction, design, or architecture that’s better.  Next, put together a job description for the Committee outlining the major responsibilities and timelines for completion of certain tasks.

Develop a Component List:  Besides the obvious components like roofs, paint, paving, etc, there may be other not-so-obvious components.  Water flow from top to bottom of your buildings is probably the most important concern you should have.

Physically Inspect the Components:  Many boards have never taken the time to walk around the property on a “maintenance inspection” and those that do often do not possess the proper skills.  Choose the people carefully, interview potential contractors and hire them to work with your committee of volunteers and to inspect the entire building from rooftop to grading.  Include reputable, license and qualified contractors, engineers or certified building inspectors.  These people are trained to look for potential problems and design deficiencies.  Although they may charge for their time, you will save money in the long run.

Once you have completed your walk-through, categorize all components in the following manner:

Building Components: Roofs, gutters, windows, siding and trim, water flow, etc

Site Components: Pavement, concrete, area lighting, fences, entry monuments, etc

Landscaping Components: Time clocks, sprinkler heads, controllers, water features, etc

Recreational Components: Pool, tennis courts, playground, exercise room clubhouse, etc

Develop a Maintenance Plan: Create a guideline for maintenance for each component insisting that “professional lasting repairs are to be completed.  Avoid the “band aid” mentality… it will cost you dearly and typically hurt the sense of community you have established.  Use your current service providers to determine reasonable methods and costs.

Allocate the Funds:  The best maintenance plan in the world is useless if not properly funded.  Since money comes from the operating budget, it is critical to have the plan that justifies an increase in the operating budget.  Build the budget around the maintenance program.  Increase monthly assessments as opposed to funding the project by a special assessment.

Follow-up on the Work:   Have the Maintenance Committee or association manager do monthly (at least quarterly) inspections and put the observations in writing for the file.  The report can be used as a checklist for the maintenance or landscaping people doing corrective work, annually.

Build Service Continuity: Establish long-term relationships with reputable service providers for continuity.  If a preventive maintenance program is implemented, the Association can not only protect itself from unscheduled special assessments, potential lawsuits, but will enhance the unit values as well.  The purpose of preventive maintenance is to spend money now, but also save a lot later.