One of the largest questions we get at Key CMI is about managing maintenance issues in a Homeowners Association scenario. Has your board of directors ever embarked on a significant community project, and once completed, it became evident the quality of the job didn’t meet expectations, but you sure saved a lot of money? HOA board members face the delicate task of accomplishing the maintenance needs and desires of their association while balancing cost and quality of work.
As a board member, it is helpful to take a look at the maintenance goals for HOAs and what types of maintenance issues you will be responsible for addressing. This is helpful for planning your strategy for success.
4 Primary Goals for HOAs in Managing Maintenance Issues That Arise
- To preserve and enhance the common property within the community as specified in the CCRs
- To protect property values of the homes or units through successful maintenance of the common property
- To meet the needs of residents in relation to the association’s responsibilities per the CCRs
- To limit potential exposure to injury to residents, guests and vendors
5 Types of Maintenance Issues That May Arise for HOAs and Recommended Number of Quotes to Secure
- Routine maintenance
- The regular ongoing upkeep that must be done, such as mowing the grass on common property. This is typically accomplished by having a service contract with a vendor.
- We recommend securing 3 initial quotes when looking for a landscaper, pond management company, pool management company, etc.
- Preventative maintenance
- Periodic maintenance that helps to avoid breakdowns in equipment and may prolong the life of the community’s assets.
- We recommend securing 3 initial quotes when looking for a vendor such as an HVAC company to conduct periodic inspections of a system at a clubhouse, or a company that services chimneys if a clubhouse has a fire place. Often, you can sign an annual contract with these types of vendors so you won’t have to remember to schedule them each time a visit is needed. They will contact the management company to set a time to come out when needed.
- Emergency services maintenance
- The ability to respond quickly to unpredictable issues.
- Because time is of the essence in these types of circumstances, we recommend the board maintains a list of “go to” vendors for common repair items that may arise.
- Often, multiple quotes are not secured, especially if you have access to a vendor that already works with your community that you trust.
- Requested maintenance
- Maintenance requested by a resident, a contractor, or seen during a site visit by the community manager.
- The number of quotes secured depends on the scope of the work to be done and its urgency. Based on various factors, one to three quotes may be secured.
- Reserve replacement
- Replacement of physical assets as they wear out or break.
- We recommend securing 3 initial quotes, as these are typically for larger items that are visible to the residents such as a pool or entrance monument, which would have a significant impact on the association’s budget.
The Importance of Vendor Relations for Your HOA
Whether you currently work with a management company, or are self-managing, we find that all HOAs benefit from strong relationships with vendors. This includes those that have annual contracts and those you may need to contact periodically when maintenance issues arise. From our experience, the turn-around time of getting a price quote and getting a job done is much quicker than if you have to search for a vendor, tell them about your community, provide the location, explain the specific issue and wait for a quote. Remember, knowledgeable and dependable vendors can actually make your job easier and help make you a successful board member because they accomplish the maintenance needs on your to do list!
Board Members Should Establish a Work Order Process for Maintenance Issues in Your Community
If you work with a management company, your community manager should be clear on how the board would like to manage maintenance needs. It is important the board trusts the community manager to follow the proper process, and to complete projects that are initiated. It is equally important for the process to be reasonable, and not cause the manager unnecessary work or time lost in getting the job accomplished.
We had an experience with an HOA board that asked the manager to secure multiple quotes for every job, no matter the scope. While initially this was a necessity due to low available funds, the board didn’t approve a revised protocol once the concern over cash flow dissipated. The problem with this is, for example, if it is an electrical repair that is needed for the entrance monument lights, a vendor may become frustrated if he has to come on-site, provide a bid, wait to hear back, and may not get the job, all for a $150 repair. The time lost by everyone in getting additional bids for a small job like this isn’t worth it. We recommend you have a “go to” vendor for jobs like this that you trust. This allows the vendor to go out and make the repair quickly. It may be helpful to request that the vendor call the community manager or a board member contact while on-site to provide a verbal quote and to confirm that are no concerns about proceeding. It is good to have it stated in an HOA management contract the maximum amount the community manager can approve for a job without board approval.
For larger projects, the board may want to check references and see other jobs a vendor has done. In some cases, it is helpful to appoint a committee made up of homeowners to help with this process and provide them with a project scope and time-line for bringing their recommendations to the board.
If you would like to talk with Key Community Management about how we can help your community manage its maintenance needs, contact us today at 704-321-1556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.