1. Understand the 3 tools needed to be successful in tackling your community’s maintenance.
There are three things all communities need to be successful and ensure the safety and well-being of all residents: 1. Reserve Study and funding plan, 2. HOA Preventive Maintenance Manual or other plan, and 3.Preventive Maintenance Program. These 3 tools will provide you the ability to correctly budget, reduce the need for special assessments, increase the useful life of all common area components, reduce liabilities and community hazards, and lastly increase community home values.
2. Have a reserve study and funding plan in place.
It’s vitally important to have an up-to-date reserve study including a funding plan that ensures the funds needed will be available based on the anticipated common area expenditures. Save for a rainy day – don’t wait until it’s too late, or you may face potential backlash from community members as association assessments could drastically increase to make up for the lack of planning. A reserve study is built from expert opinions that accurately report the status of the community association asset life. The reserve study and funding plan are set in place after the recommendations are given based on the current physical conditions and expected useful life of the components. These costs are adjusted for inflation throughout the years and are calculated using years of statistical data and expert knowledge. Remember, however, that reserve studies give their analysis assuming no maintenance is done, therefore ensuring your community will have the funds necessary for whatever life throws at you.
3. Have a maintenance plan in place.
Having a maintenance plan in place is the second step insetting your community up for success. In the simplest form, the maintenance plan should identify all common area components you have responsibility for maintaining and when to inspect the components. A plan is just like any other tool - it is only as good as the individuals putting it to use. The most robust and beneficial type of maintenance plan would be an HOA Preventive Maintenance Manual. These manuals are the blueprint to community maintenance success. They not only outline all common area components, but they provide images, descriptions for each of the components, maintenance recommendations, as well as inspection schedules and checklists for easy implementation and vendor accountability.
Without a plan in place, the community manager is setting themselves and their community up for failure, and even worse, danger. It’s easy to forget important tasks and repairs, leading managers to spend resources on unnecessary solutions that could have been avoided. A maintenance plan can help you prevent unwanted potential legal battles that could have easily been prevented with regular corrective maintenance and preventive maintenance.
4. Know how to use your HOA maintenance manual.
Your HOA maintenance manual or maintenance plan contains everything you need to keep your community safe – it’s imperative you learn how to use it effectively. These manuals are easy-to-use and informative, but you must also have the community knowledge and understanding to successfully implement the tool. Your manual provides recommendations carefully curated by industry experts. It outlines how each community should execute the provided recommendations and encourages them to work with their various vendors to ensure all needed inspections are completed in a timely manner. This tool affords you all the necessary information to have the highest level of awareness of what your community needs.
5. Have a maintenance program in place.
A maintenance plan is a part of the industry’s best practices “trifecta” (having a reserve study, maintenance manual, and maintenance program). A maintenance program works in conjunction with a maintenance manual and is vital to ensure proper implementation; continued preventive maintenance will ensure that your community’s buildings and assets remain structurally sound, safe from hazards, and aesthetically pleasing. When faced with a low or shrinking budget, it’s easy to let the maintenance of certain components fall between the cracks. A deferred building’s cost to fix grows exponentially larger as time goes on. Many times, an ignored repair turns into a replacement. The maintenance program allows you to detect potential issues before it becomes a more expensive repair – saving you thousands of dollars over the years.
Having these three best practices in place allow the community association manager to support the board of directors to achieve their mandate to “maintain, protect and enhance” their community.