Is Your Condo Building Ready for the Year Ahead?
And just like that, we’re nearing the end of another year. With the New Year just around the corner, wouldn’t it be nice if your condominium’s building maintenance caused as minimal interruption to your condo residents as possible?
By proactively planning and scheduling building work required for the year ahead now, your board will be able to organize finances and ensure budgets are appropriately dialled in, helping to keep your condo owners and building tenants happy.
Taking the time to plan your condo building’s year ahead in November will help streamline projects as you’ll be able to prioritize projects and align them with the calendar year ahead. In addition, with this proactive prep work in priorities, your board can source quotes between November and February for those specific projects required in the spring and / or summer. This then allows you to take your time reviewing and comparing quotes, and then schedule it during your condo board’s preferred time.
Unfortunately, many condo boards typically do not take this proactive approach and only begin to collect quotes at the time the work needs to be done. With this approach, your condo board may have issues with:
- Coordinating board members
By knowing what projects need to be quoted and when they’ll begin, you increase your ability to coordinate specific tasks with each project with specific board members and sub-committees.
- Spring / summer cost increases
Sometimes, costs for work may spike over the spring and summer. By collecting quotes and locking in a price during the colder months, you may avoid paying the higher price for items quoted during construction / renovation busy seasons.
- Project scheduling
By booking your trades early, you’re more likely to schedule them when you want the work completed and with the specific company you want to work with. If you don’t book your trades months in advance, you run the risk of them being unavailable when you want them, or even available at all.
Knowing these risks if you don’t plan ahead, the conversation becomes about how to start proactively preparing your condo building’s projects.
Reserve Fund Study Considerations
The first place to start is to review your building’s Reserve Fund Study. This will inform you as to what work – often major – is required on your building and whether or not it’s feasible to do it at the specific moment. The Study should also outline what needs to be done and when (e.g. this year, in three years, ten years, etc.), along with estimated costs. Using this information, your board is able to better plan out the priority of the projects, helping to plan out the finances of your building based on projected costs. From there, you’re able to take these projections and determine how much needs to be collected from condo fees and put into the reserve fund to finance these projects.
The typical types of projects a Reserve Fund Study will highlight include roof repairs, window replacing, renovations to meet updated regulations, etc.
Yearly Maintenance and Care
In addition to the Study, your board should identify the general maintenance issues your building has that isn’t captured in the study. For instance, the yearly cyclical items that should be budgeted every year, such as snow removal contracts, landscaping contracts, or fire alarm systems. In budgeting for these items, we also suggest that you review the terms of the contract to ensure:
- Service is being upheld,
- All promised work is being completed, and
- Your contractor’s fees remain competitive.
Including these items into your yearly prep allows your board to gain a more thorough understanding of the costs associated with building upkeep and maintenance, along with ensuring that you receive the service you expect from your providers.
This will also help you coordinate specific services so the comfort of your condo’s residents will have minimal, if zero impact. For instance, maintenance on your furnace can be completed in the fall and not at the same time you’re having your windows replaced, often best to be completed in the summer. By doing this, the furnace will be in tip top shape for the cold months of winter, while residents don’t have to worry about their unit being cold as windows are being replaced.
Exterior Work Considerations
While not always possible, we strongly recommend completing external building work after the rainy season, particularly if the work will require heavy equipment sitting on your building’s landscaped areas. However, if exterior work must be completed during the rainy season, make sure your contractor puts down plywood to protect the area from being destroyed.
Get your board involved before the year is out! At your next meeting, begin reviewing what special projects and yearly maintenance is required for the year ahead and set yourself up for a more enjoyable year ahead!
If you’re curious about how to get your board involved in a proactive approach, start a conversation at Alberta Condo Owner’s for Change and see what insights the Alberta condo community can share!