When it comes to figuring out which community projects to tackle, association management is a balancing act between invisible infrastructure repairs and maintaining curb appeal to attract new homeowners and keep current homeowners satisfied.
The best way to handle this balancing act is to treat running your association like the business that it is. In order to operate smoothly, you must budget properly, employ strategic planning, and define and prioritize the most important projects.
Below are some tips designed to help boards budget, plan, and prioritize their association’s upcoming projects:
Determine how financially stable your association is by auditing the budget for expenses versus income.
If your HOA is less financially stable than it should be, your association may have to tighten its belt for a time and forego aesthetic concerns to make sure the HOA infrastructure is in working order.
In this instance, remember it’s possible to ask either homeowners or high schoolers to volunteer for any aesthetic upgrades you need made during a tough time.
What if you’ve audited the budget and are still unsure how to determine the quality of your infrastructure, or how to prioritize projects beyond that?
The best route to take, especially if there are no emergency repair situations, is to make sure your reserve study is up-to-date.
Conducting regular reserve studies enables the association to anticipate large costs. Update your reserve study every five years, and make sure it always includes a one, five, ten, and twenty-year analysis of all infrastructures. This way, the board always has a clear understanding of the financial task ahead of them, and will be able to plan accordingly. For more information on this important topic, check out the articles, “Reserve Studies: What Are They, and Why Are They So Important?” and “Reserve Funds: How Much Does Your HOA Need?” on Spectrum’s blog.
Make sure the association is fully protected from unexpected events.
In times of economic stress, it can be tempting to reduce the amount of insurance your HOA carries. However, reducing coverage or failing to maintain adequate coverage poses the serious risk of taking a bad situation and turning it into a terrible one, as insurance is an association’s best line of defense against costly HOA projects.
When it comes time to plan out your projects, remember that safety always comes first!
This includes any items that might lead to physical injury. An example is if there are any walkways so dilapidated that walking poses serious risk of injury. Once the board is satisfied that there are no undue risks of physical injury on HOA property, it’s essential you turn to the infrastructure.
Make sure both water lines and all electrical is in proper working order.
As a bonus, making sure your water lines are working properly, and that there are no leaks, can bring down your water bills.
Assess the quality of any roofs on association property.
Roofs can be one of the largest expenses an association faces. While it can be tempting to put off a roof repair for as long as possible, relegating roof upgrades to simple patchwork repair can cause more headaches in the long run. If a roof fails, the association is likely going to face repairs that go far beyond a new roof.
Figuring out the most important projects to tackle first can feel overwhelming to any board member. The most important thing to keep in mind is to determine what is most likely to cause the association the most money in the long run if not taken care of in an expedient manner. Following the tips above will help you determine the largest costs.
As a board member, it’s important that you be well aware of the pending or possible future needs of the community. By addressing projects in advance, you will be better able to efficiently handle whatever arises. For board members seeking additional assistance in managing their HOA community, contact Spectrum Association Management today. Our experienced team can take care of the heavy lifting and provide refreshingly different services for your community association.