With budget season upon us, it’s important to think about upcoming projects for the next year. Does your community need to update the clubhouse? Spruce up the landscaping? Repair the pool? Now’s the time to jumpstart these projects! Join us below for some tips to streamline the process.
Brainstorm your goals.
First and foremost, identify the goals of your association. What projects are already on the association’s docket? Are there any pressing repairs that need to be done? Has the community provided feedback about a new amenity? When identifying your project goal, you can use the SMART method to determine if your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. It’s important to make sure that the association’s projects align with the goals you want to accomplish, otherwise you’ll be spending money for something your community doesn’t need or even want!
In conjunction with identifying your project goals, you should determine the urgency of potential projects. During this phase, you should prioritize the projects you want in order of how much your community needs them. What’s the most important project? Whether it be repairs, regular maintenance, landscaping, amenities, events, etc., it’s helpful to focus on one thing at a time, if possible.
Know the rules.
Review the association’s CC&Rs and local laws to check if there are any limitations or instructions regarding community projects. There may be certain county restrictions on structures or projects over a certain cost may require a community vote.
Plan and schedule.
Next, it’s important to develop a project plan and schedule. Be strategic in planning, identifying a central purpose for the project to help diminish delays and overspending. By homing in on a singular focus, the project will flow smoother and, ideally, quicker. Furthermore, it’s important to establish a reasonable timeline, revising as needed, but aiming to keep ahead of schedule. Starting preparations for the project as soon as possible is also helpful.
Whether you have an existing committee to help manage general projects or you decide to create a new one for a specific project, committees are a great resource for assisting with day-to-day operations and supporting the board in both planning and executing projects. By soliciting homeowners for committees, you can utilize expertise within the community and provide opportunities for homeowner involvement.
You should also assess resources the association already has and identify what the association will need. Also, allocating responsibilities among board members can help expedite the process. Another way to maintain efficiency is to gather needed documents early and have an emergency plan in case of disaster. Before beginning the project, you should assess potential hazards, develop standard procedures, keep data secure, etc.
Budget, budget, budget!
Next, it’s crucial to establish the budget. When creating the upcoming year’s budget, make sure to consider any upcoming projects, including repairs or replacements and capital improvements. If there aren’t any planned, include some leeway in case unexpected maintenance is needed. When budgeting for any projects, make sure to consider increasing supply and labor costs. Also, it’s important to conduct a reserve study periodically, ideally every 3-5 years.
Rely on professionals.
Your management company and attorney are there to help, so why not lean on their expertise! Your management company can provide significant professional and expert support to properly vet options, offering a solid network of verified vendors, financial support with risk management and insurance, management of documents and important information, and helpful tools and resources. Also, consult your attorney and management to decide if projects could, and should, be funded through reserves, assessments, or loans. For more information on financing HOA loans, visit our partners over at MintFish Premium Finance.
It’s important to ensure that you, and your vendors, have the necessary insurance coverage relevant to the project. By acquiring adequate insurance, or confirming that you have it already, your project will flow more smoothly, and your association is covered in case something unfortunate happens. For more information about HOA insurance, reach out to our partners at Blue Lime Insurance Group.
Solicit repudiable vendors.
When finding vendors to work on your project, start by identifying potential candidates. Look for good reviews, competitive rates, and their previous work. Then, create and solicit a request for proposal, or RFP, to determine the right vendor fit. This explains desired project for possible vendors and asks for how the vendor will deliver the service. The RFP should include contact information, project description and overview, budget, evaluation criteria, and desired proposal submission format.
Communication is key.
Keeping homeowners informed from the beginning of the project will foster a sense of transparency and a positive relationship between the association members and the board. Knowing your community’s wants and needs, including demographic, will allow the board to make informed decisions about what projects are best for the community, especially with homeowner input. By providing information about the project initially, whether through town hall meetings or eblasts, homeowners are able to know what’s going on in their community and feel looped in on the project. Additionally, incorporating homeowner involvement, if possible, will encourage a sense of community and can increase efficiency. It’s also important to communicate updates along the way.
Review the process.
Lastly, it’s important to review past projects to figure out how to improve the process for the future. Asking for homeowner feedback through surveys can help identify aspects of the project that worked or may not have worked. By considering the different perspectives of the board, management company, and homeowners, future projects can benefit from hindsight.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful, but every project and community are different. How to best streamline projects depends on the type of project, and ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your community. If you have any questions about managing projects in your HOA, please reach out to us at Spectrum today! Here at Spectrum, we want your association to succeed in all its endeavors.