11 Maintenance Questions to Ask Your HOA Management Company

Posted on Wednesday May 30, 2018

Click here to get your free guide, 11 Questions to Assess the Health of Your HOA Maintenance Plan.

At this point, you probably have a good idea what the three most common HOA maintenance styles are and what a solid preventative maintenance plan looks like. But how can you make sure your Arizona HOA management company has the same priorities as you and your association? It might be time for a chat.

To get the conversation started, we’ve created a helpful guide that you can download and bring to your next meeting. Complete the form below to download a complimentary guide, 11 Questions to Assess the Health of Your HOA Maintenance Plan

Read below to learn more about the questions you should ask your management company (or prospective management company) to help determine their maintenance priorities:

1.  Do we have a preventative maintenance program?

Start with this fundamental question. Does your management company even have a preventative maintenance program? If the answer is no (or you’re not sure), it’s time to have an in-depth conversation with your management company and ensure that you establish one. Whether they have one or not, ask additional questions to gauge how robust and thorough the program is. 

2.  Is our preventative management program documented?

Get it in writing. You may think you have a preventative maintenance program if your HOA management company says so. However, if nothing is documented, you likely don’t have a formal policy in place. A documented plan is crucial for ensuring that everyone is on the same page in terms of your community’s goals and future maintenance schedule. You may not always have the same community manager or board of directors, so it’s vital that you have a written policy that provides direction for the future of your community.

3.  Does our reserve study complement our preventative maintenance program?

First things first, a reserve study is not the same thing as a preventative maintenance program, so don’t get the two confused. But the two should align with each other, and the reserve study should be taken into account when planning preventative maintenance. Rodney Riepenhoff, corporate engineer at FirstService Residential said, “Reviewing an association’s reserve study annually helps us ensure that a community’s preventative maintenance program matches equipment life expectancies.” He added, “A timely review of the reserve study allows us to help associations mitigate surprise costs and save money.”

4.  Have you had an engineering specialist or professional evaluate our equipment and facilities?

While it can be tempting to utilize the expertise of a board member with some working knowledge of engineering, you need to have a dedicated engineering professional assess your facilities and equipment. Having an experienced engineer’s insight often leads to better informed solutions and even cost savings. 

For one high-rise managed by FirstService Residential, working with an engineering specialist led to significant cost savings. The 228-unit high-rise had experienced water drainage issues coming from the pool and surrounding area, which resulted in numerous leaks into the parking lot below. Prior to FirstService Residential, the association received a $400,000 estimate to fix the problem and had limited funds to invest in the solution. FirstService Residential brought in Riepenhoff to determine the cause of the water drainage issues. He immediately discovered the cause of the problem and provided a more efficient and cost-effective resolution that was $280,000 less than the original solution.

He immediately discovered the cause of the problem and provided a more efficient and cost-effective resolution that was $280,000 less than the original solution.

5.  What testing methods do you use to assess our equipment’s condition?

Your engineering specialist should apply various testing methods to ensure that your facilities and equipment are working properly. For example, vibration analysis measures the vibration of moving parts in machines to help you anticipate failures. The information provided from vibration testing can help you determine the condition of equipment like pumps and motors and diagnose mechanical problems, such as imbalance, misalignment, looseness, worn bearings, strain and resonance. Other examples of testing methods include thermal imaging, plumbing stack inspection, sound testing, laser shaft alignment, trends analysis and oil sampling and analysis. 

Examples of testing methods include thermal imaging, plumbing stack inspection, sound testing, laser shaft alignment, trends analysis and oil sampling and analysis.

6.  How often are facilities and equipment inspected?

The frequency of your maintenance schedule depends on the size and scope of your facilities and equipment. Your HOA community management company should first evaluate all of your components in a quality assurance assessment or full inspection done by an engineering specialist. Once they determine a baseline after the first 30 days, they will be able to outline how often maintenance should take place to keep equipment and facilities in outstanding shape. This schedule should also be in line with your reserve study. If your reserve study estimated timelines do not match up to your preventative maintenance program, there’s a good chance your program is outdated. Your maintenance schedule should also remain fluid so that it can accommodate variables, like unexpected emergencies or extreme weather.  

7.  How do you monitor and extend the useful life of our equipment? 

As we mentioned in our article, “Maintenance, Capital Improvements, Useful Life: Is Your HOA Prepared?” manufacturers determine the useful life of a component or piece of equipment. But there are many factors that can cause a component’s useful life to be either reduced or extended. It’s important to ask your management company this question to determine whether they truly follow a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and what steps they take to improve upon a component’s useful life. They should be taking steps to extend useful life by prioritizing detailed and high-tech testing (per above guidelines), investing in ongoing maintenance and replacing parts with more efficient or higher-quality materials.

8.  What types of vendors do you work with?

Your management company should work with preferred, well-vetted vendors and obtain multiple quotes so that they can negotiate the best price on your association’s behalf. Having a large network of local and national support and extensive experience in the market helps them build relationships with trusted vendors. A great management company will then work with these vendors to obtain cost-effective solutions that provide the best quality, with your association’s best interest in mind.  

9.  What kind of technology do you utilize to track maintenance projects? 

Your community management company should use a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or digital tracking system to automate all of your schedule’s processes and monitor maintenance projects as needed. When adopting a CMMS, make sure your management company takes into account the number of users needed, the location where the application will be hosted, whether your techs can access the CMMS via mobile and if it tracks items like work requests, scheduled maintenance and inventory.

10.  How do you handle unexpected maintenance issues when they arise?

No matter how well prepared you are, emergencies and natural disasters happen. A great HOA management services company will have procedures in place that clearly define how they respond to unexpected maintenance and emergency issues. Examples of these procedures include documented staff training, equipment preparation, exit strategy and emergency protocol review. Make sure that your management company is equipped with the knowledge and resources to handle an unforeseen emergency. 

11.  Do our maintenance projects require the guidance of a project manager or assistant project manager?

Some associations need to take on larger maintenance or improvement projects in order to establish or maintain the quality of their equipment and facilities. For more in-depth maintenance projects, your HOA may require assistance from a project manager or assistant project manager. An experienced management company will offer project consulting services, including assistance with establishing the budget, guidance during the bidding process and other important tasks. 

What’s your management company’s maintenance style?

These 11 questions can help you discover your management company’s approach to maintenance and make sure they are aligned with your association’s priorities. Ultimately, managing maintenance takes a qualified team of experts who have your association’s future success and best interest at heart.

Ready to have a conversation? Complete the form below to download a complimentary guide to take to your next meeting: 11 Questions to Assess the Health of Your HOA Maintenance Plan