3 common HOA maintenance stylesNothing bites into your budget like maintenance issues. Whether it’s the grounds keeping and upkeep that you pay for on a regular basis or those surprise projects (natural disasters, anyone?) that sneak up on you, maintenance can account for an average of 25% or more of your overall expenditures. 
Some boards opt to spend less, which is good – but they go about it the wrong way. Communities that defer essential maintenance may find that small problems become bigger ones later on, and that those repairs need to be accommodated through special assessments. Even worse, big jobs cost more, so saving pennies now may cost you real dollars later on down the road when the issue exacerbates. This often happens when a board hasn’t established a relationship with a reliable, forward-thinking property management company that knows how to keep important maintenance issues from being put on the back burner.
Most boards approach maintenance programs in one of three ways. Take a look at the different types below and see which one applies to you.

HOA maintenance style #1: Reactive maintenance

Most of you are probably saying “No, that doesn’t apply to me.” And that’s good. But more boards than you think are guilty of this kind of approach. And even the most proactive ones indulge in this kind of philosophy now and again. Of course, it’s not that there aren’t upsides – after all, you’ll probably save a lot of money. But only in the short term. The problem is that most parts of your community don’t have to be fully broken to require upkeep and maintenance, so when you allow them to fall into disrepair, it costs even more money to make them operational. Running your community this way is the same thing as never getting the oil changed in your car because you want to save money, then having to purchase an entire new engine.

HOA maintenance style #2: Preventive maintenance

This is a good approach, but it comes with a few hidden hazards to watch for. Typically, the autopilot types have created regular service schedules for the community’s essentials and engaged with reliable contractors who can complete the work on time and on budget. Looks like you’ve done everything you can, right? Well, not exactly. First of all, paying attention to only a select group of requirements and turning a blind eye to other possibilities could result in an unpleasant maintenance sneak attack. Secondly, boards that take the preventive maintenance approach often run into trouble when a new board takes over, because the new board may not carefully read the existing contracts and warranties, thereby unwittingly voiding them. Preventative maintenance may be an approach with the best of intentions, but good intentions are no substitute for thorough, diligent action. That said, if you take a comprehensive approach and ensure a smooth transition from board to board, preventive maintenance offers a responsible, balanced approach.

HOA maintenance style #3: Predictive maintenance

The most aspirational of the three options, predictive maintenance requires ongoing monitoring and inspections of all your buildings, facilities and equipment. This will enable you to see which elements are operating at optimum capacity, which ones may need attention down the road, and which ones require action right away. It positions you for financial stability and greater predictability, and best of all, allows you to think far enough ahead so that you can implement proactive money-savers such as green building practices or the use of more energy efficient equipment and materials. Needless to say, predictive maintenance is the style that serves communities best.
So now that you know the three maintenance approaches, your next question is: how do I get from where I am now to preventive or predictive maintenance? The best answer is through a reliable property management company. With knowledge of local inspectors and experts, along with deep experience in creating predictive maintenance schedules, these professionals can help engineer a proactive program that maximizes your savings and minimizes the unpleasant surprises.
For more information on what the right property management company can do for you, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.
Friday June 27, 2014