As brutal as Minnesota winters can be, you certainly don't want to discover an ice dam or leak in your roof during a heavy snowfall or have a boiler stop working during a record cold spell. Unfortunately, these crises occur all too frequently because many associations neglect to develop or follow an integrated maintenance plan.
Amendment changes to the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA) required all communities to develop and adopt maintenance plans by January 2019. The board of directors for these communities are responsible for preparing and approving a written preventative maintenance plan, maintenance schedule, and maintenance budget for the common elements. FirstService Residential took several actions to ensure the clients and communities we serve developed an effective strategy.
"It takes more than just developing a maintenance and repair plan," says Mark Gittleman, president at FirstService Residential." The board needs to adequately fund it and work with its property management company to ensure the plan is followed."

 Peter Ralph, director of maintenance at Gittleman Construction and Maintenance, an affiliate of FirstService Residential, says that lack of funds is a common reason for Minnesota community associations to defer maintenance until major work is needed. "Ironically, reactive maintenance is about three to nine times more expensive in the long run than a proactive approach," he explains. "So it's much more cost-effective to be proactive even if that means investing a bit of time and money upfront. Ultimately, it will relieve a lot of headaches for your board and save money for your association."

Having an integrated plan is the key to proactively addressing your property's maintenance needs. As we approach the New Year it is a great time to review your association’s maintenance plan to ensure everything is up to date. Haven’t written a plan yet? Here are 4 tips to help you review or start yours today.

1. Collect all your maintenance-related information. 
For most community associations, maintenance information is scattered among a variety of documents. The first step is to locate and consolidate it, including:

  • Your association's maintenance plan as required by the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA)
  • Service schedules for specific components of the maintenance plan
  • Expected costs and timeframes for replacing equipment or making major repairs to components, outlined in your reserve study and capital replacement plan
  • The plan should incorporate maintenance recommendations in owner manuals and requirements to keep warranties valid

2. Establish which common elements require ongoing maintenance. 

Make a list of the equipment and components to include in your maintenance plan. Start by looking at your governing documents, reserve study, and vendor/maintenance contracts, and consider hiring a third-party to put your plan together. Hiring a third-party, typically, a reserve study professional provides a fresh set of eyes on the property and offers impartial advice.

3. If you have an onsite engineer or maintenance manager, take daily readings and make weekly inspections. 

"Walking the property and taking daily readings gives your engineer or maintenance manager an in-depth familiarity with equipment," explains Ralph. "They are, therefore, likely to notice subtle changes – smells, sounds, vibrations, or temperature changes – that someone else might overlook if they're not familiar with the equipment."

4. Enlist the help of experienced professionals.

A proactive property management company can offer a wealth of information and be able to help create your integrated maintenance plan.
With a solid preventative maintenance plan in place, your board needn't worry when temperatures plummet. The proactive approach we take at FirstService Residential gives clients the peace of mind in knowing their property is protected until the lakes thaw again in the spring.

Thursday December 19, 2019