By Traci R. Wade-Bradford / Published March 2016
Community association managers (CAMs) are responsible for ensuring the smooth and safe operation of a community association. Their responsibilities can run the gamut from finances to roof leaks and require a specialized set of skills and an eclectic body of knowledge covering a vast amount of issues. One issue that presents a challenge for CAMs is maintaining the exterior of their buildings and common areas. Truly managing the exterior of a community building includes preventative, ongoing, and emergency maintenance; as well as planning for future maintenance projects. Leland CAM, Traci Bradford, offers these tips to help CAMs identify problems and come up with proactive solutions regarding exterior maintenance.
As licensed CAMs, there is a responsibility to not only identify potential problems as it pertains to the maintenance of exterior buildings, but also to have a solution in place should such a problem show up on one’s doorstep. Most often when there is a maintenance issue, contractors are hired to perform the necessary work. Before submitting a request for proposal from potential vendors, research the issue and make sure the full scope of work is being requested. Once the contractor has been selected, go out in the field and observe what’s taking place. Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor questions, as you never know when that information can be used in future projects.
This industry identifies five different types of work as it pertains to overall maintenance. Three of these types: routine maintenance, preventative maintenance, and reserve placement, should be included in the association’s yearly budget. Some common examples of routine maintenance concerns are: water intrusion and wood rot. Water intrusion can be caused by leaky roofs, windows that are not properly installed or caulked, or problems with the buildings elevation. Finding ways to re-direct water away from buildings or re-caulking leaky areas are simple practices that can be put in place to prevent larger issues down the road. Wood rot is often behind the building’s exterior or in door frames and can be hard to spot. However, it can, and if left unrepaired at some point will, affect both the structural integrity of the building and the physical appearance of the exterior. Routine maintenance items, like checking railings for stabilization, rusted bolts, or areas in need of welding, can often shed light on larger issues.
It’s important that managers know the building of the communities they manage. It’s not always about what one can physically see with one’s eyes. Knowledge of the different system components within both the common and limited areas are of importance to us. Create an inspection check-off list tailored to your community. Plan inspections quarterly and try not to only focus on CC&R violations. Inspections are an opportunity to identify necessary repairs and/or potential problems. The findings from inspections will prompt you to generate needed work orders and assign them to be addressed by maintenance staff or seek an outside vendor. Equally as important as addressing the maintenance issue and completing the work is how the process is documented. A thorough documentation process shows due diligence on the association’s part.
Larger problems that are found should be brought before the board of directors prior to beginning work. Be sure to research as much as possible about the issue in order to give the board a clear description of the problem and the best solution. If the board feels that the project is not of importance at that time, document it in the association’s minutes and/or the manager’s report and possibly bring it up at a later time.
CAMs rely on reserve studies to provide them with the calculations of the life expectancies and replacement costs on line items like roofs. Be sure that every reserve item is properly funded and plan accordingly for the future. Depending on the type of association being managed, as well as the maintenance responsibility section of the documents, your association may be required to reserve a certain percentage for reserves. It is important to know the board’s position as it pertains to reserves. It may be time for a new roof, the reserves may be fully funded, but the board may decide to complete repairs on an as-needed basis. If you see signs of a potentially dangerous problem, you should communicate this to your board with a sense of urgency.
The license and designations that we hold as managers come with a certain level of responsibility and accountability. Little problems, when not addressed in time, become big problems. Through education, inspections, working relationships with reliable vendors, and proper planning, there’s no reason why we can’t solve any problem!
Traci R. Wade-Bradford
Community Association Manager of Villanova At Hunters Creek
Traci R. Wade-Bradford is a licensed community association manager. She currently has eight years of experience and is the active manager of Villanova at Hunters Creek in Orlando, FL. In 2014, she was chosen among the Top 10 On-site Managers in the Nation by the Council of Community Association Professionals. Wade-Bradford has also been named a Community Manager of Excellence by CAI. She is also actively involved in the community as an organizer of the annual Fall into Fabulous event in Orlando. She has worked for Leland Management for five years.