Conducting SIRS: What We’ve Learned So Far

Conducting SIRS

What We’ve Learned So Far

By Matt Kuisle, PE, PRA, RS / Published June 2024

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With any new product or service, whether it’s figuring out your new smart TV or how the heck to put together an IKEA dresser, there is a learning curve. When structural integrity reserve studies (SIRS) were introduced by legislation in May 2022, reserve study providers already had foundational knowledge of the service as it is an extension of how a traditional reserve study looks and operates. However, because of the new, legal emphasis on structural components, providers had to adapt.

     “There was a learning curve, absolutely,” said Tamara Samhouri, a Tampa-based engineer. “Our first SIRS looks very different from the most recent SIRS we’ve prepared. As time went on, we learned what we wanted and didn’t want to include. We, as a company, also solidified a standard for these studies after producing more SIRS; talking to attorneys, legislators, and the state agencies; listening to our clients; and receiving feedback from our clients’ attorneys.”

     For providers the inspection process and the components included are very similar to a traditional reserve study, though both the inspection and report production take a bit more time due to the mandated emphasis on structural

     In March 2024, with enough data under our belts, we took a comprehensive look at the detailed financial implications of SIRS funding requirements on associations. On average, associations are seeing a one-time 108 percent increase in their reserve contributions, up from $238,000 in 2023 to $495,000 in 2024. This number can feel extreme, and the requirement to achieve this recommended funding level, especially for previously underfunded communities, is proving

     When we break it down further, individual unit owners are seeing an average monthly increase of roughly $154. This is not to say all associations will see this large a number, as the range is wide—36 percent of sampled associations saw an increase of $100 or less per unit owner per month. Interestingly, associations whose buildings are fewer stories but are home to more residents are seeing smaller monthly increases per unit owner on average.

     While it may not appear so, for many communities this initial burden can be a future blessing. “I was reviewing an association’s financials and noticing that many associations had never reserved before. Some of these were older properties that had never even considered reserve funds, and their buildings were exhibiting areas of concern,” said Samhouri. “This mandate is helping clients have a schedule in place, so they can do the projects they need to do. This is a positive result, especially for clients who have preferred to rely on special assessments, which put a lot of pressure on the unit owners all at once. This helps people plan, and it’s had a really positive impact.”

     The requirement to fund structural components, though it can be challenging to catch up on, is underscored by the fact that on average 65 percent of future reserve funds will be allocated to structural components alone, with the additional 35 percent going to nonstructural needs. While nonstructural components—such as elevators, HVAC, and paving—are not legally required to be included in a SIRS, it’s important to remember that 35 percent is not an insignificant percentage, and these are not insignificant components. Associations should ask their provider if and how they incorporate nonstructural components, as some firms may offer SIRS at the baseline level and cover only the statutory list of structural components while other firms include all reserve components. For example, a SIRS conducted by Reserve Advisors includes all reserve components in the report separated into structural and nonstructural funding plans.

     Above all, we’ve learned that communities need ongoing support. Board members do not simply need a one-and-done SIRS report they can follow to achieve compliance—they need their provider to be their partner. SIRS providers should work closely and communicate  well with the boards they serve, ensuring the funding recommendations are fully understood and making room to provide education and help explore any funding options that may ease the initial financial burden.

     “There is a lot more client interaction, especially once we submit the studies, than we have ever seen before because this is so new to them,” said Samhouri. “Clients have never seen a SIRS before; so even if it’s my 30th SIRS, it’s their first. For every SIRS client, there is a post-study interaction to explain the report.”

     Providers should also understand who they are serving and what they need from the service, making sure to address any questions or concerns with management and the board before the process begins and treating them as partners as the process ensues. Ongoing support, above anything else, is what we’ve learned to be SIRS’ most crucial component.

     “The most positive thing is how much knowledge we’ve been able to give clients,” said Samhouri. “A lot of times I give them information and it’s something they’ve never heard of or even considered, so ultimately associations just need empowerment and support through this process.”

Matt Kuisle, P.E., RS, PRA

Regional Executive Director, Reserve Advisors

     Matt Kuisle, P.E., RS, PRA, is the regional executive director for Reserve Advisors, leading the firm’s operations in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Matt has been conducting reserve studies for 23 years and is a frequent speaker and author. He is a licensed continuing education provider for FL CAMs and serves on the Community Associations Institute National Business Partner Council and as a council member with the Florida Legislative Alliance. Reserve Advisors is a leading provider of reserve study consulting services, having conducted reserve studies for more than 3,000 Florida communities. For more information, call 800-980-9881 or visit