By Mariann Gerwig, CFO, CGC, HI, CFCAM / Published August 2021
Getting organized and knowing where to start planning for a major project of any kind is overwhelming. However, planning is the most important part to having a successful outcome.
Associations can follow steps to create a manageable situation for any major project. The best projects I have experienced are when members of the association volunteer to support the board regarding certain tasks. It is critical for all members of the association to remember the board still has to address the day-to-day operations, in addition to the added requirements of the project.
The most common mistake is setting a budget before finding out what the actual costs of the project will be. If this is done, often contractors are hired that fit the project within a budget and they usually turn out to be less experienced.
Many professionals will visit your property, meet with you, go over the scope of work you want to have done, and be able to give you a proposal that includes a detailed scope of the work that is included. It is always recommended that you meet with three contractors who have proper insurance coverage and references. You can check the contractors on the state website Department of Business and Professional Regulation at www.myfloridalicense.com to see if any complaints have been filed against them.
If your project requires structural repairs, a structural engineer should be consulted first. Based on the findings and past experience, the structural engineer will be able to give you an estimate of what kind of budget you should plan for. He or she will also make sure that only experienced contractors are invited to bid on the work. However, you should also interview a few engineers before making your selection.
Normally, when the Florida Community Association Journal invites contributing writers to submit articles, we tend to focus on the area of work that we are experts in. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out things that should be done for all projects that require any type of professional or contractor to be hired. Ethical contractors do not like it when they are hired to correct work that the association already paid a company to do but which the original contractor failed to do properly. The following is a short list of what we strongly suggest you do no matter how small or large a project may be:
Meet with the company representative (the owner if possible). Verify their references, but not just only the ones included in their company resume (none of us put a bad reference in our resume when we are applying for a job).
Most counties allow you to search Official Records on their County Clerk’s website. You can find information on Notice of Commencements (NOC), which may tell you about projects not included in the contractor’s references. It could simply be because the project was finished several years ago, but if not, you may want to contact the project for a reference.
Ask about their safety procedures and workers’ compensation claims. If they are not going to protect their own workforce, that tells you a lot.
If a large percentage (or any) down payment is requested, question the reason. Many will say it is for material deposits, which could cause you to question their credit. You could also offer to make a joint check to the material vendor if that is truly what it is for.
Find out about what kind of warranty the contractor offers.
Even if you do not wish to get a payment and performance bond, find out if the contractor can supply a letter from a bonding agent proving that they can get one if required.
Confirm that all of their employees work for the company and are not day labor.
Trust me, many of the things I have mentioned here are not going to make me popular with the contractors that cannot stand up to this kind of scrutiny. I am happy to say that there are many contractors in our area that are highly qualified. However, you could be a possible client of ours in the future, so we want you to have as much knowledge as possible to protect yourself no matter who you hire.
Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, and CFCAM
Promar Building Services
Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, and CFCAM, is with Promar Building Services LLC (CGC 060027). You can contact her at Mgerwig@Promar Building.com or learn more about the company by visiting www.PromarBuilding.com.
Professional Growth Through Learning
FCAP (Florida Community Association Professionals) is a member-based professional organization dedicated to training, equipping and advocating for Florida community association professionals including managers, service providers and community volunteer leaders.