Where Do You Start Once You Realize the Need For A Concrete Restoration Project?
By Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, CFCAM / Published January 2020
Even when an association’s board of directors decides that annual maintenance is critical and takes action to maintain the community, this does not always avoid a major restoration project. Since a project like this can feel like a daunting task to many people, there is a temptation to put it off, but taking that approach and delaying the project will only give the damage time to become more extensive and more expensive.
However, if the board of directors follows certain simple steps, then it can create a more manageable situation for the board to make the best decisions for the association.
The most common mistake is setting a budget before the actual structural damage is assessed by a professional. This can be accomplished by hiring a professional structural engineer who has extensive experience in structural concrete restoration in south Florida. It is recommended that the board meet with three engineers to make sure they will be available for progress inspections on a timely basis as well as be able to regularly schedule project meetings.
The engineer should be able to provide you with a sample contract that clearly states their responsibilities and how they will charge for their services. Once the engineer is selected, he can perform an inspection and compile a list of the type and quantity of repairs that are needed.
After the engineer completes his report, a budget can be calculated from the engineer’s estimated repair quantities, which should include a contingency for additional quantities that cannot be visually seen. The board needs to decide how to fund the project. This can be done using reserve funds, a special assessment, a credit line, or a combination of these.
If the association needs to apply for a credit line to fund the project, this is the time to start talking to banks regarding this. This will allow all necessary requirements of the association to be completed and not delay the start of the project.
The engineer can suggest experienced contractors and provide them a standardized bid form. The board can also suggest that contractors be invited to bid who have been recommended by other boards. It is important that the engineer hold a pre-bid meeting with the contractors invited to bid. This ensures that the contractors are aware of any special conditions of the building and any requirements that the board may have regarding how the work will be sequenced and on-site locations that the contractor will be able to use as their staging area.
The engineer will receive the bids from the contractors and present a spreadsheet comparing all the contractor bids to the board for consideration. The board should interview their top three potential contractors. You will be working with this company daily for several months and must know that you can have an effective relationship with the owners and key people you will be dealing with.
The board should check references of similar projects each contractor has finished. Make sure that all insurance and licensing is up to date. The license can be checked with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to see if there are any complaints filed against the contractor.
Once you have selected your contractor, the next step is executing the contract. Lump sum contracts are not normal for restoration projects since quantities are not fixed. These contracts are normally done on a unit price basis. However, this protects you by making sure you only pay for actual quantities of repairs that are completed. Billing is submitted based on completed work. The engineer approves and verifies that the quantities are correct, and this also protects the association from ever overpaying the contractor. Billing is normally done monthly, unless it is otherwise agreed in advance.
At this point, the final contract can be presented to the board for review. The contract form that is normally used is one that has been become standard over the years. Association and contractor attorneys have spent many years negotiating a standard contract for this type of project. The industry standard AIA Contract form does not work very well for this type of work and usually costs both the association and contractor much more in legal fees using those contract forms. The bulk of the contract gets deleted, addenda must be added, and the general conditions are normally included in the engineer’s specifications and project manual. A normal contract for this type of work usually includes the following:
Engineer’s specifications and project manual
The accepted contractor’s bid
Certificates of Insurance
Sample draw schedule
Preliminary project schedule
It is recommended that a project meeting be held on a regular basis with the board, engineer, and contractor. The engineer usually takes notes at these meetings and submits copies to all attendees. If anything unexpected is discovered, it should be brought to all parties immediately.
However, the project supervisor for the contractor should meet with the building manager or other board-appointed representative regularly. Communication and information are key to help the board’s representative keep the unit owners informed. This gives unit owners information, so they can know in advance when work will be affecting the areas around their unit.
If additional work that is not included in the contract is requested, a change order will be submitted and once approved will become part of the contract. Change orders will also be issued if there is any time delay for weather or any interference that is out of the contractor’s control.
It is also critical that all association members and employees are aware that once a permit is issued to the contractor, the entire project area is considered a “construction site” and needs to be treated as such for the safety of everybody involved. No matter how many signs as warnings are in place on a job site, after a while people stop noticing them, which can put them in dangerous situations.
In closing, it is very important that unit owners know that they should bring any questions or concerns directly to the association and/or building manager. It should be very clear that they do not discuss issues directly with the work crew.
Networking with other associations can also give you great insight into what they learned during their projects and what they might do differently now that their project is completed.
Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, CFCAM is with Promar Building Services LLC CGC 060027(formerly Promar Painting and Waterproofing LLC, same company we just wanted to update our name to reflect that the services we offer are not limited to only painting and waterproofing). You can contact her at Mgerwig@PromarBuilding.com or learn more about the company by visiting www.PromarBuilding.com.
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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.