Wintertime Maintenance Planning (for Summer Maintenance Needs)

It’s raining in the Willamette Valley today (and it has been for a week).  So it’s hard to think about those glorious, sunny days to come later in the year, but now is the time to start planning for just such a time.  Why?  Well, for many maintenance responsibilities, the best time to undertake them is when the weather is most conducive.  Sure, roofs can be replaced in the rain, but it’s not when most of us would recommend the work be done (unless, of course, there’s no other option because it’s raining inside your building!).  Likewise would you want your windows washed in the rain?  Probably not.  But now, in the midst of this wet weather, is the perfect time to plan for the association’s maintenance needs for the year.The governing documents for each association delineate items that are the responsibility of the association to maintain, repair and replace.  ORS 94.595 and ORS 100.175 require associations to obtain and annually update a reserve study, which is to include those items over the next 30 years (there are some caveats to this for very small condominiums or developments created before 1999).  Statute also requires a maintenance plan to be developed, which should work in conjunction with the reserve study to help an association plan for and undertake its maintenance obligations.  These are the best places to look when planning the maintenance strategy for next year.

Maintenance Plan.  At a minimum, the maintenance plan is to include a) descriptions of the maintenance to be conducted, b) include a schedule for the work to be done, c) be appropriate for the size and complexity required, and d) address issues including warranties and the useful life of the items (per statute).  The most practical format I’ve seen this in is a one page (for simple associations) calendar that shows what month each item should be undertaken in.  There are many other formats, but as long as it has the information it’s acceptable.  These are the first items that should go on the list of obtaining request for proposals (RFPs).

Reserve Study.  It’s also important to take a look at your reserve study to determine which larger projects need to be completed this calendar year.  This is not the time for the board to decide they do not want to take on a particular reserve item this year; if it’s on the reserve study for 2012, the board has an obligation to undertake it unless they receive compelling evidence that the work can reasonably be delayed (for example, two of the three painters who provide bids for the work tell you the current paint is still in fine shape; that might be an authentic reason for delaying another year or two, but then that change needs to be reflected in the updated reserve study).  Better yet, if the board thinks there are fallacies on its reserve study, the time to correct that is before it’s been accepted for the new year.  Take whatever reserve projects are listed as being accomplished this year and also put them on the list.

Other Maintenance Tasks.  There may be maintenance tasks that are not specifically called out in the governing documents but the board may consider undertaking for the greater good of the association.  The board should determine (and consult with their attorney, if there is any doubt) if there are such items and also include those on the list.  The board should also consider whether or not these “missing” items should be included in the maintenance plan or reserve study in future revisions.

Once the list is together of the maintenance needs for the year, written RFPs should be completed.  Remember, the more detailed and comprehensive, the easier it will be to determine if the bidders are providing “apples to apples” figures.  At a minimum, the RFP should include:

  • Name of the Association
  • Date the RFP is Sent
  • Physical Address of the Association (also consider including a map, if the community is large or confusing in any way)
  • Desired Timing of the Job (March, Summer, etc.)
  • Deadline for Returning the RFP
  • Contact Person for the RFP and Several Contact Methods (minimum two phone numbers or a phone number and an e-mail address)
  • Specifications (this should include things like the number of items or buildings, products desired to be used, etc.  Remember that the more detail you provide here, the easier it will be for the bidders to bid on the same job!)

Also be sure that as part of the RFP package, bidders provide their licenses and insurance.  Association’s don’t need to take on the liability of an under- or uninsured vendor working on their property.

I recommend that bidders be given at least two weeks (but not more than 30 days) to get their proposals turned in.  This gives the board plenty of opportunity to review the proposals at the next board meeting and if there are any questions or negotiations that need to be done, there is still plenty of time to undertake those before the work needs to be completed.

Now is the time to get prepared for the maintenance obligations for the year.  By taking the time to get everything ready and lined up now will allow the board to focus on more critical and time sensitive issues throughout the rest of the year.