In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As an HOA, this quote should be considered a pure example of what can happen in the event that an HOA fails to prepare itself. No homeowner enjoys having to hear the sounds of loud construction, or even worse a large maintenance drawback. Whether an occurrence be bad or good, the board, managers and their management company should always be prepared for any situation that may come their way. Key question —how does the HOA prepare themselves? To simply answer this question, an HOA must create and be prepared to execute a community maintenance plan.
What is a maintenance plan?
An HOA maintenance plan works as a guide to the HOA when maintenance is needed. Responsibilities include: planning schedules, hiring workers and contractors, ordering parts, providing instructions and much more.
- Helps minimize expenses
- Contributes to projecting repairs and replacements
- Saves time and money
- Provides a sense of safety and security to the community
- Maintains property value and financial stability
Why does your HOA need a maintenance plan?
- Reactive approach - For HOAs that do not utilize a maintenance plan, often find themselves taking more of a reactive approach — this is common for many financially-strapped associations. When taking a reactive approach, an HOA will hold repairs until it’s absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, when exercising this approach, the HOA will often find themselves in a financial burden. In fact, “reactive maintenance tends to cost 9 to 10 times more than preventive maintenance.”
- Increases property value - The more maintenance an HOA puts into its community, the more value it’ll bring. In addition, this also helps attract new homeowners to the community.
- Keeps residents happy – If you’re paying to live in an HOA, you would expect that everything works and is in proper condition – this includes the maintenance of your HOAs common areas and facilities.
Who manages the maintenance plan?
Although community volunteers or committee members can partake in helping plan a maintenance plan, the board of directors and management company should oversee the plan in all cases.
5 Maintenance Plans For Your Community
1. Preventative maintenance plan
A large focus of this plan is to prevent damages and repairs down the road – the more repairs that are addressed, the less likely the HOA will experience major problems.
Benefits: A preventative maintenance plan, allows the HOA to spend less money on smaller repairs as opposed to repairing something when it’s absolutely necessary or all at once.
- Maintenance is often exercised on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
Example: Third-party pool maintenance
- Cleaning gutters
- Testing water levels
- Replacing filters
- Ensures the pool is functioning at its best
- Less money is spent on having to make repairs due to neglect
- Allows more time for homeowners to take advantage of the benefits that come from having a community pool.
2. Seasonal plans
The sole purpose of a seasonal plan is to help the HOA stay up-to-date with all its standard seasonal maintenance regulations. Whether the HOA decides to classify their seasonal plan under a preventive or comprehensive plan, the HOA must take consideration of the overall benefit.
Benefits: Seasonal plans provide communities with a sense of safety and engagement.
- Provides communities with proactive methods to prevent further harm from natural disasters.
- Seasonal plans can be specific to a particular season and are often exercised in a particular way.
- Prepare an evacuation plan that provides detailed routes and shelters.
- Prepare a response plan for when the hurricane has passed. This includes a plan to manage damages, debris and electrical issues.
- Encourage residents to never drive, walk or swim through floodwaters. Risk can include: drowning or walking into contaminated water.
- Provide waterproof containers for residents to put essential items and documents in.
- Provide community members with training on how to prepare for a tornado.
- Create a detailed evacuation plan in the event that a tornado occurs.
- Encourage residents to stay indoors — do not drive in hazardous conditions.
- Prepare a guide on using generators and electronic devices — this will help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- In the event that a fire occurs in a common area or resident home, provide a detailed evacuation plan and safe spot for members to go.
- Prepare emergency kits in the event someone is hurt or injured.
3. Deferred maintenance plan
When creating a deferred maintenance plan, an HOA will often experience a drawback in maintenance repairs due to financial restraint. For most HOAs this is not the ideal plan —in fact, a deferred plan can cause more harm than good.
Benefits: Although the benefits are limited, an HOA may utilize this plan if they find themselves in a last resort situation.
- Only refer to this plan for non-essential tasks that could be put off if necessary.
- Do not utilize this plan for components that are necessary to the HOA to live and rely on.
- Be cautious to not incorporate maintenance that could cause harm or be a health hazard to a community — this includes any risk that could be put on property value or insurance.
4. Condition based maintenance plan
Also known as a predictive plan, a condition based plan takes on a lot of the same responsibilities as a preventative plan — it focuses on looking ahead vs. in the moment. One key component of this plan is to monitor components that may give warning signs that a function or machine may soon fail.
- Detects minor problems that can be addressed before failing to function.
- Saves time and money.
Example: Roof repairs
- Checking tiles
- Checking for signs of seasonal damage
- Remove debris
- Cleaning gutters
- Checking for mold build-up
- Can help avoid severe water damage
- Prevents major leaking or damage to large barriers
- Saves time and money
5. Emergency maintenance plan
Emergency plans are essential to an HOA — they contribute a large part in keeping the community safe. With this type of plan, an HOA will take immediate action in times of high distress — this plan often takes precedence over all other plans.
How to prepare an emergency plan
- Before creating an emergency plan, it’s recommended that the HOA prepare a disaster plan.
- When preparing an emergency plan, an HOA may utilize their reserve funds — this “focuses on preparation and security. This also provides ample funds necessary for costly projects within an HOA.”
Typical uses of the reserve fund may include:
- Repairing structural issues within the community such as: landscaping, roofing, or construction
- Remodeling of amenities or properties
Emergency failures: An emergency plan can also anticipate an emergency failure that may occur during times of a major disaster. As stated previously, this is why creating a disaster plan is essential to creating a successful emergency plan. Examples of an emergency plan may include:
- Roof collapse
- A large fire
- Seasonal occurrences: tornados, hurricanes, or severe wind damage
By ensuring that your HOA has an up-to-date maintenance plane will help keep your community prepared and ready for any maintenance issues that might arise.