What’s the best % to budget for emergency maintenance?

Recently, a lot of our client’s have asked us about planning emergency maintenance budget’s and were curious on how to better stretch their HOA dollar’s. We will gladly tackle this question, because it’s important for property manager’s, maintenance divisions, and homeowner’s. Our definition of a emergency maintenance budget:  Item’s, which typically are not a concern or an ongoing issue for an individual, organization. This budget would help you fix emergency leaking, falling siding, etc.

For Condominiums/townhouses

Checklist items to have access to:

  • Running inventory of the age of exterior products (siding, windows, roofing, etc)
  • List of recent renovations & their contractor’s (along with warranties)
  • Yearly HOA receivables & yearly vendor bills (lawn care, tree’s, garbage).

These item’s will represent what must be completed every year to maintain your complex as is and now you see the product’s that are on the “best side” of a worst to best condition list. So now your board can focus a larger  % of receivables on the “worst side” such as those $25,000 + renovation project’s. Yet, where does this leave the maintenance budget? Our rule of thumb is 5% (low-end) to 15% (high-end) should be planned for emergency repairs or an escrow account. We understand not all repairs are the responsiblity of a property management company and might be the homeowners, but this doesn’t mean the funds will be wasted. A number of management companies we know will apply any unused fund to those larger renovation project’s or leave in an escrow account in case of an insurance claim (deductible)

The problem we found with condominium’s and committee board’s is the number of individual’s involved. A lot of the “wish list” renovation’s are decided by vote from designated committee members, which does speed up renovations. However if it’s possible, we recommend gathering insight from the on-site maintenance person or previous vendor’s during your review. We don’t suggest taking their vote as part of the decision (Constitutional bylaws), but take their advice with merit. These serviceman generally know your complexes extremely well and they’ll be honest to you, because there’s always problems throughout the complex. The input of the vendors/serviceman may shift your committee’s desire to replace that wood siding instead of installing a new pond liner.

The best part of having a 5 to 15% safety net you can afford an expert or reputable companies. Often organization’s will be tight on their budget, which lead’s them to hiring the unqualified contractor for 1/2 the cost of the local vendor. We understand every governing community is different in what’s important to them, but it will never hurt you to have 5 to 15% planned yearly.

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Homeowner’s

If you’re a homeowner then consider asking your “jack of all trades” neighbor, a licensed contractor, or call a licensed home inspector. Start these discussion’s off with “what item’s do you believe are my worst to best?”

Cost of these services:

  • Neighbor – Case of beer or a favor
  • Home Inspector – A scale fee based on how many items are reviewed
  • Contractor – Cost of your time (Often Free Estimates)

 

The amount we advise budgeting for a family or property owner is 2 to 5% of the property value. This recommended number is far less than townhouse/condo complexes (5 to 15%) due to their sheer size and # of issues. It’s far more common for condominium board’s to spend $100,000 on lawn maintenance than a homeowner to spend the equivalent. In addition, homeowners are not paying HOA fees and they have complete control over the repairs/vendors. The biggest reason this 2 to 5% is key, because A LOT of insurance providers are changing their policy holders to deductibles of 1 to 3% of their property value, which puts you in the driver seat of the ultimate emergency. We advise applying the unused amount in an insurance deductible escrow account or transfer it to your next big home remodel (HVAC, roofing, windows, etc.)

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