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3 Imperative Building Updates To Avoid Special Assessments in South Florida

Few things bring out the torches and pitchforks for community association Board Members like Special Assessments.

Nevertheless, as Robert Frost said, “Nothing gold can stay.” Every community association across South Florida is going to have restorations, repairs or replacements needed on one aspect or another (with a well-prepared Board, you shouldn’t need everything all the time).

As part of the due diligence of condo associations and HOAs, especially as election season is upon us and Boards are changing their makeup, a running list of all necessary building maintenance should be a top priority. But how do you know what is most imperative and what can wait a few years?

Simply knowing how old certain structures, appliances, or building equipment are and planning for the inevitable wear and tear is the first step. But here are a few of the most essential building updates and a general timeframe to follow.

1. Roof

At the top (figuratively and literally) of the list are roofs. It’s often the component of a building that is the last thing on most community association’s board members’ minds, but it’s also the one aspect that – if there is an issue – you really have no option but to pay whatever it takes to get the issue fixed.

The first step is knowing the type of roof on your building and the year it was last replaced. Each roofing material has a different projected lifespan, and knowing how many years can be expected before you need to replace it is essential to make sure you don’t have to use emergency funds for quick, and often expensive, stop-gap repairs.

Plan on preventative measures for roof replacement as you don’t want to wait until water is leaking into residents’ units to replace the roof. And consider both cost and lifespan in your new roof. Planning a roof replacement into the budget for a few years before you need it is fantastic stewardship and keeps your options open when the inevitable time comes to replace your building’s roof.

2. HVAC

Heating and cooling systems can last anywhere from 15 to 25+ years, depending on maintenance. Again, knowing what type of system and how well it was maintained will factor into replacement. But plan on replacing within 2-3 years of your system’s final lifespan. A trusted technician can help you decide whether repairs or replacement are the best option (if you need a recommendation for a good HVAC repair company, we are more than happy to refer you to 3+ companies our clients have used in the past).

3. Windows

In a perfect world, your entire community association already has impact windows (at least in the areas your Board is responsible for), are receiving a wind mitigation discount for them, and purchased them from a reliable company that offers a lifetime warranty.

Unfortunately, the world is rarely perfect.

In that case, knowing how many windows you have to upgrade and allocating a percentage of your annual budget to do so will pay dividends years down the road.

Maintenance is never fun, which is (partially) why too many Boards put it off until it is an emergency. But, with a little bit of planning, it won’t throw your budget for a tailspin and require a special assessment. As always, we are here to assist in any inquiries you may have regarding your condo association, HOA or community law.

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