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The Cost of Deferred Maintenance

04/01/2021 2:18 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

By Andrew Harvey, AGS Construction Inc

*2021 Titanium Sponsor*

Many communities find themselves with a dilemma.  In the time of COVID-19, communities have many of their residents working from home or not at all.  Their daily routine consists of walking the dog, convincing their kids that online schooling is working, logging into an online meeting, talking to clients and colleagues on the phone, then walking the dog again to get out of the house in an effort not to go crazy.  This gift of time at home has led to a spike in maintenance requests.  The dilemma lies with managers and their boards trying to balance a flood of unexpected maintenance projects with a sometimes-waning budget.

The truth is there are few communities who like to spend money unnecessarily, but what is the true cost of deferring maintenance? Deferred maintenance as defined by Wikipedia is “the practice of postponing maintenance activities...in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies.”  In other words, ignore a problem to “save” money.  In reality, maintaining a community to a high standard will always save the community in the long run and keep property values high.

Let’s look at it hypothetically. 

Suppose a homeowner walking her dog notices a piece of siding that doesn’t look right and reports it to their HOA manager.  The manager discusses a repair which may exceed their threshold for approval with their board who insists the building is on a five-year paint cycle and will be corrected in due time in a couple years.  

What can happen in that span of time?  The trim and adjacent flashing may be what is keeping moisture from entering the home.  As water is allowed to enter the building via wind driven rain or snow, the building’s sheathing becomes sodden.  The moisture could continue into the building and continually soak structural framing.  With a few years of minor unobserved water intrusion, the building that was structurally sound for decades now has deteriorating sheathing and structural framing. What’s more, is inside the wall cavity there is now an environment that is prime for bio-growth.  

Once the deterioration is finally addressed during the paint cycle, it is discovered the repair is beyond the skill set of a paint company.  Then comes the requirement for design professionals and specialized contractors to investigate the failure. Temporary shoring and weather protection must be erected and preserved to stabilize the structure and keep additional moisture at bay while a lasting repair is designed. In the meantime, prior to disturbing existing materials environmental testing for lead, asbestos, and bio-growth must be taken, analyzed, and cleared for removal. Adding to the timeline and cost of repair is permitting with a municipality, which these days can take from a few minutes to several months.  Then comes the actual repair of removing and replacing compromised materials, mitigating bio-growth, installing flashing and sealants, and applying coatings.  Often is the case there are now aesthetic interior repairs required due to minor movements within the structure, to be followed by whole site cleanup, and landscaping repairs.  

Also consider the impact on residents for potentially weeks on end. For whatever reason the homeowner impacted most directly always seems to work from home or at night.  Beyond the interruption of work being done on a resident’s home what is the impact if the structure fails catastrophically?  While this is an extreme case, we have worked on communities that were in the process of being condemned because repairing known issues were pushed due to budgetary considerations.

While everyone can appreciate the need to save money, consider the long-term value in engaging a professional for a minor repair at a much lower cost in order to potentially save your community tens of thousands of dollars in special assessments, additional management fees associated with a long-term project, and the frustration associated with repeatedly answering everyone’s favorite question of “when will this be done?”

Offering over 35 years of experience in Denver, AGS Construction, Inc. has been building a reputation of being a one-of-a-kind company. AGS Construction specializes in Reconstruction and Restoration.  For more information visit www.AGSConstructionInc.com

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