When we have a capital project to complete one of the most prevalent things on our minds is how do we make it happen as smoothly as possible?
Regardless of whether your end goal is to have a unit owner vote approve a capital improvement, communicating with residents is vital to ensuring that the project will be a success. Naturally, this step comes after the board has been made aware of the need for an improvement, but before any exploratory engineer fees for specifications or project biddings are contracted for.
Even when a board has unanimously decided a capital project is essential there is a lot of benefit to be found in gaining the building’s unit owners buy-in. If possible, take the time to gain an understanding of what projects are important to the unit owners. This vital research step will help you determine if the project will be favored or not and help choose the best method of communication to use with stakeholders.
It takes a little work, but clearly explaining the need for the capital project and its future benefits gives members better reason to quickly accept it. Getting this done is especially important for costly capital improvement projects that require an assessment to fund the work.
When you’re engaging in the early stages of communication also move to hire a project manager. This step will help to significantly reduce the burden on your board, the unit owners, and the property manager. As volunteer board members you have little time to oversee a capital project along with everything else you do, but by utilizing a project manager you get an experienced professional who is dedicated to completing the project.
The project manager will advocate for efficiency and effectiveness, manage the timeline to close the project as swiftly as possible, and make the board look good in the process. Hire the right individual with the skills needed for your property and verify their ability to meet quality standards and construction code.
It can be a mistake to think that your property manager can serve as the project manager since property managers do not have the same expertise, nor can they spend the time to add value beyond completion of your project. In some cases, the property management firms charge a construction management fee separate from the management fee.
It always best to keep residents informed about major capital improvement plans by discussing them in meetings along with commonly used communication channels like email, the building’s website, newsletters, flyers, and social media. Getting buy-in from residents helps everyone. The most common conflict we see between residents and the board is inadequate communication. Thus, enhanced communication helps manage expectations and works toward them seeing that there is an end in sight. If you want to take an additional step, taking the time to send out surveys demonstrates that the board values their opinion.
Having board transparency clears the most common complaint residents have about capital improvements. Consistent, clear communication is essential and the board will find the process goes much more smoothly when residents are fully informed.
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