In 1987 I bought a condo. After friends congratulated me on my purchase they warned, “Don’t ever agree to be on the condo board.”
You can visit Newton MRT Station to see the tips and recommendations that you should consider before you become a member of your condo association board. This can be a big responsibility for you so you should make yourself prepared for this.
The board of directors of a condominium association is responsible for making sure that the maintenance required to maintain the property is done, and deciding how the fees collected from the residents are spent.
The reasons I was given not to join the board included:
- People will knock on your door in the middle of the night when something is wrong, even though they should call the emergency number provided.
- Other residents will treat you like staff, even though you’re a volunteer.
- No matter what the fees are people will complain that they are too high because the board is not managing the money properly.
I took that advice until the retaining wall crisis. We have a large retaining wall on our property, which we always knew had a life expectancy, and would need to be rebuilt. When the time came the soil beneath it started to fall as soon as the old wall came down. The street was deep in mud. The engineer, our management association and the company rebuilding the wall all began pointing fingers at each other; no one accepted blame for not predicting this was a possibility. A project budgeted at $100,000 would now cost $300,000 to complete.
The residents all complained and pointed fingers at our mostly inactive board members. At this point I decided that there was no point in complaining, I could make a difference only by working from the inside. So despite all the warnings, I joined our board.
For the next six years, I was actively involved in making the decisions that kept our property looking its best. The time commitment wasn’t cumbersome since we employ a management company that contacts vendors, obtains bids, oversees maintenance and is responsible for financial operations. As a firm believer that all knowledge will eventually become useful I learned:
- Why the cheapest landscaping company bid is not always the best bid to accept.
- Why a collar is necessary to have around a sewer and other cement related issues.
- A building can leak from the roof into the middle units.
- How to evaluate, negotiate with and choose a new management company.
- Your association can borrow money at a favorable rate even if you don’t have collateral. There is nothing for a bank to claim if a condominium complex defaults, but they will still loan you money.
- Why maintaining a swimming pool is expensive.
After serving two complete three-year terms on our board I took a couple of years off. Last year I rejoined the board for another three-year term because I discovered I liked to know what is going on from the inside.