Column: Be sure to save those documents

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Commentary by Eric McKinney

We all would agree that a well-maintained neighborhood can be beneficial to the property values of the homes within. It also can elevate the mood of residents by creating pride in homeownership.

For an association board there is much to do to maintain the finishes and integrity of structures, common areas, sidewalks and roadways, lakes and ponds, etc. This list could go on and on, especially when considering seasonal regions of the U.S.

Given that a community spends 50 to 60 percent of its annually collected homeowner dues on maintenance and capital improvement projects, the need to properly assemble and store the documents associated with community projects becomes essential.

Access to these records allow a community to easily locate material lists, past contracts (for budgeting and reserve studies), vendor compliance and contact info as well as warranties, just to name a few. Historical project documents also provide a clear picture of a community’s financial past, equipping boards with the tools needed to establish prudent budgetary parameters.

Yet, while this is certainly the lion’s share of where a community invests its monies, it is one of the most overlooked and undermanaged aspects of HOA/COA management. I can speak directly to this as I’ve provided vendor services to communities via HOA/COA management companies for the past 28 years and have been requested for such items as my insurance information and project material lists only a handful of times.

The truth is this: Management companies don’t see the need to collect and properly file these documents in a comprehensive and consistent manner on behalf of their communities.

Knowledge is power, which makes it significant that association boards retain and control their historic project documents for the following reasons:

  • No one looks out for your community better than those that live within the community.
  • If/when there is a switch to a new management company, what happens to your historic project documents (that is, if these records were properly maintained in the first place)?
  • And finally, retaining control creates a legacy for future boards that helps to eliminate wasteful spending when this information is readily available.

To keep your association on track in these areas, check out communitylynk.com, a free online service that works with both self-managed and professionally-managed communities.

Eric McKinney is a 28-year veteran of the HOA/COA industry, managing partner of Cambri Management Services, cambrimgt.com. Contact him at ericm@cambri.com or 317-732-7720.


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