Friday, June 2, 2023

Condo Survival is Up To You!

On Sunday, May 28, 2023, a six-story apartment building in Davenport, IA, collapsed. The building was old and appears to have been built from masonry, possibly unreinforced. This was an apartment building, but it could easily have been a condominium. The owners had plans to perform repairs, but the collapse beat them to it, and the building will be demolished.  This was not an isolated incident and follows the fatal collapse of a balcony in Berkeley, California, in 2015, the deadly failure of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida, in 2021, and in April 2023, the deadly collapse of a parking garage in New York. 

So what can be done to prevent this from occurring in your project? It's up to you. It's up to you as an owner. You cannot assume that those managing your building are ahead of looming failures. You have to ask questions. You have to be ready to fund the necessary repairs. You have to offer your time to serve on committees or the board of directors to be sure that essential maintenance is done promptly.

It's up to you as a member of the board of directors. Keeping assessments low cannot be your primary goal, regardless of the political pressure to do that. The goal should be to keep them adequate to pay for current operating expenses and fund future repairs. You have an obligation to accumulate necessary information on the condition of your building. You are responsible for raising the funds to repair and maintain it when the information you receive makes that clear.

It's up to you as the community manager. The owners and the members of the board are conflicted. They pay the assessments necessary to keep the building safe. Yet what that may cost often conflicts with their sense of what that should cost. You have to obtain that information for them, recommend investigations, and here's the hard part--you must convince them to fund repairs and maintenance adequate to do the job. The easy way out is to stay out of it and let them decide. The hard and the right way is to convince them otherwise!