Ways to Phase Siding Replacement Project for Condos

I get asked a lot to look at siding and trim replacement projects on large condo buildings. We work on many historical buildings but many of these buildings are relatively new (built in the last 20 years). The owners typically do not know where to start with the remodeling process. Most people have no idea the extent of their issue, how much it will cost to replace what is needed and when they should do all the work.  This is where our company comes in and finds a solution that makes sense for the property and its owners.  We have done hundreds of renovations like this on properties in the Boston/New England area, so we can typically figure out what are the key issues on any particular property.

We generally start first by talking with the Association.  At that time we usually are able to find out what are the current and past issues with the siding and siding related parts to the house.  This is a key component to figuring out a game plan to renovations on any building.  We need to identify the problems so we can solve them. Typically, it makes the most sense on projects like this to replace parts of the siding and/or trim in stages instead of all at once.  Replacing every part of the building all in one project is not a bad idea, but most buildings don’t need it and it can be very costly.  Most Associations and owners have not planned on a project of this size and usually it is not budgeted for.

Some of the projects we have done in the past have gone like this;

Phase 1; Replace the clapboards, corner boards and window trim on the whole building

Phase 2 (2 years later); Replace the remaining trim (fascia, soffits gutters)

Phase 3 (1 year later); Paint the whole building

Phase 1 is sometimes broken up into several years as well, so it really depends on the needs of the building. Some buildings have one side that is really the worst, so we start there.  Sometimes the issue is in some of the dormers and siding close to the roof, so it may be that we replace all the siding and trim on the 3rd or 4th or 5th floors and then replace the roof with that if that is what is needed.

There are an unlimited number of ways that we can phase out a project for a building, but the important part it, if you are looking for a company that has been there before, and is capable of finding long lasting, long term solutions, you are in the right place.  We would be happy to look at your property and talk through the way to make your home perform the way it is supposed to again.

Small Condo Repair Budget Preparation

ID-10093118An effective way to prepare a simple building improvement/ maintenance budget when you live in a 2-10 unit small condo building

We often get calls from condo unit owners that desire to have repairs or replacement work done on the exterior of their buildings.  Typically, it involves roofing, siding, windows, or painting work.  The owner that calls us tends to be very motivated to have work done that in their words, “should have been done years ago.”   But after further discussion, they typically voice frustration at being able to get the other condo units to agree on anything, and therefore have been unable to get any action.   Often times, this lack of ability to act leads to significant damage on the buildings that could have been minimized if properly maintained.  Additionally, the condo unit owners that take pride in an excellent appearance of a property they own feel very angry that they can’t get anything done, as there is always an owner or two that want to sell and defer the maintenance to the next owner.

A few strategies I’ve seen work successfully for owners of these smaller condo associations:

  • A well written condo doc outlining a reserve for capital projects.   The more specific this is, the better.  Example:  5% of the cost of a roof every year.  This would equal close to a new roof every 20 years.   Good timelines for other items could be:
    • New windows every 20-30 years.
    • Exterior and common area painting every 5-7 years.
    • Or new Siding every 30-40 years.  (the cost could be applied to repairs at a minimum if current siding is holding up well)
  • Voting actions clearly defined in condo doc.  You’ll want to make sure that a project can get underway without an often impossible to get unanimous decision.
  • A budget for maximum spend on a project.  Example:  We have $50k to invest in maintaining the exterior of the building this year.  Let’s get quotes for the most we can get for this budget (best would be to plan for $45k or so leaving a contingency amount if the $50k really is your max).
  • Be proactive:  Have a few contractors present to you what they think should be the priority items based on their inspections.   Don’t tell them what the others said to maintain independence.
  • A yearly meeting to prioritize projects.  Top 3 can work well.   That way, if the funds aren’t in the budget there is no argument whether you did project # 2 or 3.

Any which way you do this, it is always more effective and fun if you can get positive participation with your fellow condo unit owners, so try to make the annual meetings fun and social.   Perhaps over a bbq, or dinner party.   Not always possible, but why not try?