Now that we covered a basic HOA budget, we’ll move on to a more complicated budget for an HOA or town home community.
A more upscale community will have amenities such as a pool, a pavilion, playgrounds or tennis courts. Gated communities sometimes have all of these amenities along with entry gates and possibly paid security services. With the restricted access comes the responsibility of maintaining the roads and drainage system. We’ll address each one individually so you can understand how to budget accordingly.
The community pool for the exclusive use of the residents is a wonderful amenity to have. However, it can be a source of constant maintenance and oversight. In preparing your budget, place a line item under contract services for pool maintenance but also place a line item for janitorial service as well. Nearly all community pools will have bathrooms available and those bathrooms will have to be cleaned routinely. In addition to your pool and janitorial service, set aside money for the replacement or repair of pumps, pool resurfacing (marcite or fiberglass)* and ladders. Prior to the beginning of pool weather, consider having the deck pressure washed and/or repainted and the area spruced up.
Some newer communities have opted for pavilions and playgrounds instead of pools. While reducing overall expenses, the need for upkeep will always be present. Some pavilions have picnic tables and bathrooms. You should budget for janitorial services for routine upkeep of the bathrooms and picnic areas. A word of caution-regardless of where you live vandalism is still alive and well. The association manager or a member of the Board of Directors should make it a point to check the picnic tables weekly at least. Not so pleasant epitaphs can be found on nearly all of the horizontal surfaces. If you have wood picnic tables consider changing out to metal mesh tables, this reduces the likelihood of repeated vandalism. Pavilion roof replacement should be budgeted for as well*.
Playgrounds are also a prime source of vandalism. Routine inspection will ensure your equipment is in working order. While routinely inspecting the equipment, check the inside of slide tunnels for graffiti, gum or other destructive items. Commercial playground equipment is expensive therefore, budget accordingly*. Twice annual replacement of ground covering is sometimes necessary.
There are several aspects of the tennis court that should be addressed. First is the surface itself. Most commercial tennis courts for communities have a painted asphalt surface. If the courts are shaded and unevenly sloped, mold and mildew can accumulate is spots. Check your courts routinely and have mold and mildew removed immediately. Consider having your courts pressure washed with bleach and light pressure to remove the accumulated grime. Use caution as high pressure with the pressure washer could strip sections of the paint away leaving your court with a “striped” appearance. Nets should be replaced annually. Every few months, measure the net at the center point to ensure it is at the proper height (36″ at center strap, 42″ at the post). Windscreens should be secured at several points to prevent rips and tears. Check the fencing routinely to identify any loose tie downs or missing hardware*. Ensure that you budget accordingly for tennis court repairs and maintenance each year.
Depending on the incorporation provisions of the Articles of Incorporation and the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, gated communities are (most of the time) responsible for the roads and drainage system that exist behind those gates. This is usually the most expensive reserve item in a homeowners association budget. Maintenance of the storm water drainage system should not cause alarm, as most systems have a useful life of 15-20 years or more, but repairs are sometimes needed prior to proceeding with a paving project. Adequate funding of a paving reserve is needed to ensure that when the roads in your community begin to fail the money is there for paving. The same holds true for the gate system. An entry gate system has a useful life of about ten years. But each year, make sure to set aside enough to perform needed maintenance because gate arms break, loop detectors go bad and motors fail.
We’ve covered the annual expenses for maintenance. In the next post, we’ll cover what all those asterisks mean and how to avoid the dreaded special assessment.