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Self-Managed Association Boards: What Gives Way When a Board Does Not Know the Basics
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Minnesota Community Living July/August 2012

Self-Managed Association Boards: What Gives Way When a Board Does Not Know the Basics

By Joel Starks

In this series we are focusing on you, the board member, and the challenges you face each day when running your homeowners association. We are exploring the challenges of self-management and ways to work through them. This series will answer questions from readers. If you see something that seems common or you identify further challenges, email I will add your comments and feedback as the year goes on.

Board members and owners,
speak up!

1. Deferred maintenance: When should it be fixed, replaced or maintained?
2. Trusting a board: Get involved and go to meetings.
3. Contracts: Not just for their sake but yours as well.
4. Board fraud: Boards make mistakes, but what if? 
5. Agendas and announcements: Where do I find out info about meetings?

A contract is a beginning…and end
A contract documents the terms of your agreement with a vendor and is the official beginning of a project. However, the signed contract signifies the end of a process that must start long before that. That process includes a written scope of the project and detailed requests for proposal that help boards compare "apples to apples.” These efforts are the board’s job.

Scope out the project
Outline the needs of the association clearly and with detail. This will allow the board to collect consistent proposals and make a quicker decision on which vendor to use. 
For instance, a landscaping proposal may include mowing and snow removal, but it may also include weeding, hedge trimming, fertilization and frequency of service. The scope should include exactly what the board expects.

RFP should not be RIP
Create a request for proposal (RFP) that relates to your situation. Be careful not to overthink it. It can be as simple as a request that includes:
What the project is (scope)
Proposal due date 
Proposal format (email or hard copy)

Don’t get bogged down in RFP clutter. Get it down to 10 real things you are trying to accomplish. If there are more, create subcategories. Include the scope of work as a driver in the RFP. 
Signed contracts
Now you have done all the work on the front end and you just want to get the project started. When you have chosen a vendor, do the following to finalize the contract:
1. Set a clear start date. Put it on the first page of the agreement. 
2. Include the outlined scope as an addendum you can refer to any time. 
3. Get written confirmation from the vendor in regards to:
- Who is responsible for the work
- When will it be complete 
- How many updates to expect
- What communication avenues will be used 
- How much money down is required 
- Progress checks
- Any change orders are in writing and approved by the board
4. Include a statement that explains that final payment will be remitted when the board approves the completed work. 
5. Include in the contract the vendor’s warranty or workmanship guarantees.

Next issue we will talk about board fraud and misuse of power. How do you know when your board is above board?

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