As buildings and their internal systems and physical components age, how can the community associations that own them best prepare to meet the unexpected—but necessary— financial demands.
Over many conversations in recent years, members of the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) have identified aging infrastructures—the physical structures and the components within them that community associations rely on for residents’ safety and wellbeing— as a critical concern for association managers, boards, homeowners, and residents.
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Too often, according to Foundation members—and despite occasional inspections and regularly scheduled reserve studies—associations fail to recognize serious structural and system failures. When damage becomes so obvious that it cannot be ignored, the tendency is to make superficial or temporary repairs and postpone comprehensive, in-depth restoration.
To address this growing problem, the Foundation convened a task force in 2018, comprising attorneys, reserve specialists, engineers, insurance providers, managers, and bankers, to determine what issues are the most prevalent in failing physical components, and—especially— how associations can prepare themselves to address and resolve these issues when they inevitably arise.
Community Associations Institute managers, board members, and contractors in community associations across the U.S. responded in a survey to share their recent major capital projects with the task force. More than three-quarters (81%) of survey respondents reported encountering unanticipated and unplanned-for infrastructure issues over a recent three-year period.
The aggregated information and observations of these respondents revealed empirical data that can enlighten thoughtful association boards and committees, community managers, business partners and contractors, homeowners—anyone who is responsible for the investment of community assets.
This project represents several years of discussion and countless hours contributed from our volunteer leadership. We are grateful to the Foundation Think Tank, which identified the need for this research and provided funding for this project, and to the members of the Aging Infrastructures Task Force for their steadfast volunteer leadership. These industry leaders ensured that we gathered the right data and completed this research project. Thank you.