A reserve study is a detailed inventory of all of the components that a CID will need to repair or replace. It also lists what will need to be done to maintain these components, when this maintenance will need to be done, and what the cost will be. In addition, a reserve study calculates the required monthly contribution for each owner so that the needed funds will be available to perform the repairs and replacements. It also calculates how much a CID should currently have in its reserve account.
A 50-unit homeowners association maintains the roof of their building that currently costs $100,000 to replace. It’s estimated useful remaining life is 12 years. When you include inflation, the cost to replace the roof in 12 years will be approximately $140,000. The association’s reserve study tells them they need to save about $20 per unit per month over the life of the roof to have enough money to replace it in 12 years. If they save this amount each month over the roofs 12 year life, when it comes time to replace the roof there will be $140,000 in the bank and every homeowner who lived in the association and made use of the roof will have contributed. If they did not have the reserve study done and had not been saving money they would need to special assess each owner $2,800 to replace the roof during the 12th year or take out a loan that would cost $2,800 per unit plus interest. This is unfair to an owner who did not live at the property for the entire life of the roof. An owner who moved in one year ago now has to pay $2,800 to replace a roof that was used for the past 12 years by someone who no longer lives at the property. A reserve study tells you exactly how much each owner should contribute each month so the costs are spread out over the life of the components. Most associations maintain many very expensive components so having a reserve study done is imperative.