Many clients often ask me if the board and/or property manger input should be used in preparing a reserve study. My answer is absolutely. The board/manager are very valuable sources of information for any reserve study provider. The best way to get an accurate reserve study is to combine the knowledge and experience of a reserve study specialist and the historical community information of a knowledgeable, hands-on board of directors. A reserve specialist can do their job preparing a reserve study starting with no information and base the study on only his observations and industry experience. However with information from the board/manager the numbers in the report can become more accurate. A reserve specialist may only spend a couple hours on site while a board will have years of firsthand knowledge of the property. Every association is different and has different expectations of what their appearance should be and what their maintenance standards are. There are associations that are 15 years old that have never painted their building stucco while some associations may paint stucco every 8 years to maintain the appearance of the association. In addition the board might also inform you that the last time the stucco was painted elastomeric paint was used which may have a longer useful life than standard paint. Estimated costs in a reserve study are exactly that: “estimates”. The best source for costs in a reserve study is to get actual bids or past contracts from the association.
In some cases board may try to manipulate the figures in a reserve study for a personal agenda or to make the association look more favorable. This is a completely different issue and should not be permitted.