As summer winds down, board members are back from vacation, and near-fall temperatures create the perfect opportunity to get to those outdoor, community-wide tasks. Whether it’s regular maintenance, repairs, renovations, or getting ahead on end-of-year planning, starting your homeowners’ association’s (HOA’s) fall projects now will help you enjoy the holidays and new year with less stress and more time. Here are eight projects to put on your fall to-do list.
1. Repair and replace worn or deteriorated items.
Residents who live in an HOA are expected to pay regular assessments, so, in turn, they expect—and deserve—a well-maintained community. That’s why it’s important for the board to keep a watchful eye on the exterior surfaces of the community. From extreme heat in the summer to brutal cold in the winter, these areas are exposed to treacherous conditions year-round. In the fall, thoroughly inspect all structures, walkways, and roadways. Repair damages and seal areas where water could penetrate the exterior. Before you hire a repair company, ask your community manager for a referral to an experienced vendor who might be able to offer preferential pricing.
When inspecting buildings, amenity centers, clubhouses, and storage sheds, pay close attention to:
- Windows and doors
- Caulking and weatherstripping
2. Schedule a landscaping walkthrough.
Your association’s landscape plays a key role in how your community is perceived by residents, Realtors, and prospective buyers. Your landscaping contractor should be a trusted source, providing professional recommendations, honest service, and ongoing communication. Keep your community looking its best—even during the “off” season—by partnering with your landscaping vendor to complete a walkthrough of the community. Fall is often the recommended time to plant new trees, shrubs, and grass. Refresh your beds with seasonal plantings, prune trees and shrubbery as suggested by your landscaper, and prepare for winter. Repair irrigation systems as needed and adjust watering schedules for cooler temperatures.
While conducting your landscaping walkthrough, make note of:
- Neighborhood entrances
3. Prepare your amenities for winter.
With today’s rising costs, keeping your neighborhood amenities in good working order is one of the most cost-efficient actions you can take. Here are some amenity to-dos:
- If you’re in an area that routinely experiences snow, interview and select snow removal vendors now.
- Employ a pest control company to inspect attics and roofs for access points that would allow insects or rodents to enter.
- Connect with a pool maintenance professional and discuss appropriate winterization procedures. Make sure pool heaters are working and pool furniture is properly stored.
Other amenities to inspect right now include:
- BBQ grills
- Splash pads
- Playground equipment
- Park benches, picnic tables, and pool furniture
4. Review budget plans.
For many HOAs, the fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. Take the time to review your HOA expenditures, budgets, and contracts before the current year ends. This will give you the background information you need to create next year’s budget and work with your CPA on tax return preparation and strategies.
Recommended items to review:
- Financial statements
- Historical expense and cashflow trends
- Vendor contracts
- Insurance policies
- Governing documents
- Legislation compliance
- Reserve funds
- Emergency action plans
5. Schedule community-wide holiday gatherings.
The most successful HOAs are those with a high level of community engagement, and fall is a great time to build connections with residents through community activities. Families are back in town from summer trips, and mild temperatures give you the option for both indoor and outdoor events. Encourage your events committee to start planning activities and send out reminders of key holiday events far in advance before everyone’s calendar gets full.
Consider events such as:
- Fall festival
- Movie night
- Concert in the park
- Park or trails cleanup day
- 5K walk/run
- Charitable events (coat, blanket, canned goods drive, etc.)
- Thanksgiving and New Year’s celebrations
6. Inform residents of community-wide holiday rules.
Before residents start hanging lights, hosting parties, and decorating their yards, revisit your governing documents and remind them about any new or established rules that might impact their holiday celebrations. Share decorating guidelines, parking restrictions, and crowd information in a notice, newsletter, and on your community website to help prevent violations.
Review and share policies regarding:
- Decorating guidelines
- Size and timing of parties
- Parking restrictions
- Guest guidelines
- Noise policies
7. Review management and vendor contracts.
Get ahead of planning by reviewing existing management and vendor contracts. First, confirm your HOA is receiving appropriate services at the agreed-upon pricing. Then, reflect on what has been accomplished throughout the year, determine if existing vendors are still a good fit, and:
- Schedule meetings with vendors to talk through recommendations for the upcoming year.
- Ask contractors if they’re offering promotions or referral specials.
- Consider obtaining competitive bids from other vendors.
If you’re considering a change, do your homework. Verify a vendor’s work experience, request references from similar communities, and contact the references provided.
8. Make safety a priority.
Cooler temperatures also bring the potential for harsh weather. Be prepared and schedule a professional to inspect the heating systems on all HOA-owned buildings. Well-maintained systems are more fuel-efficient and tend to have longer lifespans. In addition, take these measures:
- Get your facilities ready by servicing all fire and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Make sure fire extinguishers, sprinklers, emergency lighting systems, and exit signs are in working order.
- Remind residents to carry a flashlight, wear reflective clothing, and stay on the sidewalk, not the street, for nighttime safety.
A Fall Maintenance Guide for Your HOA
These are just a few of the many projects well-suited for fall. Download our “Fall Maintenance Guide” ebook to learn how to prepare your facilities for winter.