Hiring the best people for your condo building takes work.
Price, while important, is an inadequate indicator of actual cost. There are myriad ways to appear low cost while offering reduced quality or adding to project costs.
Far too often, condo boards are timid when it comes to asking hard questions or requiring commitments in writing. The justification for this may be a need to move quickly on a project or fear that a contractor will reject stipulations. This can result in higher costs, unnecessary delays and unsatisfactory results.
Condo boards and management should establish a vetting process to avoid problems or surprises, and unnecessary costs.
Louis Evangelou is President of Toronto Decorating Corporation, a company providing general maintenance, restoration and painting services for condo corporations and residents. He provides some general suggestions for ensuring successful condo projects and avoiding problems with contractors.
Ensure Proper Insurance Coverage
Contractors lacking proper insurance coverage put the entire condo corporation at risk. Should something go wrong with a project, expecting condo owners to pay the cost through condo fees is inconsistent with good management.
Prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP)
For large projects employ a consultant to prepare a RFP. This document details project requirements, specifications and expectations. It provides contractors with a realistic set of specifications upon which to provide a quote. In the event of a misunderstanding, these specifications document what was agreed upon. Changes to the specifications require renegotiation and, likely, additional cost.
- Require the contractor to participate in a weekly meeting with the property manager or relevant condo committee. This ensures ongoing communication of problems or concerns by either party.
- Projects without a clearly identified completion date tend to drag on much longer than expected.
- Require proof of insurance for the duration of a project and for the specified amount.
Have a Signed Contract
For small projects, such as lawn maintenance, requirements or expectations should be present in a signed contract.
For large projects where a RFP exists, a signed contract may be based on the RFP.
Rule of Three
Always obtain at least three proposals before making a decision. Three proposals allow for a basis of comparison in pricing, timing and other factors deemed important.
Rely on your Property Manager
Your property manager plays a crucial role in identifying quality contractors. They likely have prior experience dealing with commercial contractors and can obtain references from colleagues. They can speak with contractors and check references prior to making a recommendation to the board over who should be asked to submit a proposal.
A good property manager will begin by asking questions of the board. This allows them to determine if they can prepare the specifications for a project or contract. When unable to do so, a good property manager will advise the board to hire a consultant for this purpose and possibly to manage the project.