Renovation by Committee

November 2021

How a building looks, inside and out, is important.  Equally important is the aesthetics and quality of common areas which adds to the value of each suite.

When it comes to decisions about how shared spaces are designed and decorated, not everyone should be involved.  Too many participants providing their opinions and making decisions rarely leads to a satisfactory result.

Keeping renovation projects on time and within budget can be a challenge.  Some boards will establish a design committee to manage a project.  The best committees are comprised of individuals with practical renovation and design experience.  They should understand how to combine design, décor and colour so the end result appeals to a broad array of tastes.  The committee should be empowered to work with the board, management, residents, contractors, designers and vendors to make decisions.  The process works best when it is transparent, with experts consulted and financial resources available.

The board should never be involved in details beyond overall vision and budget.  When a smaller and more focused group selects the firm, and approves the design or concept, results tend to be better.  Committees, which have no authorization to disburse funds, present recommendations or proposals to the board for consideration at a board meeting.

Committees are a great way to engage residents and prepare individuals for future director roles.

Once established they remain under supervision of the board.  They should be limited in size.  Fewer people make it easier to coordinate and make decisions.  A good leader can steer the committee in the right direction while ensuring the group works within its mandate.  The committee leader or chairperson serves as liaison to the board.  An effective committee is one where its recommendations are well considered and typically accepted by the board except with good reason.

Common area design and renovations will never please everyone. Whatever you do someone will hate it.  Designs, plans and furniture samples provided to owners beforehand for public comment and testing is an effective way to obtain a general feeling.  Have a meeting to discuss planned renovations and give everyone an opportunity to provide input.  Then have the committee provide a final recommendation for consideration by the board.

The risk of renovation by committee is attempting to please everyone. Each person has a different viewpoint and opinion about how spaces should be used and how they should look.  Compromises end up producing a generic, boring and ineffective solution that fails to enhance owner enjoyment and resale value.  It is best to empower a few individuals to make final decisions after receiving input from others.