On almost every HOA reconstruction project we encounter the same types of challenges to one degree or another, and these challenges would be no different for a seismic upgrade project. First is the “political” aspect of a project, which entails explaining to the homeowners the necessity for the project in such a way that they will understand and approve. Under the best of circumstances, if not managed effectively and efficiently, a project can quickly “go south” making the task of the Board obtaining approval of the membership that much more difficult. Even a small number of disgruntled or dissenting homeowners voicing opposition to a proposed project can sometimes begin to turn public opinion. Whether this opposition is due to these folks not wanting to spend the money or not seeing the value or necessity of a project, or if they’re simply contrarians, their concerns need to be addressed in a timely manner before a majority of the membership is unduly influenced. That’s where strong project management and leadership become critical to the ultimate success of a project. A competent construction manager would implement a system for educating homeowners by holding town hall meetings, sending newsletters and emails and through updates on an accessible website to bring the membership “on board” with the project. Helping the Board explain the project in such a way so as to allay any misgivings members may have will aid in obtaining the consent and approval of the members.
The second aspect of a project – the actual construction – although no less important is in some ways easier for the Board than the first since it is less emotional. This task is also made easier if the Board has utilized qualified third party expertise in facilitating homeowners’ understanding of the project as outlined above. A well-qualified construction manager will assist the Board with all phases of the construction process, from initially defining the scope of the work, to obtaining bids from pre-qualified contractors and preparing contracts, to overseeing the construction and the invoicing process, through project close out.
Because of the potential liability of a structural retrofit project HOA Boards would be well advised to rely on the expertise of an experienced and qualified construction manager. The Board can then have peace of mind knowing that they have a knowledgeable advocate on their side for all construction related issues and experienced management to assure them that the work is being completed properly. Earthquake retrofitting projects are no different than other reconstruction projects in that they need strong, knowledgeable and experienced leadership from a construction manager to see them through to successful completion.