Isn't That Capital! Planning for Capital Improvement Project Contingencies

 Sooner or later, every co-op or condo owner will have to deal with the  inconvenience of living through a major capital improvement project—a roof replacement, an elevator rehab, serious exterior work, or something of  that nature. No matter how carefully the project is scheduled, inevitably it  will be disturbing someone. But with strategic planning and constant  communication among board members, residents, management and the project crew,  the hassle of the project can be significantly reduced.

 Recently at one of the buildings managed by Chicago-based SGJ Management, the  rooftop membrane was being completely redone, while in another building, a  basement ruined from a water backup for several years because of cemented  drains is now having new drains installed.  

 “The rooftop project isn’t too disruptive to the residents—they just can’t use the deck, but in the summer people really do want to be up there,” says Sarah Gullette-Johnson, the management company’s chief executive officer and president. “The basement is a bigger project that forces us to turn off the water for the  entire day and that can be pretty disruptive.”  

 Those Pesky Projects

 Even capital improvement projects that seem simple can become a hassle when the  resident’s lives are upended. “For example, if you’re painting common areas, there might be a week where the residents have to use  a different staircase and avoid the workers,” says Gullette-Johnson.  

 The noise, dust, disruption and general hassle of any such undertaking is  sometimes simply unavoidable. “Even fixing elevators can be a major disruption,” says Michael Daniels, CEO of the Cagan Management Group in Skokie. “For example, redoing parking lots is always a problem because residents are very  protective of their parking spots—in Chicago they’re at a premium.”  

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