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Help with Proposal


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Many variables in something like this.

What do they want inspected?

Is this an inspection of the building or each unit?

Does the complex have elevators?

Does it have a pool?

You need to think about how much time you will have in a project like this. I would guess that if each unit is to be inspected that you will need around ten inspectors each doing about five inspections a day for almost seven days! This is doable as a 2br/2bth condo should not take longer than 45 min.

You also need to figure on how you will handle the units that you can not get into for whatever reason. Will you just pass it up and not inspect or will you make a return trip to inspect it. Personally when I do multi-family units, I do not return to inspect. I must have access when I'm at that unit, this is stated in my contract.

Good luck, maybe you can provide some more details.

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There are templates out there, but really are not much good for a project like this. Regardless of what most inspectors will tell you, each project is different. Scott's advice is very good and it comes from experience. We have done projects like yours and the success and failure is all determined at the intital contact and contract. Lack of complete understanding will doom the project. Also, be aware that in the event of a dispute, you must have a protocol that you have followed.

For us, I would expect 4-5 meetings and retainer before we did anything.

We pretty much do the same thing every time and use a four person crew.

Sure would be nice to land one like this - you could go to DisneyLand!

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Have they given you a "request for proposal" (RFP)? If so, that usually defines pretty clearly exactly what they're expecting. When you get one of those, just turn the language in the RFP inside-out and it becomes your proposal.

If they haven't produced an RFP, then you'll have to interview them to discover exactly what they're expecting from the inspection. That interview usually allows you to write up one, two or, sometimes, three options in your proposal. (Condo associations *love* options.) Each option includes a different inspection protocol and a corresponding fee.

For instance, option A might be all-encompassing and include a physical inspection of every unit including crawlspaces & attics, roofs, exteriors, common areas, grounds, the big mechanical systems (if there are any), pools, etc, etc, plus a replacement reserve study thrown in as a cherry on top.

Option B might be just like A but include physical inspection of only a percentage of units (10-20% is good. Frankly, you get a perfectly adequate picture of the property by looking at 10% of the units.)

Option C might include just the big-picture items; roofs, exteriors, major mechanicals, plus a portion of the attics & crawlspaces. This is an attractive option because you won't have to schedule around all the residents. If there's a decent onsite manager, he or she probably has a very good idea of the condition of the units anyway.

A lot will depend on the property, who's hiring you, and why. How old are the buildings? Were these originally built as condos or were they converted from apartments? Is the association hiring you? Why? Is litigation in progress or being planned?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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All of what Jim said is spot on. When I do these things, that's exactly how I go at it.

Most condo associations don't even know what they want; they just know that they should have someone look @ the building(s).

Go here to check out what one of the large companies does:


Have you ever done something on this scale before? I've done a lot of condos, & condo consulting is a substantial part of my business. There's lots of little stuff that one needs to understand when working w/HOA's.

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You have heard from four of the best in the business. I know any one of them would agree that a project of this size is not one to cut your teeth on. You have to understand the terms, phrases, nomenclature, etc.

As for me, if you e/m me or call, I would be happy to give you more of my "world famous opinion" and charge you exactly what it is worth - $1.37.

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Hi Marilyn,

I notice you are in New Orleans. Is this a condo that was damaged by Katrina. If so, you could be talking a whole different ball of wax than your normal condominium inspection.

I've done whole condos too. I usually do what Jim and Kurt talk about and contract with the Condominium Association to do only the common use areas, exteriors, roofs and crawlspaces at an hourly rate and then each individual homeowner is free to hire me to do their unit at my normal condo fee.

I've done apartment buildings too. Those are essentially the same concept, except the landlord usually is trying to figure out what condition each unit is in and spot those who're trashing his/her building so a letter can be prepared for eviction. When I do apartment buildings, it's roof and foundation, crawlspace if there is one, water heaters and furnaces in individual units or a boiler if it's a whole-building unit, and I use a simple checklist that I prepare for the building based on what they want to know about and the common characteristics of the building. From that, I prepare my final report.

I'd use whatever software you're using now for each building in the complex and do a basic description of the electro-mechanicals common to each. I'd then create a checklist to attach to the regular report that I could use for individual units - if that was part of the deal. The checklist would be extremely basic and would list the building address or number, unit number, number of bedrooms and baths and have 4 areas to fill out - Electrical, Heating/AC, Plumbing, Interior for each unit. Something like this:


New Orleans, LA XXXXX

Unit Number: _______________

Name of occupant: ____________________________ Tel. _________________ Email:_____________________

Number of bedrooms: _________

Number of bathrooms: _________


Sub-panel location: ________________________ Signs of immersion? Yes ______ No ______

Panel type/amperage rating: ______ /________

SEC feeder size: ________

Type of wiring used: ________

Aluminum wiring present?: Yes ________ No ________

GFCI's present where required/needed: Yes _______ No _______ (Where?) _______________________________

Panel Anomalies: _______________________________________________________________________________



Type: Electric ______ Gas ______ Age _______ Signs of immersion?: Yes ______ No ______

Strapped?: Yes ______ No ______

Pan present?: Yes ______ No ______

TPR present and properly configured: Yes ______ No _______

Water heater anomalies seen: _______________________________________________________________________



Type: Electric ______ Gas ______ Age _______ Signs of immersion?: Yes ______ No ______

Location of fuel shutoff or elec. disconnect: ______________________________________

Type of gas pipe used, if any: ________________________ Type of flue: ________________________

Brand: _________________________ Mod# ________________________ Serial# ________________________

Works?: Yes ______ No _______

Overall condition of unit: __________________________________________________________________________

Anomalies seen: _____________________________________________________________________________________


Location of main water shutoff: __________________________________

Location of fuel shutoff: _______________________________________

Type of supply pipe: ____________________________

Type of waste pipe: ___________________________

All fixtures operational?: Yes _______ No _______ If no, which ones: _________________________________



Signs of immersion/water damage present?: No ________ Yes (Describe)______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Appliances present/operational?

____ Dishwasher: Yes ______ No ______

____ Range/Oven: Yes ______ No ______

____ Built-in Microwave: Yes ______ No ______

____ Disposal: Yes ______ No ______

Condition of walls: Good _______ Fair _______ Poor ______ (Where?)___________________________________

Condition of ceilings: Good ______ Fair ______ Poor ______ (Where?)__________________________________

Condition of floors: Good ______ Fair ______ Poor ______ (Where?)____________________________________

Condition of stairs: Good ______ Fair ______ Poor ______ (Where?)____________________________________

Handrail(s) present: Yes ______ No ______

Type(s) of counters: Kitchen ___________________ Bath #1 ___________________ Bath #2 _________________

Condition of Counters: Good______ Fair _______ Poor _______ (Where?)_________________________________

Type of doors: _______________________________ All Present?: Yes ______ No______ (Where?)____________

Cabinet types: Kitchen __________________ Baths _________________

Cabinets Functional?: Yes ______ No ______ (Where?) _______________________________________________

Type of windows: _____________________ Serviceable? Yes ______ No ______ (Where?)_________________


Type of overhead door: ________________________________

Damaged?: Yes ______ No ______ (Explain) ____________________________________________________________

Auto-opener present?: Yes ______ No ______

Auto-opener operational?: Yes ______ No ______ (Explain) ______________________________________________



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Thanks everybody for the great advice! I've shared the thread with our inspector in Biloxi (where the job is taking place) and found some "cookie cutter" proposal templates. He's got a lot of experience with multi-unit buildings sucvh as these, so I'm confident he can put together a well-versed and competitive bid for the client. Fingers crossed we get the job!!

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