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Can I do this? What's it entail?


Brandon Whitmore
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A question from a past client:

Hi, Brandon, When I purchased my condominium at The xxxxxxxxxxx in June of 2008, you came by and inspected the building as well as the condo interior. We're now in the process of turnover at xxxxxxxxx and our HOA is looking for an inspector to give the 40-unit building an overall assessment. Do you do building inspections of this sort? If so, could you give me an estimate for the work? We'd like to be sure that the building is in good shape before the HOA takes it over from the developers.

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I've been on the board of our HOA a few times (out of pure selfishness - I care about my money).

This isn't a house you're looking at. You are inspecting for the BOD and the BOD represents, and is accountable to, 40 home owners. Obviously it is not impossible but the liability is great and so are the responsibilities. This statement: We'd like to be sure that the building is in good shape before the HOA takes it over from the developers means you're it. E&O insurance paid up?

I might tackle something like that but not alone - I'd have a good team around me including lawyers and I wouldn't be bashful about the price.

Fools rush in....

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So? Your chance for a big buck job. Find out what they want, create a standard check list for their needs and charge a ton. Oh, by the way, do a hold harmless letter. The biggest one my company ever did was 280 units. Nice coin.

My mind starts racing thinking about all of the what if's. I study residential building codes daily, but not codes dealing with these buildings. I figure the bigger the bucks at stake, the bigger the chance for a lawsuit.

I'd just be cautious to make sure that there is no misunderstanding about what you would do for them and leave it to them to make sure that it would be adequate.

I was hoping there was some standard for an inspection such as this. It doesn't sound like that's the case.

This statement: We'd like to be sure that the building is in good shape before the HOA takes it over from the developers means you're it. E&O insurance paid up?

E&O Insurance-- haven't had that in a couple of years. Never had a claim-- dang-- did I just say that.

I might tackle something like that but not alone - I'd have a good team around me including lawyers and I wouldn't be bashful about the price.

Luckily, I've never had the need for a lawyer either. I'll have to do some research to track down a good one if I decide to proceed.

I've contacted what y'all would think is a good inspector to see if he would be interested. I figure he's probably done these before.

Many thanks.

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Brandon,

You HAVE had a need for an atty, you just don't know it yet.

If you don't know what is involved in this project, do not do it. We do approx 6-8 per year. It is a combination of a reserve study and inspection. Every project is completely different. The key is not about the "money" it is about the product you produce. Lots of liability if you don't have a clear understanding of what you are providing.

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Les, pardon my poor understanding of some terms, but what is 'reserve study'?

Marc

Condo Boards, (HOA's) are responsible for maintaining the property. The inspection that is done for an HOA normally only deals with the things the board is responsible for. Most cases they do not include (at least the one's I have done) individual interior apartment conditions. The board needs to maintain a reserve fund for future repairs and maintenance for their areas of responsibility. Roofing, Siding, etc. They usually want present condition and remaining life projections. It is not difficult if you sit with them and determine just what they need, hire a few experts to assist and give them the report they want. This appears to be slightly different because they are taking it over from the builder and will probably just want to make sure the builder did things correctly and there are no potential construction problems. But that should have been taken care of by the local building authorities when they gave a CO to the complex. A properly drafted agreement for the inspection indicating what is and is not to be inspected becomes your hold harmless.

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John,

thanks for responding to Marc.

John is correct about it being about "understanding" what you are providing. We have a team of people we use for this type work. IE: One person writes what two inspectors call out, everyone takes photos, electrician and hvac people work alone, etc. We do the field work very quickly and spend lots of time in the office writing the report. We strongly feel this type report needs to be personally presented to the BOD or responsible party (management).

If you do not feel comfortable, don't do them. It is true that some pay very well, but some are just boring blah projects. Your project will require some work before you even accept it; scope, standards, etc.

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We do the field work very quickly and spend lots of time in the office writing the report. We strongly feel this type report needs to be personally presented to the BOD or responsible party (management).

If you do not feel comfortable, don't do them. It is true that some pay very well, but some are just boring blah projects. Your project will require some work before you even accept it; scope, standards, etc.

That's pretty much it. Exactly it.

I like them on smaller buildings, up to about 50 units. It's good easy money if you know how to write the report.

If you don't, you go off a cliff.

Check it out, though; don't be afraid to do it if you understand the building type. I think they're easier than HI's in some ways.

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I just put in a bid for a 177 unit condo complex reserve study and complex inspection. Everything from an elevator contractor to an engineer that specializes in parking garages was included in my bid (This is what the Board wanted in the way of special inspections). If it goes through we will be on site for about 2 full days and this will be with 8 folks at the project doing their thing. In addition to the two folks above, we will also have a commercial HVAC/mechanical contractor as this complex has a central system. The bid for this ended up being in the low teens and that even included a special GL insurance policy that the complex requires just for this job.

I have no idea if I will get the contract, I was told that my bid is in the middle. It's one of those things that you kind of wish it won't happen in the back of your mind! [;)]

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