The Role of Vendors in Reserve Studies
The purpose of a Reserve Study is to thoroughly evaluate the condition of the major Common Elements of an Association (the “Reserve Components”) in order to estimate their remaining useful life and replacement cost(s). These goals are typically achieved through a thorough site inspection performed by a qualified engineer. Although these inspections can reveal a lot about the condition of the Reserve Components, we frequently find that the vendors who service and maintain those Reserve Components can often provide valuable insight that cannot be obtained through the engineer’s inspection alone.
For example, on a recent reserve study project, an irrigation vendor was able to inform us that the main irrigation control cable was in very poor condition. Although it was working properly at the time of our inspection, the cable had become brittle with time and had been repaired and/or spliced in many locations. Because the cable was working properly during the inspection and was buried underground and hidden from view, this deterioration could not be identified through an engineer’s inspection alone. However, because of the additional information provided by the irrigation vendor, we were able to include the cost of replacing the control cable in the Association’s reserve budget. Additionally, the irrigation vendor was able to provide a cost estimate for the replacement of the cable that was inherently more accurate than an engineer’s estimate would have been.
Other vendors that can often provide valuable insight include those who service the gates & access control systems, irrigation systems, lakes, fountains, pool equipment, air conditioners, and roofs of the Association.
Because of the valuable information that can be obtained from these vendors, we recommend that every Reserve Study include interviews of the Association’s vendors for each of the Reserve Components. Furthermore, we have found that once the purpose of the Reserve Study has been explained to the vendor, they are more than happy to provide this assistance. After all, this is an opportunity for them to help ensure that the Association establishes adequate reserve funding to cover the cost of their services in the years to come.