How Can I Help My Association?
Many homeowners ask this very question, "How Can I Help?" They feel that they are only one person in their community and what they do or don't has little effect. This statement is far from the truth, however, as what we do effects everyone around us when we live in a homeowners association. Just because one does not have the time to volunteer to serve on the Board does not mean that efforts to maintain your own home go unnoticed. As that old expression goes, "Rome was not built in a day," but with everyone pitching in one at a time, just think what could be accomplished. Just imagine what it would be like if everyone pitched in and maintained the interior and exterior of their own homes and how much money they could save themselves and their association.
How can I help? How can I get my neighbors to help? Will it really make a difference? Your association is like any other business in that it must be able to pay its bills on time; and if there is not enough revenue, then the maintenance fees must be raised or a special assessment fee charged to each homeowner in order to make ends meet. Therefore, besides volunteering for a board or committee, paying one's own assessments in a timely fashion, whether scheduled monthly or annually, can make all the difference in whether or not the common areas of the community look neat and tidy all year round.
Interior repairs and maintenance are not difficult and can normally be performed by the homeowner: 1) change the ac filter once a month; it will help the air conditioner run more efficiently and will save in the cost of electricity; 2) check each toilet, faucet, shower, and tub for leaks; the loss of water may start as just a drip but in time it becomes a steady stream and causes a tremendous loss of money and water; 3) hot water heaters should be cleaned annually and checked monthly for leaks; also check the temperature control, as high temperature settings can be a waste of fuel. Keep it set on a normal setting. Leaks can cause not only a loss of water but damage to the home and/or neighboring homes. When certain utilities or equipment are provided under a shared agreement among all other association members, doing your part to conserve resources and operate the equipment efficiently benefits not only yourself, but everyone within the association.
Other items that can help not only you as a homeowner, but also your association are as follows: check your doors and windows to make sure that they fit securely and that there is not a gap which in turn causes a loss of cool air or heat. This will save the homeowner money in a single family home. It could also save a condominium association a tremendous amount of money. Remember, savings start with one homeowner and build from there.
There are many items that are easy to maintain and should be checked monthly; such as the caulking around the shower, tub and sinks within the home. This helps prevent damage to the home. If it is a two or more story residence, it may also prevent damage to the residents below or beside you. Repairs could include the leak itself but also water damage to sheetrock and flooring of your home and your neighbor's. Simple maintenance can help prevent this situation so you never have to face these stressful and potentially volatile issues.
The simplest steps can save you, and quite possibly your association, thousands of dollars. Serving your community starts at home, by doing your part to help maintain your home. Just imagine if you lived in an association of 100 homes and each person saved their association a modest $5.00 a month. That would equate to $6,000 per year - - which is a lot of money for most homeowners associations. Being a thoughtful neighbor is not hard work and is certainly easier than other forms of volunteer work for the community. What you can do to help your association is very easy, so start now and reap the rewards!
Jan Svoboda, AMS®, Association Times, July 2006