Maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean repairing something back to its original condition. If it did, we’d all still be using outhouses. And while we’re pretty good at changing interior spaces to suit our living needs, often exteriors are left out.
Here’s an example. In my building, probably 80 percent of our balconies are (unfortunately) enclosed and will likely (unfortunately) remain that way. Outside those enclosures are the original railings which give owners a nice prison-bar view from the waist down. Not very enticing.
When it came time to repaint and repair the exterior of the building, railing repair was part of the drill. My question was why couldn’t we ask the city if the railings on those completely enclosed balconies couldn’t just be removed. They served no useful purpose, were unattractive and ultimately cost money to maintain.
Going a step further, I suggested that the remaining open balcony railings be replaced with glass railings (which given how few there were, I’d assume would be cheaper than maintaining all the balconies in perpetuity.
It would be a win-win with all residents getting improved visibility, the building presenting a more modern face and ultimately saving money.
People don’t think outside their box very often.
Imagine my surprise when a neighboring building recently performed work that could have had a better outcome. The Preston Place fire caused damage to neighboring buildings’ roofs, including those of their carports. You know carport roofs? Those corrugated steel awnings you park under? The same ones that when it rains or hails produce an exquisite cacophony? Yeah, those.
So this neighboring building is getting their carport roofs replaced … with the same noisy steel they had before. I was dumbfounded. Surely there are materials that would absorb the sound of a driving rain. (Just tacking on some AstroTurf would have to be better.) But no one seems to have thought about it, even though their owners’ windows are inches above the carport roofline. If I can hear the thunderous rain noise many hundreds of feet away, it’s got to wake the dead in those condos, and yet…
Other older buildings with single-pane glass still allow any breakage or cosmetic replacements to be replaced with single-pane glass. I’d hazard a guess and say that they should’ve been requiring multi-pane window replacements since at least the mid-1980s.
Most multi-family buildings in Dallas don’t have master contracts for cable TV and internet. The savings for residents are enormous but it just doesn’t occur to them.
Of course smart thinking is great, but financially abusive spending is just as bad. One high-rise is performing a lot of restoration work to their public areas. It’s costing a bundle but they thought they’d saved for it appropriately to avoid special assessments. Enter a bossy committee member with solid gold taste that not enough people would stand up to and the result was a special assessment for the restoration work’s blown budget masked as routine maintenance.
(Aside: What is it about bossy older ladies who are often loathe to spend their own money but become punch-drunk spending everyone else’s? I’ve seen it time and again since writing for CandysDirt.com. Aside from longevity, I’m at a loss to understand why these stories always start with, “Some woman …”
We’re all adults and so my question is, “How old do you need to be before you stop being bullied by these people?” I’d think even at 60 or 70, finally telling a bully to eat dirt would feel mighty nice.)
The list could go on forever. My point is that condo and townhome complexes need to cast a wider net for input before embarking on these projects. While it’s unlikely every opportunity would be uncovered, it would at least increase the pool of people thinking about it.
Instead, HOA boards more often than not just do the same thing that was done before (it’s brown, let’s repaint it brown). Doing things differently takes more time and it’s likely they’re hardly experts themselves. Management companies should be experienced enough to share best practices from other buildings they manage. But at the end of the day, owners must participate in their communities and take pride in moving the ball forward. I guarantee it’s more exciting and rewarding than watching Wheel of Fortune while eating dinner off a TV tray.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.