Every roofing contractor has his or her own horror stories when it comes to working with homeowners associations (HOA). But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Initially, there may be some infighting among the board members as to roofing budgets, warranties and the scope of work. If so, that’s the perfect time for the contractor to suggest that HOA representatives form a “re-roofing committee.” Preferably, this group should include any people knowledgeable in construction and real estate, as well as building trade professionals in the HOA.
The key to a successful relationship with these roofing committees starts with doing your homework. Through a life-cycle costing analysis or simple common sense, make sure the committee understands that going with a fully warranted roofing system is critical to enhancing and improving the property and increasing property values for every homeowner. This should convince the HOA that the lowest bid isn’t always the best.
It’s important to build a rapport with the HOA board, roofing committee and individual residents. An open line of communications begins when presenting a bid to the board and continues through each step of the roofing process.
Once a bid is accepted, request to hold a “town meeting” in a clubhouse or public area before starting roofing work — particularly, if it involves a tear-off. There are almost always questions involving roofing disposal, materials delivery and storage, limited access to roof areas and potential weather issues.
One good way to answer the myriad of questions the HOA will have is to create a “preparation for re-roofing” document for every resident. This will ensure that every property owner understands the safety issues, temporary parking inconveniences and other matters of concern before the reroofing work begins.
If the project is being handled on a building-by-building basis, it may be wise to hold further meetings for each unit, depending on the number of homeowners involved. It is also not unusual to have several official meetings with the board itself, as the life-cycle on these projects tends to be long.
Along the way, roofing contractors will be dealing with the HOA, board members, individual residents and most likely an “outsourced” property manager — all with different personalities and ideas about how the job should be handled. Dealing with these complexities successfully requires relationship building and educational skills that are typically not needed on single-family residential projects.
This is because HOA’s have different needs and liabilities than the average homeowner, and the board is making decisions for several property owners at once. In addition, re-roofing is typically the most challenging project an HOA will ever have to tackle.
It’s also helpful if the board president understands the impact of the roofing work on the future resale value of the properties. It is up to the contractor to explain the benefits of “doing the job right” and installing a hassle-free roofing system designed for the long term.
If the project proceeds as it should, don’t forget to ask for testimonials and reviews from roofing committee members. A positive report — especially an unsolicited one — on websites such as Angie’s List ™will almost always bring in additional business from the neighbors.