Those who handle the management of any kind of residential building deal with contractors and contracts regularly—but they aren’t the only ones who should know about the process. It’s not necessarily an arcane topic—whether the project is a major roof repair or an association-wide window replacement, the construction process is usually pretty much the same.
But what if mistakes are made in the construction process by the property manager, a consultant or someone else in charge? Who’s ultimately responsible? Whose insurance coverage comes into play? What recourse exists for building communities having problems with their contractors?
Though an HOA’s property manager is usually the one responsible for handling construction-related transactions, board members also should have at least a passing knowledge of what documents, insurance and professional certifications are needed by anyone doing work for their building. It’s a simple question of boards doing what they can to protect themselves and their association from unnecessary liabilities. It’s also a matter of residents working to protect the equity they’ve established in their homes, which for many is their largest asset.
So your board has settled on a bid from a qualified contractor who appears capable and ready to do the job. Everything appears to be in order. Short of signing the contract and telling the contractor to go to work, what’s next? Those who are overseeing the construction project need to obtain and thoroughly inspect, all of the necessary paperwork for the project, says Peter Lehr, director of management for Kaled Management Corp. in Westbury. “Check their certificates and insurance coverages, and make sure they’re all up-to-date.”
An association’s management should obtain a certificate of insurance liability from any contractor doing work on their premises. The scope of the project should determine how much insurance is needed, and board members and others overseeing the construction process should be on alert for contractors who may mistakenly (or intentionally) under-insure themselves. Verifying the specificity of credentials and coverage is of the utmost importance.