Lobbies, corridors and common areas are the public face an HOA or condo community shows to the world. Shabby, threadbare, or painfully dated common areas can hurt overall property values and send the wrong message about how a community is maintained and cared for.
Of course, a newly-refurbished grand entrance and beautiful common areas that give owners bragging rights are universally popular, but when it comes to paying for that refurbished lobby, or stepping over painting or plastering crews' equipment, the consensus can sometimes break down. Some owners may want low-maintenance floor tiles in place of carpet that needs frequent shampooing, for example, while others insist that Persian area rugs are the way to go—and if the lobby and common areas aren’t too awful, there are always a handful of frugal owners who insist renovating can be put off entirely for at least another year or two.
So how does a condo community or HOA determine when its common areas are due for renovation, and how much renovation is in order? As with most such issues, there are several different answers.
Balancing Budget and Buy-In
Whatever the project, it’s up to the board members to make aesthetic and economic decisions while maintaining a balance of interests. Juggling these tasks is not easy, especially when faced with the diverse and often cross-generational interests of homeowners who may not be sold on the project’s value. Balancing residents' priorities and concerns is sometimes tough. One faction may want their building to look great no matter what it costs, while another faction stands firm, rejecting all but the barest minimum project proposals.
Getting skeptical residents to "buy into" a renovation or remodeling plan involves more than just putting a line or two about the proposed project into a newsletter or sticking a notice up on a cork board in the entryway. The most successful projects tend to be those where residents are involved early on in the process, and feel that their concerns and input are valued and taken seriously. Experts agree that communication is key to securing broad-based support amongst owners. Open meetings, and the creation of sub-committees where appropriate can help residents become more educated on the issues, and become more supportive of the board’s position on a project.