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Contemplate the Future – Both Near and Far


Georgia Lombardo-Barton
Barton Management

Contemplate the Future – Both Near and Far

Setting the Stage

There are two kinds of boards. There are boards that are reactive to a certain set of circumstances, and there are boards that are proactive when they realize that there are certain projects that need to take place. Boards have a great responsibility for the physical and fiscal fitness of their buildings. We find that every 10 to 20 years or so, a board administration is faced with aging equipment, and the decision comes up whether they should continue to repair the equipment or replace it.

I have a story to tell. It’s a story about how two boards are facing the same situation and handling it differently. Murphy’s Law applies well in property management. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Quite often, it goes wrong with very old elevators. What happens? The elevator breaks down at six o’clock on a Friday. Somebody gets stuck in the elevator on a Sunday morning. The elevator is out of service for a week while we wait for the parts to come from Germany. When we have these situations, we wonder, what are we doing?

Following the Action

Let’s evaluate how we should move forward. We have a board on the East Side and a board on the West Side with the same situation. The board on the east said, “I understand we fix the elevator every so often. However, we’re not prepared to undertake a major elevator modernization.” The board on the west said, “We’re tired of this. We understand that especially now for 2020, there’s a new software that has to be implemented, and I believe it has to do with door and gate monitoring, with the understanding that implementing that now won’t serve or you can’t reuse it in a modernization in the future.” It decided to undertake the modernization project now.

Doing It Right

Which way should a board go? Should it continue to repair this big equipment or replace it? When you have a situation where you know in the near future you need to do some upgrades and it is costly, it might just be better to plan for a project, inform your unit-owners in a timely fashion, and anticipate that the repairs/refurbishment will last for the next 20 or 30 years, and you will have a modern piece of equipment at your disposal. Residents will be happy, no further interruptions, no inconveniences, less expense toward repair, and the comfort of knowing that when you step into the elevator you will go where you need to go.

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