The Meter is Running
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Be ready for the unexpected – and bulk up your reserve account.
AUTHORGregory Finger, FInger Management
Sounding the alarm. At an affordable HDFC co-op I manage in Harlem, a board member happened to smell gas in the middle of the night last winter. She quickly called 911 and Con Edison, and their inspection determined that there was a gas leak in the building. We immediately got the building super over there.
Catching a break. Luckily, this building has an oil-fired boiler, so residents still had heat. Our first order of business was making sure everybody could cook, so the next day we were able to get everybody in the building a two-burner hot plate. We then got plumbers in to see what needed to be done, and they determined the best course was to re-pipe the entire building from top to bottom. The gas lines were exposed, so we were able to decommission the old gas lines without having to do too much demo work. Then we ran a new line straight up through each of the three different apartment lines in the building.
A lesson worth learning. This repair ran about $100,000. The co-op had a healthy reserve fund built up from flip taxes from apartment sales, so it was able to finance the repairs right from its savings. The biggest lesson to take away from this is: Be ready for the unexpected. And the way to do that is to make sure you have a healthy reserve account so you’re prepared for any type of major expense. You can always plan for elevator modernizations and boiler conversions, but when it comes to the unexpected like this, you need to make sure you have funds available and are ready to go.