Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Association Woes

I don't want to reveal too much about my association, as I don't have others' consent to be blogging about it, but lately we've been experiencing the downside of communal living. A little under a year ago a contractor working on someone's condo hit our development's sign. I was not privy to the decisions that were made about what to do about it, but I gather that the choice given to us was the contractor would replace the sign at cost, or put back up the old one for free. They decided to put back up the old one (after the smashed sign laid on the ground for around a month. A classy look.)
Well, the city got involved, because now the old one wasn't up to code, so we couldn't just slap it back up, especially not without a building permit. So, the association got together, and voted to buy a new sign. We also got a new president and board, one who was more interested in making changes and doing it right, instead of DIYing to save money.
We spent time tracking down a contractor, voting on the design, and within a couple of weeks, we had progress. It was looking good! But then the actual wooden sign was much smaller looking than the blue print. The contractor had made a mistake, a fight ensued, and he walked.
So now we have a blank wooden sign at the front of our development, as we wait to find yet another contractor to finish the job. And during the meeting other residents started arguing back and forth about what the sign should look like, how much they wanted to spend, etc. It's been extraordinarily frustrating. If we ever wanted to sell this condo, we'd really have to get the association in line, because this is just one example of deferred maintenance.
It's taught me a lot, and made me realize that buying into an association was a mistake (for me). I like to get things done. If a problem like this had happened at my single family home, it certainly wouldn't be 10 months and counting before it was fixed.
If I had to do it all over again, one, I wouldn't have bought in the winter, because some of the issues (a badly beat up parking lot, scraggly, dead branches on a lot of the trees) weren't apparent until the spring. I'd also have requested some past meeting minutes from association meetings. The outdated bylaws didn't give us a clear picture of how things were run. The association's financials looked good, but now that we're more involved, we realize that a lot of that is because no one wants to spend any money.
Things are looking up, though. The association agrees that some of this deferred maintenance is coming back to haunt us, and is more expensive than taking care of it the first time. I do have high hopes that things will improve, and that by this time next year, we will have a much nicer place to live. But in the meantime, things look a little old and shabby, and I feel very powerless to do anything about it.

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