Re: Association Reserves questions
From: Pat Little (
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2006 17:31:09 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Kevin,
Thank you for you thoughtful reply, and my apologies for not responding
sooner, I have been out of town and over busy lately.
What you say about adding in the small stuff seems like good advice - we're
going to have to pay for it anyway, so why not save up ahead of time?

-----Original Message-----
From: Oliveau [at] [mailto:Oliveau [at]] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 2:06 PM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Association Reserves questions

Hey Pat,
    Last year we raised our Catoctin Creek Village  HOA dues to account for 
Reserve Fund contributions.  My answers to your  questions are inserted
Hope this helps,
-Kevin Oliveau
In a message dated 5/17/2006 9:00:09 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
redtail [at] writes:

- How do  we prepare the members for the big increase? We know many of the
"logical"  reasons for it, but I'm sure it's going to be an emotional
discussion. It  would help us to be able to show what percentage of the
annual budget other  Cohousing communities pay for reserves. If you're
willing to provide this  information, please also include number of units,
age of project, whether  urban or rural, and if you too are catching up with
previously under-funded  reserves.
We are a rural project of 18 homes, but only 9 of the 18 lots have been
thus far.  We decided to increase HOA dues to make the  necessary 
contributions to the Reserve Fund.  But we calculated  the amount as if all
18 lots were 
sold.  That is, everyone paid 1/18th  of the necessary Reserve payments.  
Given that we really only have 9  households contributing, that means we are
making half the necessary  contributions.  Fortunately, we also had some
funds  which we transferred to the Reserve fund.  That put us  about 18 
months ahead to begin with.  The rationale is that as we sell  the remaining
lots, the Capital Reserve contributions will come up to the  correct level.
hope is that the initial contribution will keep us  from falling behind
we sell that 18th lot.
People were not happy about the dues increase, but I think it helped that
explained in detail what the Reserve Fund was for and we presented a
 list of items to-be-replaced.  I also told a story about another HOA I  
lived in which didn't have any reserve funds and ended up tripling dues with
special assesment when the pool and they playgrounds all needed  to be
in the same year.  The response seemed to be, "let's look at  the rest of
budget to see if there's other areas where we can save  money."

- We have a long list of potential reserves components, around  60. Should
we itemize the smaller things in our reserves study, which  requires effort
to estimate life and replacement costs for each of them, or  should we
instead lump them in a 'general' reserves category to cover  the
(unspecified) small stuff (and gradually increase the funding over time  to
match inflation)? Or should we just handle this via 'general  maintenance'
our annual operating budget?

I wouldn't put in things like vacuum cleaners.  But I would put in  bathroom

cabinets, plumbing fixtures, exterior doors and windows, mirrors,  mowers,
appliances.  Some of this stuff is may seem small, but when you  add it all 
up, and it's usually a lot more that you would have guessed.   You should
budget for General Maintenance, but that's different from  the Reserve fund.

General Maintenance is painting the fence when it needs  it.  The Reserve
is there to pay for a new fence when the old  one collapses into a heap.
Your Reserve Fund should make assumptions about what inflation will be, and

what kind of interest you can earn.  A spreahsheet is very helpful for
all the calculations.  Those numbers will have a big impact on the  amount
need to contribute each month.  Also, if you don't actually put  the reserve

funds into an interest-bearing account, you'll have to increase  your 
contributions accordingly.
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