Re: What SHOULD I be worried about?
From: Katie Henry (
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:40:34 -0700 (PDT)
At my former community, the developer gave the community a pot of money for 
common house furnishings and other miscellaneous move-in expenses. It was in 
the range of $20,000 (same developer as Sharon's community, so that amount 
would make sense). It was a good idea, since there's no way we could have 
raised that kind of money from the community right after move-in. It wasn't 
considered to be part of the reserve fund.

Our estimated budget from the developer was pretty bare-bones, covering just 
utilities, condo insurance, and a few other things. It didn't include 
maintenance contracts or reserve fund contributions, which now make up half or 
more of the annual budget, as I recall. I think these minimal budgets are 
normal in the condo world, or at least in Maryland. The condo association 
orders the reserve study and determines funding levels after move-in, so that 
figure gets added later. A lot of maintenance contracts don't kick in until a 
year or two after occupancy, so the developer would logically not include those 
costs. Also, in cohousing, there's a possibility that the community will take 
over some chores rather than vending out work, so it would be difficult for a 
developer to know what costs to include.

When we moved in, we knew our condo fees were low and would have to go up, but 
we had no idea how much. The uncertainty was hard for a lot of people. Our 
management company was useless, so we had no guidance.

If I had it to do again, I would start the budgeting process early in 
construction. I would:

(1) Collect a special assessment from the future owners well before move-in and 
commission a first pass of the reserve study so we would have early and 
reasonable estimates of reserve contributions. (I would do that as part of 
hiring a construction advocate to monitor construction on behalf of the 
community, but that's a different topic.)

(2) Get estimates for contracts for every conceivable service, including 
maintenance and repair, landscaping, and cleaning, and include those numbers in 
the budget.

(3) Have all of those contracts in place at move-in, including the optional 
ones for services like landscaping and cleaning that community members might 
handle themselves. Once everyone has moved in and workshare arrangements are in 
place (or not), the optional contracts can be discontinued if the community 
would prefer to save the money.

Katie Henry

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.