Re: Reserves study
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 12:15:20 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 14, 2021, at 10:25 PM, Bonnie Fergusson via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> We ghave been working with a professional Reserve Study company for 20 years. 
>  It’s been very useful.  We have them come out every 3 years and the other 
> years we send updated info to them and they do the number crunching and make 
> a recommendation how much we should put into our reserve account each year.

We have had reserve studies done the same way since we moved in in 2000. We had 
an excellent person who was detail oriented. An architect specializing in green 
architecture, he also gave us lots of advice about what was worth doing and 
what not, plus information about the industry. He spent 2-3 hours with several 
people who walked around with him or his colleagues as they looked at 
everything and we asked questions. He pointed out things and explained what was 
happening with the one sump pump that was collecting mineral deposits, etc. He 
also did 100 year projections adn included general estimates for wiring and 
pipes. It was a full study of everything with maximum numbers. His estimates 
were always higher that what we spent so we were confident of our savings.

On the basis of that experience I advocated strongly for communities to do 
reserve studies by reserve study specialists. That is was not only good for 
savings and predictions but also for understanding your property. He would also 
explain where we were out of code.

THEN we got new residents who thought we needed a fresh look. What if he was 
missing things someone else would see, etc. It was a reasonable argument but I 
couldn’t imagine that there would be a more thorough person. We got bids and 
example studies from 4-5 other firms. Chose one. When he came out, every 
question we asked he said “Ask your vendor.” He told us nothing and I don’t 
think he knew anything. He took pictures! He just walked around taking 

When the study came he had eliminated at least 25% of the items. For example, 
we had ~10 sump pumps. He included 2 because it would be unlikely that in any 
one year that more than 2 would burn out. Many other things he said, “Well, we 
don’t include that.” It was not helpful and in fact was scary because we had 
spent so much money and had no faith in his projections. Almost everything was 

After that experience I understood why other communities were not finding their 
studies useful and didn’t understand why I thought they were.

Long story short — there are those who do thorough reserve studies and 
recommend optimum protection. And there are those who do studies that are 
minimally adequate so the board won’t be sued but also will not have to save 
very much making their residents happy.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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