As roofing contractors, we are very active with community associations and property managers. We have relationships dealing directly with owners, board members and property managers alike. Often times we work for a general contractor who also happens to be the property manager.
There are some who take the position that the property manager/general contractor combination creates a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, in any business, there can be cases of fraud and inappropriate business practices. It is understandable that those outside of the management/contractor relationship can be suspicious. We ourselves have been asked about our relationships with management or board members. Is there preferential treatment? Are there favors or exchange of gifts? Can management be an impartial agent?
Community associations require many different types of professional services. Each association board has its own personality and philosophy that determines what level of service they require from management and vendors. There are associations that are very hands-on and will be a la carte in their selection of services from their management company. Then there are those who require a full service management company that will provide general contracting services. All associations will require the services of a contractor at some time. High level, commercial grade projects with multiple trades may require a general contractor.
There are benefits in working with a management/contractor combination. Bundled services can often bring better pricing and value. An established relationship with a quality contractor is critical in times of emergency. It is important to note that a management firm that does not operate as a general contractor can be perfectly capable of handling an association’s contracting needs. There can be advantages in bypassing the general contractor. Direct control will allow you to choose and manage your own subcontractors. This can benefit quality and cost control.
Whatever path an association chooses for their contracting needs it is important to establish a relationship with their contractor(s). The relationship must have trust and integrity. You will pay a premium for quality contractors. Excellence in materials, workmanship and guarantees do not always come with the cheapest price. Demand workmanship excellence. It is very rare that a project fails or requires repair because of manufacturing defects. Demand safety. There should be no second thought to protection of person or property. Demand accountability. Do not let your contractor’s promises become excuses. Choose a contractor who can meet these demands. You will have made the right choice.