It’s a fact that landscape maintenance of common grounds constitutes the largest single expense for most communities. That being said most management companies don’t truly understand landscape maintenance or installation. Sure they can see when flower beds have weeds in them or when a project isn’t complete but there is a lot more to it than that. Landscaping is seasonal and time sensitive. Poor decisions may have to be lived with for several seasons before they are truly remedied and at tremendous cost. When it comes to turf and plantings a stitch in time does save nine.
So why do manager’s tend to gloss over the details and pick the cheapest bid? First of all, it’s not the manager’s decision, they can only recommend a course of action to the board. Secondly Boards are comprised of volunteers, who may or may not understand the full weight of landscape investments. It’s much easier for the manager and the Board to find what they feel are a number of credible landscapers and get bids. This usually results in a fairly speedy process that a lot of times leaves out crucial details.
Most Boards fail to realize that many landscapers rarely look at specifications in detail. They see similar clients they already have and typically bid based on what they have to do to squeak by. It’s not uncommon for landscapers to plan on only having a particular contract for one season. Most contracts are very difficult to terminate in under a year and typically at significant cost to the Association when they do. It is very important not only to understand the specifications but to also be aware of the language of any contract that is signed.
Most Associations have no idea what it truly takes maintain their common elements. Every Board should have a regularly updated file that tells them exactly what their material needs are. Mulch is a huge expense to most communities but most Boards have no idea how much mulch their grounds require. It is even less likely that their manager has these figures. It is always a good to idea to know how many acres need to maintained from both basic mowing to how many acres need to be fertilized. A lot of the fog is removed from the bid process when these are known quantities. It can also give real insight into whether or not a contractor truly understands what they are bidding.
You can only expect what you inspect. If you feel like your Association is not getting the level of service contracted for then odds are you aren’t. Contractors are always pushing to do as much as possible as cheaply as possible. I don’t want to paint them in a bad light but these are the facts, especially when they may have under priced their proposal. A good management company will inspect the work and understand where deficiencies lie. There is nothing worse than paying for a $75,000 contract but getting $35,000 worth of service.
R and P Property Managers, LLC has a unique approach to managing landscape maintenance. Our principles have an intimate understanding of the industry and what it takes to get the job done right. In addition, we offer a Custom Landscape Audit as a service to our clients. In essence we do a comprehensive take off on the property and break down the necessary materials, labor and costs. From this we create a budget that considers market rate labor and materials. There is no question as to what the association should be paying to get the job done per specifications. From this a detailed specification can be written and then compared against incoming proposals from contractors. Contact us to day if you feel like your landscape investment is running awry.