If your association has landscaped common areas, then you should have a grounds maintenance (landscaping) contract for the association in place. The key to being successful long-term with any landscaping plan, and financial investment, is to start out with a good plan.
Start with a request for proposal (RFP) from the board of directors or landscape committee. When service providers are going to bid on your work, using an RFP provides them with the scope and frequency of work to be performed. An RFP will also clarify how grounds supplies and materials will be provided and when.
A request for proposal is vital as it ensures that all proposals will be based on the exact same specifications. When an RFP is not used, pricing can be all over the place, as can the work specifications included in the bids received from the service providers. Be sure you are comparing like bids and you understand what you are getting from the service provider by having an RFP.
All associations should use service providers that are licensed and insured, especially if they are providing pesticide applications and other chemicals for turf management. Don’t take a chance on uninsured and unlicensed service providers, as doing so can be more costly in the end.
Once the service provider is selected, a contract term should be clearly defined and entered into for the protection of both parties. We recommend two- to three-year contracts because it will take at least one year to get everything operating smoothly.
When making decisions and moving forward, if your association has all-inclusive contracts with vendors that also provide supplies and materials, then those vendors need to provide documentation along with the invoices when supplies and materials are used.
Be certain that all work and performance schedules are clearly defined in writing. Your association should have an annual calendar of events for fertilizing, laying of mulch material, and other ongoing landscaping maintenance needs. Be sure to share that schedule with your membership as well. It is helpful if everyone involved is on the same page when it comes to the work that needs to be done to keep all common areas looking great.
Any and all schedules should clarify if the landscaper and contract provide irrigation repair, maintenance and winterization. Proper care of all seasonal systems will ensure that they continue working and last longer.
Have your service provider give an estimate for the services and landscape materials for the upcoming budget year. Although estimates should have been provided in the RFP, unexpected expenses can occur. A community under development will have increased expenses as new sections are developed. When written prices are submitted for the subsequent year, it is easier to identify expenses not included in the contract, what needs to be saved for, and which line items are under budget for the year-to-date.
Throughout the contract’s term, your professional community manager will perform regular landscape walk-throughs and inspections with the service provider. When these occur, any problems or issues can be quickly identified and communicated.
If your association is managed by a professional association management company, clarify who is the contact person for any landscape needs. This can be either the community manager or a landscape committee representative. Just be clear who should be contacted and who has the authority to oversee any landscaping-related questions.
If you are interested in implementing these recommendations for your property owners association, a professional management company, such as CAMS, can provide guidance. We can oversee the entire landscaping process for your association, from proposal to long-term care.
Mike Stonestreet is a 26-year veteran of the professional HOA management industry who has achieved one of the highest education-based designations in the field, that of Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Community Association Management Services (CAMS) has been a leading association management company since its inception in 1991. CAMS is a trusted provider of management services for more than 265 associations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. To find out how CAMS can benefit your community, call (910) 256-2021, email [email protected], or visit www.CAMSmgt.com.
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