Independence in the Reserve Study process means freedom from control or influence. Independence means the Reserve Study professional is able to provide their complete findings and recommendations without interference. Common problems with lack of independence are when management influences the size of Reserve contributions (trying to make their budget or financial oversight “look good”), when an individual or the Board influences when projects occur (in an attempt to save money or press a personal agenda). Taking independence to the extreme, suggesting the Reserve Study professional perform their job in an absolute vacuum (avoiding all aid or assistance), is counterproductive to the Reserve Study process.
Examples of comments we may not use are: “We don’t plan to replace the carpet for two more years”, or “We’ll just wait until we see deck problems and special assess at that time”, “Don’t you just hate the color of the wood trim”, “The Board needs their Reserve contributions to drop a bit to meet their election promises”, etc. We apply our experience, expertise, and National Reserve Study Standards to give the association what they paid for – an independent evaluation of their physical assets, the strength of their Reserve Fund, and a recommended Reserve Funding Plan.
So if we don’t incorporate all your suggestions about when projects should happen, how much things should cost, which components should (or should not) appear in the Reserve Study, or where you’d like to see the Reserve contributions go (up or down), don’t take it personally. We’re just doing our job of giving you the independent expert opinion you paid for!
By Robert M. Nordlund, PE, RS