This information is posted for those who attended the workshop on financial practices and reserves at the National Cohousing Conference in Durham NC in May of 2015.
The first section is about online resources. The documents that can be downloaded are in the next section.
Reserve Study Resources Online
Searching web resources can be very helpful. This is only a selection of the more comprehensive.
A large reserve study firm that works with reserve specialists nationally. The website ncludes a Q&A that covers many topics, most responses from lawyers. Also has a newsletter on a specific topic an occasional basis—more like an opinion piece than many newsletters. An excellent resource. You can also contract a study through them.
Association Reserves also has a Do-It-Yourself Reserve Study Kit. Nothing will replace having a construction engineer or construction specialist look over your facilities with you and point out problems, but this can be very useful if you can’t afford a full study, are updating of figures from an onsite study, or are a new community with a component list based on construction documents. Association. You construct your component list (no small task), enter the data online, and Association Reserves does the financial calculations.
Most resources on reserve studies are written in such noncommittal language that they effectively say nothing. The California Guidelines are an exception. They are extremely detailed and well documented. Each state and each situation is subject to different laws, but following the best practices can only benefit your community. Just because you don’t have to do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. California Guidelines has the most complete information I’ve found for under ~$600.
Another commercial site with good Q & A pages.
An association of and for HOAs. Their last publication on reserve studies was one of the very cautious and thus not particularly helpful, but the members of local chapters can be very helpful in recommending a local Reserve Study Specialist and sharing other information.
The newsletter of the Homeowners Association Industry. Another excellent site full of information. More legal information here than facilities-related. Problems HOAs have with residents, defective materials, difficulty getting owners to support improvements, latest bank requirements, changes in laws, court decisions, etc. Residents of self-managed communities are instant professionals. This site will give you a taste of what might be in front of you.
And what to do with all the information about your facilities:
A reserve study is useful for managing facilities and you need somewhere to track that information. In addition to a spreadsheet (example posted online), Takoma Village uses a Wiki to store information about the facilities. It is hosted on Google Sites, which has an excellent interface that is as easy to use as a word processer—a simple word processor at that.
This is a demonstration copy. Much information has been deleted in order to protect the privacy of the community and its residents. The wiki has now been in use for about 6 years and has become a fixture for keeping track of anything related to the facilities–bids, vendor information, internet service and settings, phone lines, HVAC maintenance, etc. Everything.
The residents making the entries are not writers and are not particularly interested in online files. They immediately found it easy to maintain and useful. If it had been begun before move-in, it would be an even more useful source of information.
The Reserve Study Explained by Sharon Villines
Reserve Studies and Affordability, article in Communities Magazine, 2012 by Sharon Villines in Communities Magazine, 2012.
Reserve Study Graphs, One a projection based on no data, and one based on a real study.
Spreadsheet constructed from the Takoma Village 2006 Reserve Study. The explanation is on the spreadsheet.
California Reserve Study Guidelines. More informative for homeowners than the National Standards.
Sample Reserve Policy by Gary Porter, CPA.