All Aboard With The Condo Board!

It’s those small, easy-to-miss changes at your condominium that’s what keeps the Board up at night.

But some of those small changes can make all the difference in the long run…


It’s seemingly so simple, but this is what a good condominium board of directors spends most of it’s time on.

The large-ticket items are always there, but overseeing the day-to-day nuances can have a larger financial affect in the long run.

In my example at Vu Condos, the glass on the walls near the moving elevator continuously gets chipped, scratched, or completely smashed, and it’s getting redundant for the condominium corporation to continuously play for the repair.  At what point does it become more efficient to replace the glass?

It depends on your time horizon, I suppose.  If you determined that you’d break-even after 25 years, then most condo boards likely wouldn’t replace the glass.  Most people don’t live in a condo for 25-years, in fact, I find most of today’s buyers are only there for 3-4 years and could care less about a few hundred dollars in repairs versus several thousand.

But if you determined that you could break even after, say, 4-5 years, then it makes sense no matter who you are, and how long you’re living there.

I recall a situation a few years ago when I was on a different board where we spent about $1,000 to replace light bulbs, since the government gave us a $500 credit, and it would save us about $500/year in electricity.  Our break-even point was only a year, and we were getting money from the government – which is always nice!

Serving on the Board of Directors is NOT a committment of one 3-hour meeting, once per month.  If this is the impression you have, then you simply can’t begin to comprehend the amount of work that goes into running a “home” for five-hundred people.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: join the board of directors for one year.  You’ll learn more about condos than you ever thought possible, and you’ll have a new appreciation for every facet of the building and how it’s run – including the odd piece of broken glass…


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  1. New Buyer says:

    Being on a condo board is definitely a thankless job.

    Why is moving done through the lobby area? I can’t imagine the logic behind that, especially in a building live Vu where moving is done frequently. In my building, the moving elevator has both a front and rear door, with the rear door opening onto a dedicated moving & loading room.

  2. JC says:

    I agree that every condo owner should get involved on the board at least once. It’d give everyone a clearer idea of the expenses and actual work involved. It was a real eye-opener for me. (especially seeing how most trades gouge when they realize a condo corp is involved)

    Sadly, for most, its much easier to sit back and criticize those who are trying to do the work.

    Yes, there are politics involved (where in life isn’t there to some degree?), but if you’re not happy with the way things are run, put up or shut up, I say.

  3. IanC says:

    Our property manager noticed that we could pay lump sums towards the mortgage that our developer holds on the guest suite. We started paying interest after registration, and it was higher back then – about 8%.

  4. Ralph Cramdown says:

    Geez, this is just so wrong, which isn’t to say it isn’t what happens.

    I’ve been known to make extremely short term investments (hours, sometimes) in companies with long investment time horizons (pipelines, railroads, REITs). But I wouldn’t go near them with a ten foot pole if I thought management’s investment time horizon wasn’t commensurate with the life of the assets in question. Managing an asset according to the investor’s time horizon rather than the asset’s is so shortsighted, as it assumes you’ll be able to sell to another investor who won’t notice that you’ve been cheap.

    I much prefer the apocryphal story of the oak beams of New College, Oxford.

  5. David Poon says:

    So…Are you on the VU board yet? It’d be nice to have automatic door openers (the handicap ones) in the basement parking entrances to the building. And 24/hour access to the gym changing rooms every time hot water goes down.