HOA Hazards: Combatting the difficulties of working for Homeowner's Associations (HOA's)

Jun 22, 2023

          If you are an asphalt and concrete contractor, you can relate to the extra pressure of running a successful project inside of an HOA. I have heard of contractors purely avoiding this sector because working for HOA’s comes with too many difficulties. A lot of these difficulties comes from dealing with…homeowners. Believe it or not, homeowners can be extremely difficult to work with and please when you are doing work near their property. I have had homeowners scream obscenities at our crews for working at 12:00 PM because our equipment was “too loud.” I have had homeowner go around our barricades and drive through fresh @sealmaster liquid road, because they needed to get into their house. I have also had a homeowner threaten to sue us for towing their vehicles that were in our work area when they were properly notified well in advance to move before work commenced. You run in to a lot of "Karens" as the kids say nowadays. People are the biggest reason why HOA projects are difficult to combat. Here are a few ways we have been able to successfully run these kinds of projects.

             If you are working with an HOA, you could be working for the association directly or you could be working for a community manager who represents the HOA. Bottom line is you must know how to communicate the project details properly. This starts with creating a clear scope of work. The scope should include sitemaps, photos, and descriptions. After all, the people you are working for are homeowners where many of them have no construction background (besides the engineer who has been retired for 20 years, of course..). We have found that using very simple and easy terminology when creating the scope helps build trust because they can understand what we are proposing to do. The last thing the board wants to do is to approve a project without understanding what is going to take place and how it will affect the other residents. If you know anything about an HOA, you know that homeowners will complain and scrutinize the board for the smallest mistakes or details missed.

             Communicating project details such as phases, start date(s) & time(s), irrigation shut off needs, trash can pick-up days, and many others is a lot to coordinate with the board and all of the residents inside of the neighborhood. It is simple, the more you communicate, the better the project will turn out. Inevitably, you will have one or two residents who “never got anything” or forgot that the project was taking place. But for the most part, you can minimize these minor inconveniences by providing the board or community manager with your own flyers that they can distribute or that you can distribute for them. These flyers should include phasing maps with colors, the scope of work, when the vehicles need to be out of the work zone and when they can return, and contact information if they have any problems (be careful on this last one). Traditional flyers have done us wonders in running successful projects. If the community manager suggests “just an email is fine,” you need to convince them otherwise. Since taking the extra effort to ensure we or the managers place flyers on every door or car, we have noticed a HUGE reduction in jobsite issues for HOA projects. Here is an example of a flyer we can use.

             The last way to ensure a successful project is to put extra effort into keeping the work areas clean and secure. The last thing you need is to leave a shovel or stick of rebar laying out in the road causing a parent to run over it and damage their vehicle while they are taking their kids to soccer practice. Aside from safety reasons, most homeowners want their communities and properties to always look nice and tidy. Construction is messy, but if you can reduce the messiness, you will make the homeowners happy. And if the homeowners are happy, then the board is happy, if the board is happy then your community manager is happy. It is a domino effect. The homeowners are your actual customers. Keep your sites as tidy as possible. The details matter the most with these kinds of projects.

             The HOA sector has a ton of potential. There are a lot of great HOA boards and community managers who want to work with great contractors, as much as you want to work with great communities. The sector has played a huge role in our paving company’s success, but it has been filled with many learning lessons. By defining clear scopes of work, creating project commencement flyers, and keeping the work zones tidy, you will be able to successfully combat the HOA sector. 

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