Being a condo and co-op board member can be a tough job. On top of understanding local laws (like the impending Local Law 97), attending board meetings, annual budgeting, project management, and more, you’re responsible for finding the most reliable, top-notch vendors to maintain that quality of building life you and your owners/shareholders expect and deserve. When looking for such vendors, here are four key things to watch out for:
1. Reputation and credentials
Vendors can make your life a dream or a nightmare. You’ve heard horror stories - maybe even experienced them yourself - the vendor that never shows up, never answers the phone, blows past their deadlines, and more. But for all the bad apples, there are many amazing vendors out there. They’ll quickly respond to questions or concerns you have. They’ll communicate well. And most importantly - get the job done well, in the right amount of time.
You’re seeking vendors with stellar track records and reliable references that will give you peace of mind. To ensure a job well done, take the time to look for the right background and experience (similar jobs in similar buildings as yours), check reviews (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and ask for references (particularly from building owners like yourself).
Be sure to consult with your property manager (who knows what and who to watch out for) as well as your other board members.
Your potential vendors submit bids - and one of them has submitted a bid with a ridiculously low price tag. Your gut tells you, “This must be too good to be true.” Another bid seems unreasonably expensive. How do you figure out which price is “right”? You can’t judge a book by its cover - fully review the scope of work they’ve put together. Does one vendor provide a detailed and thoughtful scope of work - maybe now the most expensive bid makes a lot more sense now. Or maybe, the least expensive bid is very clear and to the point, while the other has a vague non-specific list without details.
A good rule of thumb: always request multiple bids (which a good property management partner like Daisy will do for you), then compare prices and services to ensure you get the exact service you need at the right price.
3. Licenses and insurance
This is a big one. You’d think that every vendor would have all the necessary licenses, insurance, and certifications required to do their job. And usually that’s the case - vendors will do the job - whether it’s delivering new furniture, renovating your building’s rooftop, fixing a bathroom leak, etc. - with no issues whatsoever. But, sometimes things go awry, so both you and your vendor should be prepared for anything. Making sure they have all the relevant licenses and insurance will help prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a total disaster. The best way to make sure they’re meeting all the requirements is to get the building’s insurance requirements from your property manager. By choosing vendors that have crossed all t’s and dotted all i’s, you’ll know all parties, especially your board and building, are protected.
4. Contracts and Agreements
This goes hand in hand with tip #3. Before signing any vendor contract or agreement, be sure to read (or have someone with a law degree read) the document cover to cover - so there’s no surprises down the road. And if you’re doing personal work within the building - or rather, your unit, make sure you’ve reviewed the building alteration guidelines, which your manager should provide you with.
For the majority of us New Yorkers we share our building with many neighbors. And what happens in one apartment or in common areas could have a negative impact on the lives of everyone in the building. To avoid headaches and heartaches for all, make sure:
- Vendor contracts list the building, board, and property manager as additional insureds.
- You obtain a copy of the certificate of insurance. Keep in mind, a contract that doesn’t list you as an additional insured means the certificate doesn’t cover you as an additional insured either. Language matters here.
- The vendor is liable for their actions on your property, not you or your building.
When reviewing a vendor contract, the primary policies to look for are General Liability, Worker’s Compensation, and an umbrella policy. But more than that, the main thing to ensure is that there are no exclusions and that you’re protected. Your property manager should connect you with the right team to review all contracts and policies on your behalf so you’re always in control and well-protected.
Doing your due diligence is key to finding great vendors you trust to come in and elevate your building life. Careful consideration of the above factors will help your vendor experience be a dream (rather than a nightmare). And the best part is, you don’t have to do this alone. By partnering with a trusted property management company to manage the vendor process for you, you and your board can breathe easy knowing you’re in control of every step of the process. If you have any questions or want to learn more about how Daisy can help you live your best building life, visit us here.