CAI Releases New Reserve Study Standards for Community Associations

By Dawn Bauman
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Community associations should incorporate preventive maintenance and structural inspections into their reserve studies—the important budget planning tools that identify the components a community association is responsible for maintaining or replacing, indicate the status of the reserve fund, and provide a stable and equitable funding plan to offset anticipated future major common area expenditures. The recommendations are part of new Reserve Study Standards released by Community Associations Institute (CAI), the leading international authority on community association governance, management, and education.

Following the tragic partial collapse of Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Fla., two years ago, CAI convened working groups to discuss public policy solutions to promote safer and more financially sound buildings. The working groups developed CAI’s Condominium Safety Public Policy Report, recommending reserve studies and reserve funding for all community associations as well as structural inspections and maintenance. CAI subsequently convened a task force to review and update the Reserve Study Standards to incorporate maintenance and structural integrity into the reserve study process.

“One of the primary responsibilities of a community association board is to protect, maintain, and enhance the assets of the association,” says Thomas M. Skiba, CAE, CAI’s chief executive officer. “CAI believes that a proactive preventive maintenance plan and ongoing periodic structural inspections should be incorporated into the community’s long-term planning. This will allow communities to properly evaluate and budget for the ongoing care of the common area components as well as the structural safety of the community.”

CAI urges community associations, also known as condominium communities, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives, to regularly update their reserve studies to reflect ongoing changes to components and financial needs. These multiyear plans help communities anticipate and responsibly prepare for ongoing preventive maintenance, periodic structural inspections, as well as for the timely repair and replacement of common area components such as roofs, roads, mechanical equipment, and other portions of the community’s common elements.

Originally published in 1998, CAI’s Reserve Study Standards provide a consistent set of terminology, calculations, and expectations so reserve study providers and those they serve together can build a safe and successful future for millions of community association homeowners.

The Reserve Study Standards provide guidance and methodology in the preparation of reserve studies for all varieties of community association ownership types and physical configurations. These standards establish the procedures from conceptual development through report preparation. Consistent application of these standards will minimize differences in component selection and funding recommendations by different reserve study providers. As a result, association leaders will receive consistent, credible, and defensible reserve studies.

Access the new Reserve Study Standards at explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues. Have a question or comment about your community association? Submit here for consideration:

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Dawn Bauman

Dawn Bauman, Chief Strategy Officer. As CAI’s lead advocate for federal and state legislative and regulatory affairs, Dawn works with volunteer leaders throughout the country serving on CAI legislative action and government affairs committees to advocate for strong and sensible public policy for America’s community associations.