Frequently Asked Questions

Choose from the topics below.

Reserve Studies

What are “Adequate” Reserves?

“Adequate Replacement Reserves” is defined as a Replacement Reserve Fund and stable and equitable multi-year Funding Plan that provides for the timely execution of the association’s major repair and replacement expenses as defined by National Reserve Study Standards, without reliance on additional supplemental funding.

How do you determine the remaining useful life of a common element?

Reserve Advisors’ engineer independently determines the remaining useful life of each common element. First, we meet with management and/or board members. Our dialogue allows the engineer to gather important background information on the property. It’s also an opportunity for the property manager and/or board members to describe any problems the property is experiencing. After the meeting, the engineer performs the property inspection to record, measure and assess the current condition of each common element, looking for ‘outliers’ in condition. The engineer will pay special attention to problem areas. As part of the physical analysis, the engineer takes photos to document the condition of the common elements. Based on the physical analysis of each element, the expected life of each common element and variances from the expected conditions, the engineer estimates a remaining useful life for each. Where partial replacements and capital repair is a more cost effective solution, our recommendations can save the community thousands of dollars.

How do you determine future replacement costs?

We base our estimates of replacement costs from privately sourced data, our proprietary database, the unique conditions of your property, and our unmatched cost-engineering experience. Our privately sourced data reflects only your prevailing local labor and material costs. These costs are individually researched from the databases of R.S. Means, an authority on local union and non-union based labor and local material costs. We further include premiums for demolition, disposal, and your unique existing conditions. We also apply information from our proprietary database of thousands of actual replacement projects, many specific to your area. Our engineering expertise and local contractor information further assures the accuracy of replacement cost estimates.

Do you include inflation for future replacement costs?

Our research of inflation for buildings, systems and civil construction is a key element of Reserve Advisors comprehensive reserve study to ensuring an adequate and reasonable funding plan. We continuously research inflation for materials and construction labor in your location. We then monitor economic trends from multiple sources to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the near-term inflation rate for your community. Periodic reserve study updates will adjust this predicted rate, replacement costs and other factors to keep your reserve study and the funding plan accurate and dependable.

Do you inspect roofs?

We document observable defects in all types of roofs. Flat roofs are subject to numerous possible defects because of their potential complexity. We will inspect flat roofs where safe access (stairs or ladder permanently attached to the structure) is available. Condition defects in sloped roofs are visually observable from the ground with telescopic cameras. Common factors we consider are age, color, discoloration, exposure to sunlight, observable defects in the roofing tabs, hail damage, pitting, dimples and granular loss to the shingle.

Do you do invasive/destructive testing?

A reserve study by definition of the CAI National Standards is non-invasive and excludes destructive testing. Our comprehensive reserve study may recommend as appropriate invasive testing as part of a near-term future replacement project when the scope of the replacement project includes unknown conditions.

Do you recommend fully funding reserves?

There are four general funding strategies for funding reserves: baseline funding, threshold funding, full funding, and statutory funding. The full funding strategy is the most costly strategy of the four as it identifies the fully funded balance for each individual component and the funding required to keep the overall reserve balance at or near 100% of the combined fully funded balance of all components. With this method, associations begin fully funding for components that may not be replaced for several decades, which can result in carrying significant reserve balances year-over-year.We recommend threshold funding for most associations. This strategy aggregates all future expenditures and calculates annual reserve contributions such that the reserve balance never reaches a minimum threshold. Maintaining a minimum threshold reserve balance in any given year minimizes the risk of additional assessments. Each reserve study is individually prepared and takes into account your association’s unique characteristics, ensuring our funding recommendations maintain an adequate, not excessive, reserve balance. In Florida, threshold or even baseline funding (allowing reserves to drop to $0) is considered “fully funding” the budget as both methods provide a path (budget) for adequate funds for replacement of the reserve components, without maintaining excessive reserve balances. Fully funding the budget is often confused with maintaining a fully funded balance, but they are two very different concepts and strategies.

Does your reserve study comply with the CAI Reserve Study Standards?

Reserve Advisors fully supports CAI Reserve Study Standards. As a National Corporate member of CAI, we participate in and support numerous local CAI Chapters. It’s part of our everyday commitment to more than 370,000 community associations. Our co-founders are founding members of CAI’s Reserve Committee that established CAI’s National Standards for Reserve Study providers. If you would like to read about CAI’s National Reserve Study Standards, click here.

Do you use subcontractors to perform a reserve study?

Reserve Advisors’ Core Values only allow our using full-time dedicated engineers, not subcontractors, to conduct your reserve study. Professionalism and Accountability are key elements of our everyday commitment to each customer and eachother. Our reserve studies are a product of our attitude to see it, own it, and do it competently and professionally.

How do you determine what to include in the reserve study?

Reserve Advisors’ starts by listening to your goals in the context of our proposed reserve study and scope of common elements to include. After engagement, we request a copy of the declaration and bylaws which define the common elements and homeowner property. Further, our engineer reviews your maintenance budget and spending to understand which replacements occur as normal maintenance. Your Reserve Advisors comprehensive reserve study will list the common elements with remaining lives, common elements without definable lives otherwise known as ‘long lived elements’, maintenance, and finally property maintained by homeowners.

How long does it take to complete the reserve study?

Reserve Advisors will work to complete your reserve study within the timeframe you specify. Absent a particular timeframe, our clients receive their reserve study within four weeks of our inspection and receipt of any necessary information to complete our service.

How much does a reserve study cost?

As a fiduciary of your community, we understand your duty to demand value for the money you invest in a reserve study. Rather than ‘spending’ money on a standard reserve study, a fiduciary’s goal is to ‘invest their resources to minimize long-term costs.’ That is our common goal with each community association client as we strive to save you money with our long-term thinking on replacement solutions. Each reserve study is individually researched and written based upon the unique attributes of your community association. A quote for our reserve study service is without obligation but it all starts with our listening to your goals and our understanding the unique nature of your property.

Do we have to follow your reserve study recommendations?

Your local jurisdiction will not require that the community follow the reserve study recommendations. Several state and local statutes do require adherence to addressing the funding of reasonable reserves or disclosure of the findings of a reserve study and how the Board determined its annual reserve contribution. We recommend your community work with your management team, accountant and attorney to determine how best to fulfill the requirements of your state and local governing authorities.

Post Study Services

Can we make changes to the reserve study report?

Changes are easy when Reserve Advisors is with you every step of the way. There are 3 ways to make changes to your reserve study: 1) your engineer, 2) Excel spreadsheet, 3) ForeSite. Your engineer is always available to discuss and answer questions about the reserve study. We provide one set of complementary changes within 6 months of initial report delivery. Your reserve study comes with an Excel spreadsheet with formulas in which you can make changes on your own for ‘what if’ planning. Optionally, with ForeSite Plus, you can explore different funding plans and replacement scenarios. Make adjustments to the reserve contributions. Increase or decrease the interest and inflation rates. Adjust the timing of future capital repairs and replacements. ForeSite…brings everything together. Watch our short demo. https://youtu.be/8LdwNA5g7TI

Will you meet with the board?

Your Reserve Specialist, an engineer, is available in one of several formats: phone, web conferencing, and in-person, to discuss the results of the reserve study and to answer any questions you might have.

Will your engineer present the results of the reserve study?

Customized presentations to your needs are optionally available, typically at a special or annual meeting.

Reserve Study Updates

How often should we update a reserve study?

A reserve study update is an independent third-party health check of your common elements and available reserves. Our clients usually request a quote for an update because of changes in the reserves, property conditions, and common elements. Often, clients successfully manage their communities for years without an update but considering an update within a few years of the last study is a management best practice. A quote for a reserve study update is without obligation but it all starts with our listening to your goals and our understanding how your property and reserve balances have changed.

Does a reserve study update cost less than the original reserve study?

An update within a few years of the last study costs significantly less than the prior comprehensive service. We look for and document changes in each common element’s condition, discuss with your team changes in the level of detail and update your component inventory. Your reserve study update will be individually researched and written based upon the unique changes in your community association since our last reserve study. A quote for our reserve study update service is without obligation but it all starts with our listening to your goals and our understanding the unique nature of your property.

Other Services

What is an insurance appraisal?

An insurance appraisal from Reserve Advisors includes an on-site inspection and review of the insured buildings and structures. An ASA designated appraiser evaluates each building or structure on the property to determine a cost to reproduce or replace the buildings in new condition, all at one time. The appraisal certifies the opinion of insurance to value. Special conditions and disclosures may apply and in all cases an inventory of individual buildings and their replacement values are listed together with photographs and supporting cost estimate documents.

What is a defect survey?

A Reserve Advisors defect survey is an optional service which may be offered in conjunction with your reserve study. Clients who request this add-on service want to engage in a conversation with their legal counsel and a third-party, i.e., developer/contractor to remediate potential defects. Apart from the condition assessment included with your reserve study, the defect survey identifies possible defects with supporting photographs, description of the possible defective situation, examples of locations of visually apparent defects and guidance as to the merits of conducting invasive investigations.

What is ForeSite Basic?

ForeSite Basic comes with every reserve study and is part of our Reserve Study System. Our easy-to-use, value added platform allows you to open and read your reserve study, record ongoing comments, and record/store photographs, bid documents and other files for each common element.

What is ForeSite Plus?

ForeSite Plus is the industry-leading online reserve study solution. Start with your independent reserve study and perform multiple ‘what-if’ scenarios for easy-planning. Users can easily explore different funding plans and replacement scenarios. Make adjustments to the reserve contributions. Increase or decrease the interest and inflation rates. Adjust the timing and costs of future capital repairs and replacements. ForeSite…brings everything together.

About Reserve Advisors

Are you members of CAI?

Reserve Advisors is a National Corporate member of CAI and participates in and supports numerous local CAI Chapters. It’s part of our everyday commitment to more than 370,000 community associations. Co-founder John Poehlmann served on CAI’s national board of trustees and both John and Ted Salgado are founding members of CAI’s Reserve Committee that established CAI’s National Standards for Reserve Study providers.

How long has Reserve Advisors been in business?

Reserve studies are all we do and have been doing since 1991. Our experience is founded in dedicated account managers, specialists, management, and those who prepare individually researched reserve studies by a collaborative team of engineers from multiple disciplines. Our experience is unique and one-of-a-kind in the community association industry which demonstrates our commitment to you, the industry, and each other. We are the exception, fully engaged, 100% focused, from our first conversation to completion of the study and free support. Long-term thinking. Everyday commitment. That’s our company. That’s our promise.

What are the qualifications of your staff?

Reserve Advisors demands diversity in its workforce. We employ engineers, men, and women, who are experienced and educated in diverse engineering disciplines. Our professional team in the ‘back-office’ is equally diverse and most have bachelors, several having masters degrees with a service-oriented passion. We also have the most CAI credentialed reserve specialists.

What industries do you serve?

Since 1991, we’ve inspected thousands of buildings – from six schools in the Daniel Boone School District in Douglasville, PA to the 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago to DC Ranch, Arizona’s premier golf community. We primarily serve community associations but regularly work with clubs, non-profits, and investment properties. Contact us today to learn more about our experience and expertise with your type of property.

Where’s your nearest office?

Reserve Advisors has numerous offices strategically located in four regions: West, Great Lakes, Northeast, and Southeast. Click Here to contact us and see our locations.

Do you have references?

Every Reserve Advisors proposed reserve study includes local references as part of an ‘Experience Map’ showing the names and locations of our local clients.

What sets Reserve Advisors apart from the others?

Reserve Advisors technical competence is one of the pillars of its customer service. The need to produce reserve studies tailored to each client will always guide the evolution of our services. We go beyond traditional or standardized reserve studies which are fixed in time. Our interactive reserve study platform is an innovative, cloud-based solution for clients to use the most accurate and comprehensive report in the industry. Our clients receive remarkably simple, state-of-the-art tools to use their reserve studies on-demand in real-time.