When to Get a Professional’s Opinion

The first skill I harnessed very early in my career is to be extremely humble.

As property managers we are often looked upon to wear several different hats regardless of our training in a particular field.

How many times has it gone through my mind that ‘I am not an engineer’ or ‘I haven’t actually paved a driveway myself?’

At our company we are very fortunate to have a condominium manager who is also a licensed Civil Engineer.

At times some of our Boards as well as owners believe that because we have this valuable team member that we should also be able to answer every technical answer under the sun.

If you are not 100% sure — or even if you are — it is always good practice to involve someone who is skillfully trained to give the insight required, and this will also cover any liability the property manager may be faced when making a decision that is out of your scope of work.

On some occasions corporations Boards are frugal which begs the question I hear all too often ‘do we really need to spend this money on an opinion?’

The answer should always be yes!!

There is a ton of responsibility bestowed upon property managers, but nobody should put themselves in a compromising position.

This can also alleviate some of the pressures the Board and property managers may receive from angry home owners who may be faced with a special assessment on top of the monthly common element assessments.

We are currently working with a corporation that discovered last spring that there was significant structural damage to an elevated concrete walkway and staircase.

Once we identified that this was out of our scope of work the first item on the agenda was to consult with a structural engineer, even after our in house expert had a look and mentioned that this was not a civil engineer work and we had to call in an expert.

The structural engineer gave an initial estimate of $350,000 for the entire project. We all know that these quotes tend to be on the low side, and I was not very surprised when the contractors came back with an additional $85,000 to complete all the work.

Asking an expert for his professional opinion alleviated some additional stress on the Board of Directors, as well as my firm, and provided answers to the questions the owners would ultimately have.

Ultimately it is inevitable for the `”%&$`to run downhill and everyone to start pointing fingers when a special assessment is given to owners. But I feel we protected the unit owners, the Board of Directors and my firm by being extremely diligent with our process and practice of getting the professional opinions when we didn’t have the answers.

Be good and always get a professional’s opinion even if you feel you are only 99% confident.


Michael Feherty, RCM, is President of Feherty Property Management Inc. and serves on ACMO’s Board of Directors.