I share a roof with those in the town homes my own town home in Issaquah is attached to. How do I re-roof it?
My first thought is about the management of the complex. In many cases, common areas are covered by your community dues, and those funds are carefully allocated to take care of projects that need to be done periodically. That money can go to a number of things, from grounds maintenance to roof replacement. Usually, though, you would have to get so much involved in any such roof replacement, other than to be be informed that work on the building is scheduled, and for you to be aware of it. On the other hand, if there is a physical problem with the roof now, you should immediately get in touch with the community maintenance people. If it is a repair that is required, they will take care of it. If your maintenance people are negligent, then you need to talk to the property management team. In any event, it’s unlikely the roof work is your direct responsibility.
In a town house, where walls, walkways, roofs and sometimes entry points are shared, there is a certain economy in running costs. After all, a common wall also means the cost of that wall would have been shared among two owners. Parking spaces, while nice to have extra of them for party night or other events, are not needed in great numbers by everyone every day. One day, you get the use of five extra common area parking spots; the next week, it’s your neighbor’s birthday, and she gets to use those same common area parking spots. The ‘community’ effect is what makes town home living more affordable and less personal work. On the other hand, it depends a lot on the good will and behavior of neighbors. A little extra care, attention and diplomacy is usually required to make life decent for everyone in the community.
Living with neighbors in a shared community
It feels like more and more people are seeking out a ‘shared’ way to live. As the entire job market is changing in its nature, and adult children are living with the parents at a rate not seen in a hundred years, people are looking at community living spaces as a way forward. While a few decades ago, the “American Dream” was to own your own big house, fully detached, and in perfect privacy from neighbors, today it is a lot different. There isn’t the same levels of disposable income there was thirty of forty years ago. Now, people are working longer hours for the same pay. The ‘two parents working full time’ phenomenon is more and more common. Either a couple can work harder and harder for that big house on the hill, or adjust their lifestyles and expectations perhaps to have a more manageable road to walk. That means more and more people living in urban settings, and more and more in one type of shared accommodation or another.
It means having to compromise, to negotiate, to work well with others. Today, people are getting more involved with their community members, getting involved in making contributions to the running of such groups, in an effort to make them work better for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for such community contribution, but if you are prepared to invest a little of your time and energy helping your town house community work well, you might end up with a better result for your own needs and wishes.
A shared roof is a shared responsibility
Even if you are living in a detached house, with neighbors either side of you, you may all have a need for a good fencing installation. Perhaps it’s your dog that’s tearing up your neighbor’s cabbages, or your neighbor’s cat doing its business among your lettuces. Or it might be a simple question of security and liability. If you have a swimming pool in your back yard, for example, most cities will oblige you to inhibit accidental death by unsupervised toddlers, for instance, wandering in and drowning before anyone notices. So, there are always liability issues with your property, no matter where you live. The key is, to develop a communicative relationship with your neighbors no matter where you are. They need you, and you need them. By the time a roof problem surfaces, you already know who you have that common interest with, and reaching out to them is easier.
Keep your community dues up-to-date
It’s easy to believe the monthly dues you pay to your town home management company is money down the drain, but when an issue arises, you’ll be glad you did. Anywhere you live close to other people, the potential for even small conflict rises. Having someone to call in the event of an emergency is critical. I have to believe, those community members who pay their dues on time will get the ear of the management crew faster.
Even in rental properties, there is a certain amount of cooperation expected. Paying rent on time means being on the ‘good list’ of renters that the property management work with every day. Keeping the place a little bit tidier, too, sets a good example and gives you that good feeling for being a community contributor.
Don’t wait for a roof leak to take action
Community property management teams, if they have experience, know that maintenance keeps costs down in the long run. Power washing all of the roofs in the property, and treating them thoroughly in the process, is essential to maintaining the long life of the roofs they are obliged to take care of.
If you can see that the roof you share with your neighbors needs attention, start a conversation, and get well versed in where your own responsibilities lay. Don’t let yourself be surprised by a big repair bill that somehow wasn’t covered by your insurance or your property management people. If it turns out that any roof replacement on your property must be paid for by both you and your neighbor, it’s better to find that reality out now, and not wait until water is pouring from the ceiling on your bowl of Corn Flakes in the middle of a rain storm.
More next week!