Should Your HOA Consider Painting in the Rain?

Money-Saving Opportunity for HOAs

The onset of the rainy season presents cost-saving opportunities for homeowners associations faced with tight maintenance budgets. The economic principle of supply-and-demand creates this savings opportunityt: the construction companies that maintain your properties are less busy in the winter and spring than in the summer and fall. Confronted with the prospect of losing key personnel, many contractors offer slow-season discounts—intentionally or otherwise—in an effort to keep their companies intact for the peak seasons ahead. In fact, in trades such as painting and roofing, where rain directly affects scheduling, the busiest months of the year are not necessarily the driest ones, but those leading up to the winter, as procrastinators try to complete projects by year's end.

Projects Suited for the Off-Season

Implementing a painting program during the winter is an organizational challenge, with its inherent delays, canceled appointments, and protracted homeowner inconvenience; however, many other common area projects can be tackled with little homeowner involvement. For example, common area surfaces such as pool house exteriors and interiors, perimeter walls, curbs, light standards, pool fencing, vehicle entry gates, mail kiosks, mailboxes, hallway interiors, and street signs can easily be painted in the winter. Since metal does not absorb water like wood components, consider painting all wrought iron surfaces in the slow season.

Competitive Bidding

Getting competitive bids on any small project for a September or October completion is nearly impossible. Call the same contractors in February and they will do cartwheels to get you a proposal. Schedule trim-only jobs, newly installed gutters and downspouts, new flashing (after a roofing project), or new fences in the winter. Make sure to let the bidders know of your intentions to schedule painting during their slow season so that they can bid accordingly.

Plan Ahead for Spring-Time Maintenance

Those associations choosing not to paint during the wet months will still benefit by using this interim period to prepare the site and perform the preliminary organization necessary for spring or summer painting. To start, proper specifications must be drafted, followed by the bidding process. Walking the job with the selected contractor in the winter will allow time for many pre-paint repairs by the paint company or other vendors:

  • dry rot repairs,
  • stucco repair and caulking,
  • ivy removal
  • wrought iron repairs.

Many decisions are often left until the last minute, creating unnecessary urgency, delays, and confusion. Color schemes and paint formulations chosen well in advance allow time for "brush-out" samples of the colors for pre-approval. Changes can then be made before actual painting begins, or paint is ordered.

Also, details attended to early, such as storage tank placement, trash disposal, and toilet facilities for the workers, assist in a smooth start to the project. Finally, maps of projected painting "routes" and schedules from the contractor, assembled in advance, greatly aid boards and management companies in providing better service to residents concerned with their personal schedules.

Along with "on paper" planning, actual preparatory work may begin on individual units (like stucco repair and caulking). Performing this work in the wet season in no way negatively affects its value, and may benefit contractors because they are free to concentrate solely on this critical component of the total project. The relative speediness in completing the preparatory work minimizes inconvenience to the homeowners. In addition advance preparation facilitates advance inspection, once again enabling contractors to make changes efficiently and properly, if necessary.

Making the Most of the Off-Season

Whatever option a board may choose, whether it is completing some projects or simply planning ahead,  sitting idly in anticipation of spring or summer does not have to be one of them. HOAs, boards, and members alike will all benefit by advance surface preparation and planning as suits each different painting project. And what's wrong with saving money at the same time?


Mike Muilenburg is a principal at Ekim Painting, Cupertino, CA. He is the chairperson of the Maintenance Resource Panel and a former member of the ECHO Board of Directors. He was the ECHO Volunteer of the Year for 2008.

Image adapted from photo by  EdalCC BY-SA 3.0

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