It Don’t Have To Make Sense

When I wake up in the morning with something on my mind, it either needs to be resolved or written down. This morning it was a job that I performed last year, doing an ASTM E2018-01 compliant property condition assessment as an associate for a consulting firm. I’ve done many of these before and never had a reviewer question my report product with the force, adamancy and exclusionism that he did. He was right. He didn’t have the inclination to discuss it. I was an absolute idiot for including the costs that I did. I needed to revise the Reserves for Replacement form and resubmit it before the end of the day.

Gentlefolk, there is no way to describe how that type of interaction affects me. Astrologically, I’m a Leo. I grew up remodeling houses as the bosses son. I’ve floated to the top, or left every job that I’ve ever had. Throughout my career, I’ve been self employed more often than not. And I’ve been self employed for the last 15 years. To say that I’m independent would be an understatement akin to describing a nuclear explosion blast as something similar to a cherry bomb’s.

So you’d be safe to assume that I did not decide to keep my mouth shut and do what he wanted without some doses of reality administered by my spouse. In my foggy memory of those moments, these doses were forced down my throat, in a calm and loving manner of course, while she was sitting on my chest. What I do remember clearly was her saying that I’d get paid quicker and probably do more work in the future for them if I followed directions, which, with her help, I did.

For those of you familiar with the ASTM PCA requirements, field observers (which I was) are not required to include Reserves for Replacement estimates unless requested by the client. Although it is normal to provide estimates for immediate costs or costs to fix noted deficiencies. However, (1) reserves estimates were always part of the consultant’s directions to me, (2) reserves estimate forms were provided with the project template, and (3) the reviewer’s directions to me were to remove all but one of the estimated costs.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of reserves for replacement, it simply refers to the fact that some major systems require replacement every so often and as a prudent property owner, one should be saving up for those expenses. Heat Vent and Air conditioners last 7 to 15 years depending on what part of the country they are in. Roofs last 10 years or more depending on materials. Asphalt parking lots need to be sealed and restriped every 5 years and capped with new wear surfaces around every 12 years. For most retail buildings, these are the three major items in the reserves for replacement list. And replacing smaller systems (really meaning smaller in costs like repainting) are considered more like operating costs and are anticipated elsewhere in property budgets.

Now that you all understand what reserves are and the three major systems, you’ll be as confused as I was to hear that costs for HVAC replacement were the only ones that I should have included. The roofing was an inexpensive metal panel that would likely be replaced before the HVACS. The asphalt parking lot only had 6inches of base. It was in a hole where water would seep under the pavement profile. And the asphalt thickness was substandard. All of this added up to replacing the parking lot before the roof and hvac.

I would have been happy to debate my estimates of cost and useful lives of the two excluded systems. Those could have been conservative. That was not the issue, and it makes no sense to me today why they were not included.

Should observers then, blindly and subserviently do what reviewers dictate even when it seems wrong?

Common sense says to me that:
A. The client told the reviewer to only include HVAC costs in reserves because they consider replacing roofs and parking lots elsewhere, and that information did not trickle down to the lowly field observers, or
B. The reviewer was not only wrong but he was an ass about it.