Budgeting for Repainting Projects: A Guide for Homeowner’s Association Reserve Studies

As a manager or member of a homeowner’s association (HOA), you understand the importance of maintaining and improving your community. One essential aspect of maintaining the curb appeal and structural integrity of your community is repainting. However, repainting projects can be costly, and it’s crucial to budget for them within your HOA’s reserve study. In this article, we will discuss how to effectively budget for repainting projects within your HOA’s reserve study.

Understanding the Reserve Study

A reserve study is a vital document for homeowner’s associations, providing a long-term financial plan for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of common elements within the community. It outlines the necessary budget for these projects over a specified period, typically 20 to 30 years. Repainting is one of the projects that should be included in your reserve study, as it plays a significant role in preserving your community’s aesthetics and property values.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to budget for repainting projects within your HOA’s reserve study:

1. Component Inventory

Painting and coatings are just one “component” of your reserve study. The first step in budgeting for repainting projects is to assess the current condition of the community’s exterior surfaces. This includes the siding, trim, doors, and any other elements that require repainting. Determine whether the paint is peeling, fading, or showing signs of wear and tear. Make a detailed list of all areas that need repainting. In addition, this is a good time to reassess the need for any structural repairs: wood replacement, fencing repair, and stucco patching.

2. Determine the Useful Life

Once you’ve assessed the condition, decide on a repainting schedule. This will depend on factors like climate, the type of paint used, and the general wear and tear. This will determine, for purposes of the reserve study, the “effective age” of your coatings. Typically, most HOAs repaint their properties every 5-10 years depending upon their defined “useful life.” However, your community’s specific needs may vary. You might need to determine, as well, what the “remaining useful life” of your coatings are based upon the physical condition observed during the first step. To ease the burden of repainting all at once, some communities will establish a painting cycle; in this approach, the HOA will repaint portions of the community each year for a period of years.

3. Determine Replacement Cost

To ensure accurate budgeting, obtain multiple bids from qualified painting contractors. These bids should include the cost of labor, materials, and any necessary preparations or repairs. This is an important step, as it is the key input into the “replacement cost” calculation for coatings. Make sure to specify the scope of work and the expected quality standards to ensure all contractors provide consistent quotes. A well-designed repaint specification is crucial in setting these standards during the bidding process. A leading paint manufacturer or a qualified commercial painting contractor can assist in preparing this.

4. Plan for Inflation

Inflation can affect the cost of repainting projects over time. To account for this, include an inflation factor in your budget. Most reserve studies use a conservative inflation rate of 2-3% annually to ensure that the funds will be sufficient when needed. However, construction costs can often vary from typical rates of inflation. It’s often prudent to consider using a construction cost index, like RSMeans or Dodge Data, to better plan for this.

5. Review Your Funding Plan

Your HOA’s reserve fund should have a line item for repainting projects, reflecting the estimated costs over the planned schedule. Based upon your “funding plan,” the HOA may elect to fully or partially fund their reserves for this work. By allocating funds for repainting projects over time, the HOA will be able to provide transparency to dues and avoid (or reduce) special assessments. The reserve fund should be a designated account where HOA fees are accumulated over time to cover major expenses. Ensure that the amount allocated for repainting is based on the bids received and the estimated schedule.

6. Conduct Regular Updates

Your reserve study should not be a static document. It’s crucial to revisit and update it annually or whenever significant changes occur. This will help you stay on track and make necessary adjustments to your repainting budget as costs change or unforeseen issues arise.


Budgeting for repainting projects within your HOA’s reserve study is essential to maintain the beauty and structural integrity of your community while preserving property values. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your HOA is financially prepared for repainting projects and other essential maintenance and improvement initiatives. With proper planning and budgeting, your community will continue to thrive and provide a welcoming environment for all residents.

You are not alone in this process. Palo Verde Painting has helped homeowner’s associations with each step of this process. We find that it’s especially helpful to HOA managers and board members to engage with us for component inventory, paint specifications, color analysis, and useful life determination. We also have experience with the overall reserve study process and can assist by providing support and guidance at any point along the way.

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