Stay in Shape: Your Capital Replacement Reserve Plan

20 December 2023

A capital replacement reserve plan is a crucial strategy for keeping your housing co-op in good repair over time. The plan outlines the anticipated lifespan of various elements within your property and estimates the funds necessary for their replacement or for major repairs.  

In this article, we will dive into the importance of having a capital replacement reserve plan, its components, costs and some steps to address an underfunded reserve. 

The Need for a Capital Replacement Reserve Plan 

As buildings age, it’s essential to plan for the replacement of key components such as roofs, flooring and appliances. Having a comprehensive plan means that you won’t overlook critical aspects of your property when they require attention. It also enables you to make informed financial decisions and possibly investments that come with better returns. 

What makes up a Capital Replacement Reserve Plan? 

A capital replacement reserve plan consists of two main parts. First, it lists all capital items that will need replacement, estimating their lifespan and current replacement costs. Second, a reserve fund study forecasts annual expenditures on capital repairs and replacements, in view of future costs and investment returns. Regular updates—at least every three years—are essential to allow for unforeseen issues, changing costs and adjustments to repair schedules. 

Determining Annual Contributions 

The amount a co-op should contribute to its capital reserve depends on existing funds, physical condition and building type. Developing a capital replacement reserve plan is the only reliable way to determine the necessary annual contributions. These contributions are crucial for maintaining the co-op's financial health and ensuring adequate funds are available for future repairs and replacements. 

Cost of Developing a Plan 

Creating a capital replacement reserve plan involves obtaining a building condition assessment and a reserve fund study, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on various factors. While these costs should ideally be covered under your operating budget, you can charge them to the capital replacement reserve if funds are limited. Additionally, there are funding sources out there that can help pay for these reports.  

Getting Started 

Co-operatives can seek assistance from their relationship managers or rental assistance officers to start the process of developing a capital replacement reserve plan. We recommend professional guidance for your building condition assessment and reserve fund study, with the Agency’s technical services staff available to provide advice. 

Implementing the Plan 

Once approved, the capital replacement reserve plan becomes a valuable tool for managing annual capital replacements and budgeting reserve contributions. Regular updates, based on completed replacements and adjustments to projections, help optimize the plan's effectiveness. A good plan doesn’t last forever, though. As needed, the Agency will remind you to update your plan.  

Addressing an Underfunded Reserve 

An underfunded reserve, where cash and investments fall short of the planned reserve amount, is a compliance issue if you have a CMHC operating agreement. Co-ops can address this over time by maximizing your revenues by collecting outstanding charges, raising housing charges and filling vacancies.  

Contributing to Your Co-op’s Well-Being 

A well-crafted and regularly updated capital replacement reserve plan is critical for keeping your co-op financially viable as it moves into the future. A good plan ensures that funds are available for timely repairs and replacements, which contributes not only to the long-term well-being of your co-operative, but also to that of your members.  


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