Ah, nepotism. It's a familiar concept for anyone who's lived in a condo or coop. Somehow any large capital improvement project—painting the community's exterior, replacing the chimneys, paving the parking lot—seems like a job for a board member's cousin or friend or business associate. Even better, they'll do it on the cheap!

After years in the business, such suggestions don't faze Eric Henning, vice president of Community Management Associates, a condo management firm in Atlanta. But he doesn't stay quiet, either. Instead, when this happens, Henning draws on his 17 years of experience in community association management to educate that specific person—and the entire board—about the best course of action.

His advice: Avoid the “friends and family” approach and find a real professional to do the work and oversee the project. If a community is undergoing a significant renovation, for example, Henning will hire a building engineer to review the bids and oversee that project, which offers the association some liability protection. “It's a lot easier to go out and spend $1,500 to bring in a qualified engineer to write a bid specifically for painting a 12-story condo than it is for a board member who majored in engineering in college to do the specifications,” he says. “This is a place where boards get themselves in trouble.”