Published February 2018
Editor’s Note: The following advice is presented to aid board members in carrying out their responsibilities. While it is not exhaustive, there is much useful information provided by industry experts.
By Michael Tebor, ASCS, CIEC, CMRC
Odors in buildings (and homes) can be pervasive, unpleasant, unhealthy, and sometimes difficult to eliminate. The culprit can be dirty ducts, leaky ducts, or both! In any case, the link between poor ventilation and poor indoor air quality has been well established.
Almost all ductwork leaks, and depending on the leakage locations, this leakage is one large root cause of dirty ductwork, condensation, and subsequent mold growth. Additionally, these leaks draw in dirty attic, basement, and non-filtered wall cavity air into our breathing zone every time the HVAC unit operates. These same leaks can cost thousands of dollars of wasted electricity, causing comfort problems, and reducing the AC equipment capacity and performance.
Indoor air quality is a growing concern in every building and home today. Exposure to mold can result in cold-like symptoms, nasal and sinus congestion, respiratory problems, coughing, sore throat, watery eyes, skin irritations, and trigger asthma attacks. If high mold levels are present in a building, it is considered hazardous. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of hazardous pollutants in indoor air has been found to be up to 70 times more hazardous than outdoor air, and if mold is found in the air conditioning system, the A.C. unit should be turned off. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Michael Tebor, ASCS, CIEC, CMRC is a co-owner of Air Duct Aseptics Inc. For more information, call today for your free building A.C. inspection (888) 707-7763 or visit www.adaflorida.com.
By Connie Lorenz
It’s awesome that you stepped up and committed to bettering your community by sitting on your board, but did you know what you got yourself into really? Probably not if you find yourself looking at a milling and paving project scheduled for your term. Nobody really thinks to ask what’s on the project docket for the coming term before they run, and next thing you know, you are meeting with contractors and reading proposals with words you’ve never heard of, and, of course, none of the proposals match at all!
Understanding your issues and recognizing the fears that you may have going into such an intense project, we are here to help. Before you start taking bids for your next milling and paving project, let us come in at no charge and educate your board with “Breaking Down the Bids” CEU class followed by “Perfect Paving Project” class, which can help you navigate one of the most expensive projects your community will ever experience!
Why pay a higher price for a lesser quality project simply because you may not understand the ins and outs of a successful paving project? After all, it is likely that your community only does this once every 15–20 years (hopefully), so why would you have this information at your fingertips? Understanding what and why you are doing it will be the best way for your community to not only be educated about pavement but also help your community save money over the long run!
By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.
If you are new to your community’s board of directors, thank you for agreeing to serve in this capacity. You will learn that the “job” can be both thankless and fulfilling at different times and for different reasons.
The first thing you will need to do is to ensure that you have submitted your director certification form within 90 days after being newly elected or appointed to the board of directors. If you fail to comply in a timely manner with the statutory certification requirement, you will be automatically removed from the board until you comply. You can fulfill this requirement either by attending a class that has been approved by the state or by signing a form attesting that you have read, understood, and agree to uphold the association’s governing documents. As a new board member, attending a board certification class should be a priority. These classes cover a wide variety of issues that you will confront as a member of your board, and having context and background on which to base your decisions will be crucial to making the best decisions for your community. Becker & Poliakoff taught approximately 300 classes at no charge for board members and managers throughout Florida last year. For the 2018 calendar of these free classes, please visit www.bplegal.com/events.
As a new member on your community’s board of directors, when you are being asked to vote on an association matter, please make sure to inquire about the source of authority for the subject matter. Whether the issue involves parking assignments, fees related to the common areas, limits on guest occupancy, screening and move-in procedures, or other restrictions, you should feel comfortable knowing that the board can do what it is considering doing. Don’t take anyone’s word for it that “it has always been done this way” because sometimes you will discover that it’s been handled incorrectly and, even, illegally for years. If you find out that there is a problem in terms of the association’s operations, remember that there is a right way and wrong way to pursue change. Hurling accusations prematurely is not nearly as effective as being respectful but persistent after you have gathered all the necessary facts. Discussing privileged information you learn as a board member with owners or third parties is not appropriate, nor is expecting special access to documents, which do not pertain to your role on the board.
Remember, you are part of a team, and you should act like a team player. Now go out there and make your community association a highly functioning one!
By David Farrar
So, you are now on the board for your association. As you look at the budget and what needs to be done, you wonder if you have money to fund all of the repairs and maintenance that is required. Ideally there is enough in the reserve fund, but sometimes things need to be addressed ahead of schedule. Roofs fail sooner than expected, and paint starts to fade or peel.
Obtaining a bank loan is another way of paying as you go, only you get the project completed now and not after you fully fund that reserve or have to do a special assessment. It could also mean you are taking advantage of current, lower costs.
There may be several benefits of completing a project now:
A good mix of reserves with a loan can help you maintain property values and keep your association in tip-top shape. At Centennial Bank, we are here to listen and help develop the best plan to move forward.
By Ray Sabbaghzadeh, SRA
Florida Statute 718.111 (11) (a) requires all condominium associations to have “adequate” hazard insurance; and in order to comply with this section of the statute, they are required to have an insurance appraisal of the condominium property at least once every 36 months. An accurate appraisal by an experienced appraiser will provide you with the adequate insurance amount to replace damaged HOA units and/or common elements in case of a disaster. The accuracy of the appraisal is imperative as an overvaluation results in a higher-than-necessary premium, and an undervaluation will result in insufficient funds for repair and/or replacements of the units and common elements.
Ray Sabbaghzadeh is a Florida State Certified General Appraiser and the principal of Certified Appraisers & Consultants, an appraisal firm serving Southwest Florida since 1965. For more information, visit our website at appraisals-insurance.com or contact us at (239) 593-6422.
By Chuck Walker
Part of an HOA’s job is compelling residents to abide by a community’s articles of incorporation. New board members, however, find the role of enforcer can get old fast. At Climate Control Services, we can’t stress enough how proactively helping residents instead of solely reacting makes the position more enjoyable.
In the communities we service, we’ve found that residents welcome money-saving tips—for example, things like our recommendation to install a Wi-Fi thermostat. It’s a simple device that works with existing residential Wi-Fi service and can save a bundle in power consumption. Many homeowners have no idea they exist, let alone have one.
A Wi-Fi thermostat allows control of the temperature from a smartphone or laptop whether you’re gone hours or all season. Raining back home? Adjust your thermostat to run an extra few hours to keep your home dry. Unexpected heat wave or cold front? You’re covered. They’re relatively inexpensive and as easy to operate as sending an email.
Imagine the convenience of remotely controlling the air conditioning in your community’s multiple common areas. The savings in electricity and staff time would quickly recover the cost of the Wi-Fi thermostat.
In your new position, you’ll probably have to wear that enforcer hat once in a while. At Climate Control Services, we understand the pressures you will face. And we are dedicated to making our service to you as stress-free as possible.
Chuck Walker is President of Climate Control Services. For more information, call (877) 738-9101 or visit www.ClimateControlServices.com.
By Louis J. Daniello
Boards have a fiduciary duty to the members, so hiring the “right” contractor is just as important as getting the work done. Here are some tips in hiring the “right” contractor:
Louis J. Daniello is President of Daniello Companies. For more information, call (888) 370-4333 or (561) 835-4788 or visit www.concreterepairing.net.
By Steven J. Mainardi, P.E., R.S.
As a newly elected board member, you’re going to be making a lot of important decisions for your association, and one of the best decisions you could make would be to hire an engineer for your repainting project. When properly performed using the correct materials, repainting your building can not only enhance its aesthetic qualities but also provide waterproofing properties, thereby extending the service of the structure. But, there is so much more to repainting a building than slapping on a coat of paint!
For example, the evaluation of your building is a critical step in any repainting project. Assessing the condition of the existing coatings and substrates, water intrusion, building cracks, spalling concrete, corrosion, and other structural concerns, as well as understanding the architectural details of the building, are all vital considerations in the evaluation process.
An engineering consultant has the experience and knowledge to properly evaluate a building as well as prepare a clear and concise scope of work and specifications, help qualify contractors, solicit bids, oversee the work for compliance, and provide professional, un-biased insight into the process.
Hiring a professional engineer can assist your association greatly during all phases of repainting and help ensure the project is a success.
Steven J. Mainardi, P.E., R.S., is Principal Engineer and owner of Delta Engineering & Inspection. For more information, call (877) 577-7100 or visit www.delta-engineers.com.
By Ed Williams
You have been elected to the board of your condominium association and are now an expert in pavement, roofs, walls, and accounting. The question is, are you? Unless your life experiences have prepared you for all these different trades, you’re probably not.
Since my expertise is in the roofing trade, let’s look at what you would do in some different roofing situations. A penthouse owner calls to say that his roof is leaking and demands a new roof be placed over his expensive furnishings. Is a new roof always necessary when there’s a leak? The following is a list of steps I would suggest that you take:
By Casey Ward, P.E.
A roof replacement project for an association is a big and expensive undertaking. Many times replacing a roof can be an association’s largest expenditure. We have seen associations attempt to tackle a re-roofing project on their own, and sometimes the project will go smoo-thly; however, you do not want to experience a project that goes awry. Imagine spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars of your association’s money only to learn at the end of the project that your new roof was installed incorrectly, causing a plague over the association until the roof is replaced many years down the road.
What we learned from Hurricane Irma is that if your roof was not installed correctly, failure likely occurred. During a hurricane, the wind gusts are severe and can cause major damage to your roof. Don’t fall into the trap that your new roof is “code approved.” The new roofing materials and roof assembly have to meet stringent laboratory testing; however, if the roof is not installed correctly, none of these testing requirements matter. After the storm, many new roofs failed as a result of improper installation. Save your association the hassle of re-roofing issues and consult with a professional engineer who has expertise in the roofing industry to guide you through your roofing project.
An engineer can prepare specifications and design documents, obtain bids from roofing contractors, and provide project oversight to ensure that the work is being completed per the contract terms and building code requirements. Protect your investment by retaining an engineer to act as the association’s representative.
By Bob Horswood
LEDs are an environmentally friendly energy solution that can bring huge savings to your community while enhancing the look and feel of common spaces. There are multiple benefits:
Outdoor LEDs offer improved visibility for pedestrians and traffic, as well as reduced light pollution. Indoors, LEDs are shown to improve mood, and combining them with smart controls allows lighting levels to change in response to conditions, resulting in even greater savings.
Although LEDs bring many benefits, buyers need to be wary of some pitfalls:
The right lighting does more than affect the way we see our environment; it affects our emotions, sense of safety, and comfort. Keep these tips in mind and find a partner you can trust to install beautiful, energy-efficient LEDs for your community.
By John Greenwood
Ever since our ancient ancestors appeared and began to roam the earth, mankind has developed and fostered myths and legends to explain his perception of the world around him. Bats, which pre-date homo sapiens by several million years, have always been subjects of these “old wives’ tales.” A prime example is the still widely held belief that bats are blind. This is not true at all.
In daylight conditions (yes—although this is extremely rare—bats can venture out during the daytime), a bat’s vision is roughly comparable to that of a human. However, like most animals, their color perception is not as good as ours. But at night, which is the domain of these nocturnal hunters, their vision is extremely poor (unlike, for example, the vision of owls). This is why they have developed the ability to echolocate. Much like dolphins, bats can emit ultrasound waves that reflect back to them off their fleeing prey and allow them to zero in on their tiny victims before returning to their roosts in our homes and condominiums.
At Friends of Bats, we use knowledge like this to help us locate and ultimately re-locate bat colonies that have infested buildings people inhabit, in a way that does not harm the animals (a process called humane bat exclusion), and to guarantee that they cannot return.
By Eric Glazer, Esq.
I can’t tell you how many times per year I meet with a newly elected board, and their first concern is that their documents are so old and so out of date that they completely need to be tossed in the trash and re-drafted. They are wrong.
Sometimes directors freak out just because the documents still have language in them that refers to the developer. So what? If there is no longer a developer, that provision is now obsolete. Leaving that provision alone does nothing to hurt your association.
Frequently, I encounter old documents that protect the association better than newer documents do. For example, I often find that newer documents do little to protect the association against overnight rentals. In fact, you are more likely to find a willingness for overnight rentals in newer communities and newer documents, rather than old ones, as developers now draft documents that seek to coax buyers into buying units by promising them the ability to make a profit each night the unit is rented.
There’s no question that at least once every few years, you want to sit down with counsel and discuss possible changes or updates to the governing documents; but if that counsel says that the documents basically need a complete re-write, it may be time to find new counsel.
I like to tell the board members to simply tell me what they want to try and accomplish in their community, and I will help them get there. Give me a list of four to five things that are of importance, I’ll start drafting some amendments, and along the way, if I run into other provisions that should also be amended, I’ll let you know.
Amending the documents can be difficult. It typically requires two-thirds or three-quarters of the members to agree to an amendment. It’s possible, and it is done all the time. Don’t be intimidated by the process, and don’t be talked into doing more than what you really need to do.
Eric M. Glazer is with Glazer & Sachs P.A. For more information, call (954) 983-1112 or visit www.condo-laws.com.
By Allie Lewis
No matter how well you prepare for emergencies, you simply cannot predict all disasters. We should know. Kings III has taken every call imaginable, from the average elevator entrapment, to something as unusual as someone almost getting their finger bitten off in a family dispute (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dOiePcjUzg&feature=youtu.be).
When developing a safety plan for your community, you’re not likely to include a section entitled “When a Resident’s Brother Tries to Bite His Finger Off.” However, you are still liable. An isolated situation can snowball and affect the safety of your entire community, making a strategy for when things do go awry essential.
Residents need access to timely, reliable help. There are areas within your community where emergency phones may be required by code (i.e., elevator or pool). You may have others throughout the community for best practices. In all cases, the priority is that they serve as effective means to obtain necessary assistance.
Our operators receive certification higher than most 911 centers. Once the situation has been addressed, we alert you to whatever disturbance has occurred—an important step that wouldn’t occur if you connected emergency phones straight to 911 or relied on residents using cell phones.
Scary situations can occur in any community. Is yours ready?
By Brian Fischer and Stuart Fischer
Condominium and homeowners associations throughout Florida are increasingly facing problems associated with eroding shorelines. With this inevitable erosion along lakes, canals, hillsides, and golf courses come dangerous conditions as well as diminished property values as waterfront property disappears. Boards of directors should audit this situation carefully and look for some of the following conditions along waterfront properties:
There are solutions. SOX Erosion Solutions (www.soxerosion.com) has patented an environmentally-safe SOX product that solves the problem. Our solutions involve filling a mesh “sock” with sediment from the waterway and then securing it to the shoreline. It reclaims entire shorelines. Once secured, sod, trees, and shrubbery can be planted and rooted through the mesh, creating a “living shoreline” and restoring what nature intended.
In addition to associations throughout Florida, the United States, Canada, and Australia are benefitting from this unique best practices erosion control technology provided by SOX Erosion Solutions.
Brian Fischer and Stuart Fischer are Co-Presidents of Lake and Wetland Management in Boca Raton, FL. For more information, visit www.lakeandwetland.com or call (855) 888-LAKE.
By Nathan J. Yoder
What type of finish is appropriate for a coastal application? What is the minimum height requirement for your railing? What is the picket spacing requirement? If you’re thinking about replacing your existing railing with glass railing, what type of glass railing panels do you need? Do you need an engineer or a permit to replace your railings? Should you surface mount your railings, or should you have them core bored? Does your building have post-tension cables? What is the Florida Building Code, and how does it affect what you do?
These are just some of the questions that you may encounter when considering a rail replac-ement project. It can seem overwhelming and is typically a significant investment. Make sure that you are selecting the correct materials and contractor as this is crucial to the overall long-term success of your project.
By Nick Brenneman
As a board member, you owe a fiduciary duty to your association that extends beyond personal interests. One critical way that community leaders fulfill this duty is by making smart financial decisions on behalf of their association. A model board member has the long-term vision to ensure the association’s physical and financial health and well-being by having a sound understanding of upcoming future capital expenses. Long-term capital repairs and replacements may be many years away, but these events are not unknown. In fact, by assessing its condition, a reserve study professional can forecast both when an asset will need to be replaced and what the future cost will likely be. Only when an association has this full picture can they truly understand the health of their reserves. What better way to fulfill your fiduciary duty than by making sure your members’ contributions to reserves are both accurate and adequate, and your association is positioned to confidently finance all future capital repairs and replacement projects without the need for bank loans or special assessments. That is a true fiduciary, and that is the type of leadership your owners need.
By Michael E. Chapnick
For those who live in community associations, board membership should be viewed in the same vein as a civic duty.
New board members in Florida are legally required to become certified within 90 days of their taking office. The law establishes that they may do so by attending an educational course that has been certified by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, such as the board member certification seminars that are offered by our firm on a regular basis.
Board members also have countless online resources that are replete with all of the most vital information for associations. The online archives of the Florida Community Association Journal and The Community Associations Institute, which is the largest organization representing community associations in the world, offer a great deal of helpful articles and guides.
By serving on their association’s board of directors, association members are answering the call of service to their community and their fellow neighbors. By utilizing the vast resources available to community associations and their board members, new members can more effectively do their part to help ensure the long-term financial and administrative wellbeing of their community.
By Joanna Ribner
Sometime boards get to make decisions that are seen as “tangible” by the residents: new landscaping, new carpeting, and painting the lobby. These are things that residents can see and appreciate.
But there are other issues lurking in your building that are out-of-sight, out-of-mind. One of these is the trash chute system. Until there is a blockage or foul odors, residents don’t appreciate spending money on something “intangible.”
The chute system is governed by building and fire codes. It is, essentially, a chimney running the height of your building. So, the hopper and fire damper doors have to meet Code.
Proactive maintenance such as yearly professional cleaning and maintenance can prolong the life of the doors, reduce odors, and prevent bug infestations. A small investment annually can lead to big savings in the future.
By Tony Carrasco
The use of pipe video inspections has been around for many years, and they are piv-otal in determining current pipe system problems and saving you from major pipe system problems down the road.
1. Visual Identification
Pipe systems are often hard to reach, inspecting them from the outside can be difficult, and you will not know 100 percent the condition of your pipes until an internal camera inspection takes place in your system.
2. Identify future problems
During a pipe inspection, the condition of your pipe system can identify future problems. External corrosion, for example, can be identified as the pipe walls recede and become thinner. Identifying thinning pipe areas can help you avoid future leak disasters that are very disruptive and costly to fix.
3. Cost Effective
Pipe inspections offer owners and property managers a roadmap for planning the cost to maintain and repair their systems. In a complex prop-erty, managers will be able to set aside the reserves they need for future maintenance programs or repairs. A pipe inspection will help you save money and a lot of headaches in the long run.
Tony Carrasco is Marketing Manager with Specialized Pipe Technologies (SPT). For more information, call (855) 286-6747 or visit www.sptpipe.com.
By Anne Dondero
Property maintenance is obviously very important to a community’s image, the protection of its property value, and homeowner enjoyment of the community. Board members taking on the responsibility of evaluating the short- and long-term planning of a community’s maintenance should be very concerned about how the property will be maintained and what the long-term effects of this maintenance will be in the useful life of the asset. How long will the paint last, when will the sidewalks need to be resurfaced, and how long will it be before the roofs need to be replaced? All of these items have a great impact on both the operating and reserve budgets, which in turn determine assessments. Many board members and homeowners have found themselves at odds because items such as these were not properly planned for (or properly maintained), and the results are usually unexpected assessments, which no one likes. Always be aware of what the long-term effects of maintenance, or lack of it, will be on the long-term costs to the community.
Anne Dondero is Owner of Spotless Roof Solutions LLC. For more information, call (800) 673-1136 or visit www.SpotlessRoofSolutions.com.
By Matthew Zifrony
What’s worse? An apathetic board that won’t lead when it should or a board that oversteps its power? And, where do you set the line between these two types of boards?
Generally speaking, an association board consists of untrained volunteers who are put in charge of managing their association’s common areas. Every board has a fiduciary obligation to protect the association’s property, but a board cannot give itself the right to do something that isn’t prescribed in the association’s governing documents. Furthermore, board members should build consensus if at all possible rather than make decisions that divide the community’s residents.
While it’s one thing to overlook rules you didn’t know existed (though every board member should be aware of its rules), creating a new rule for the community that seems arbitrary or bound to fail is not only a waste of time but a needless assault on community goodwill. Keep in mind that most cases wherein a board has overstepped its auth-ority could likely have been avoided by consulting legal counsel before making a decision that seems questionable.
Matthew Zifrony is a Director for Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law. For more information, call (954) 525-7500 or visit www.trippscott.com.
By Richard Alfonso
The 2017 hurricane season demonstrated to many HOA board members the importance of having a line of credit. After Hurricane Irma, many condominium associations discovered they did not have sufficient cash on hand to cover large insurance deductibles and to make their buildings safe.
In such cases, a line of credit can help ensure the availability of funds needed to protect or restore property from further deterioration in anticipation of insurance proceeds becoming available. HOAs that found they lacked sufficient funds to address these urgent matters should begin funding reserves or pursuing lines of credit before the next storm season begins.
Contact your bank relationship manager to learn what lines of credit are available. Although it will most likely be a variable rate, try to negotiate for a three-year term instead of just one to avoid having to renew every year. Banks are looking to forge long-term relationships and therefore will be open to working with you.
A line of credit is a good tool to include as a part of your hurricane strategy. Because preparation is key, this will ensure you will be in a position to repair or refurbish any buildings impacted by a storm.