Welcome Back Snowbirds! Here’s Some Advice

Welcome Back Snowbirds! Here’s Some Advice

Published October 2016


Editor’s Note: As the snowbirds return to Florida, FLCAJ sought out several community association service providers to find out what advice they have for the returning residents. The counsel touches on many important topics, so read, learn, make changes to community operations, and enjoy your stay in the Sunshine State!

Benefits of Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) Services

By Hotwire Communications

You may have heard the term “fiber optics” when referring to TV or Internet service, but do you really know the benefits and advantages of this technology? A gigabit-capable fiber optic network provides advanced performance at a lower cost, which provides several benefits:

Connect at a speed that is 55 times faster than the national average
Download an HD movie in eight seconds—a broadband connection takes around eight minutes
Future-proof your home—have ample bandwidth for current and future applications of HD TV, 4K TV, Smart Home Automation, and more
Use 50 percent less electricity, on average
Simultaneously use all of your in-home Wi-Fi enabled devices without fighting for bandwidth
Secure Internet service without data caps due to the low operating cost.
     For more information on Hotwire Communications, call (800) 409-4733 or visit www.hotwirecommunications.com. 

Check Out Your Roadways

By Connie Lorenz

Welcome back, and I hope you had a wonderful summer! We had some very heavy rains come through that did a lot of damage to our communities, and you might not even know it yet. Now is a good time to do a walk-through in your community, check out your roadways, and reevaluate your budget and reserves.

Pay special attention to depressions or dips that weren’t there last year, especially if they are near a drain basin or manhole cover. Look for pavement defects that are open and allowing water intrusion in to your sub-base. Your sub-base is what keeps your pavement stable. The faster you fix it, the less damage is done.

Now is a good time to refresh your property by applying the right surface treatment for your community. Make sure to do any pressure washing to the sidewalks, curbs, and gutters 30 days after your pavement was treated.

For more information on Asphalt Restoration Technology, call (800) 254-4732 or visit www.asphaltnews.com.

Cleaning Out the Garbage

By Joanna Ribner

Welcome back, winter residents. Welcome back to the wonderful warm weather! Welcome back to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, and the really bad smell from your garbage chute when the coffee grounds and the orange peel meet and fester together!

With increased residency, there is increased garbage, and it is time to schedule your ann-ual trash chute cleaning and free safety inspection. The trash chute system falls under fire safety, so we want to be sure all the doors are functioning properly to protect the residents in case of a fire.

Your dryers are probably working overtime as well. Cleaning the lint out of the dryer vents will give you better energy efficiency, which equals lower bills; speedier drying time, which equals satisfied residents; and removal of highly flammable lint, which equals safer buildings. Enjoy the season—we look forward to working with you!

For more information on Southern Chute, call (866) 475-9191 or visit www.SouthernChute.com.

Creating a Personalized Security Program

By Janett McMillan

A great community association program (CAP) is dedicated to serving only residents of community associations, providing 24/7 security system monitoring, concierge-level customer care, services, and equipment under bulk agreements, and is backed by cutting-edge technology. In addition to systems for intrusion, fire, automation, interactive services, video, access control and personal emergency response system (PERS), ADT offers dual monitoring for use by on-site security.

With dual monitoring, security officers see an alarm that occurs in each residence or community-owned facility at the same time as the monitoring center. This allows security to provide the high-level response to alarms that residents expect. It helps ensure the safety of responding officers because they are more informed. Security can add comments documenting officer response. Procedures have been established for handling each type of alarm and interaction with security, helping communities create a personalized security program.

For more information on ADT, call (800) 878-7806 or visit www.adt.com/community-associations.

Does Your Parking Garage ‘Rain On Your Parade’?

By Scott O’Connor

Welcome back to sunny South Florida. . .or perhaps not so sunny. Our weather patterns continue to be unpredictable, and recently our winters have become rainier than normal. A parking garage is a fantastic feature in a condominium unless you get wet when going from the car to the condominium due to leaks.

If you are one of the many who suffer from leaking garage roofs with water cascading onto you or your car, you may have a failed expansion joint system. Expansion joints allow for movement between structural sections of the garage and are a necessary and normal function of the structure. Sometimes joints are not properly installed when the building was first completed, or they have been damaged through time and exposure. By properly restoring expansion joints, more than 95 percent of the water intrusion can be eliminated. Call a reputable restoration engineer to help you navigate this process so you can enjoy your time in Florida, rain or shine!

For more information on TRC Worldwide Engineering, call (954) 484-7777 or visit www.trcww.com.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark

By Diane Castro

With the end of daylight savings time on November 6, now is a good time to evaluate your community’s outdoor lighting. Do your community entrances, club house vistas, and other common grounds fade into

darkness at night? Professionally-designed and installed landscape lighting will beautify your property and add the important benefit of safety and security for residents and guests. More good news—with the advancement of LED technology, converting your landscape lighting system to LED will save money on two fronts. First, LED lights use approximately 75 percent less energy than traditional light sources, and the resulting reduction in electrical costs is welcome news to the budget. Second, because LED has a significantly longer life, ongoing maintenance costs for lamp replacements are greatly reduced. The grounds and landscaping of your community represent large investments—maximize the enjoyment of these assets at night.

For more information on Vernon Daniel Associates, call (800) 586-0246 or visit www.vernondaniel.com.

Down the Drain

By Teresa Smetzer

Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency curren-tly estimates that leaky faucets in a condominium residence can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water annually?

Here are some tips to prevent water from just going down the drain:

Verify that your home is leak-free.

Toilets—put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the tank is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 15–30 minutes.

Faucets—check for leaks at the faucet head and for seepage at the base and connections.

Showers—check the washer for wear and ensure that the showerhead is screwed on tightly.

Don’t let water run while shaving, brushing your teeth, or washing dishes.
Operate dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full.
Scrape, don’t rinse your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher.
Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.

For more information on National Exemption Service, call (800) 851-3022 or visit www.submeter.com.

Eligibility to Be on the Board

By Keith Backer

While preparing for your annual meeting, when considering whether a nominee for a seat on the board is eligible, it is important to remember that a person who is delinquent in the payment of any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation to the HOA on the day that he or she could last nominate himself or be nominated for the board may not seek election to the board, and his or her name may not be listed on the ballot. Similarly, in a condominium, a person who has been suspended or removed by the Division or who is delinquent in the payment of any monetary obligation due to the association is not eligible to be a candidate for board membership and may not be listed on the ballot.

For more information on Backer Aboud Poliakoff & Foelster, call (800) 251-3562 or visit www.bapflaw.com.

Enjoy the Pooled Reserves

By Matthew Kuisle

Welcome back! One of the first items of business for your board this season should be to develop, review, and approve your 2017 budget. Most condominium managers and boards understand that the budget must include funds for roof replacement, building painting, and pavement resurfacing. However, many forget that reserves are also required for any other item costing more than $10,000.

If you are new to the board, this may mean adding expensive items to your budget like concrete restoration, plumbing, or elevators. If all of these previously unreserved-for items leave you dreading conversations with your neighbors about increased assessments, you may want to explore “pooling” your reserves. Pooled reserves examine cash flow over time for a group of reserve items. The calculations define the lowest reasonable annual contributions that will still achieve adequate and stable funding of the reserves. It may not completely eliminate the need for a fee increase, but pooled reserves often identify lower funding requirements when compared to individually segregated reserve categories.

For more information on Reserve Advisors, call (800) 980-9881 or visit www.reserveadvisors.com.

Facility Housekeeping CheckList

By William Pyznar

As you return to Florida, it is imperative to take proactive measures to ensure your building is in good shape so costly emergency repairs can be avoided.

   1.  Reserve Fund—Make sure your reserve fund is up-to-date, including adjustments for recently completed projects and assessments.

   2.  Energy Use—Have your building benchmarked to see that your energy consumption is in line with where it should be. If not, go deeper into an energy reduction plan to identify exactly what can be done to reduce your spending, what incentives are available, and how this can be integrated with your capital reserve plan.

   3.  Site: Look for erosion around bulkheads, sea walls, and inlets; settlement of driving and walking surfaces; and sink holes. If areas are suspect, have them inspected by a professional.

   4.  MEP: Make sure manufacturer-recommended preventive maintenance practices are being completed on a timely basis and equipment logs are updated.

For more information on The Falcon Group, call Miami at (305) 663-1970 or West Palm Beach (561) 290-0504 or visit www.thefalcongroup.us.

Important Reminders

By George Reiter

Like clockwork, your part-time residents will be returning soon to escape the snow back home and bask in the south Florida warmth. Before they jump on that plane or merge onto the interstate, you can provide timely reminders:

  1)  Bring all their documents, including a driver’s license, insurance papers, and tax papers if staying past April 15, 2017.

  2)  Speaking of insurance, is their coverage current for both residences?

  3)  Inform their alarm company that they’ll be away, and urge them to ask a friend or neighbor to check on their empty home.

  4)  They can ask their doctor for a longer-term prescription for while they’re away.

  5)  It’s smart if they have accounts with FedEx, etc. to update their address. They should inform the bank of their move to avoid an account being frozen when unfamiliar ATM and charge locations appear in the system. This is never a bad idea.

For more information on C.A.M.S. Association Management, call (561) 738-0061 or (866) 446-2267 or visit www.camsmanagement.com.

Making Huge Waves with Sensor-based Technologies

By Richard Worth

Sensor-based technologies are on the rise! BuildingLink.com recently announced the beta release of Aware-FC, a smart-sensor solution for fitness centers in residential buildings. This custom-built network of sensors is currently being tested at The Solaire in Manhattan, where it is allowing managers and residents to monitor their gym’s equipment usage and ambient temperature.

“Our residents love being able to check the real-time availability of treadmills, stair masters, and elliptical machines,” says Michael Gubbins, Senior Vice President of Property Management at the Albanese Organization. “And all the information is available via a convenient dashboard on residents’ home computers or smartphones.”

This sensor-solutions initiative puts sensor-based analytics at the managers’ fingertips, helping them to monitor laundry machine availability, elevator operations, and leak detection. Such innovative technologies are set to make huge waves in the day-to-day lives of residents and managers.

For more information on BuildingLink.com, call (877) 501-7117 ext. 535 or visit www.buildinglink.com.

Mosquito and Midge Control

By Brian Fischer and Stuart Fischer

Mosquito and midge control efforts should always be a priority for condominium and HOA boards. It has become more important with the threat of the Zika virus. Boards are advised to implement a variety of strategies that include aeration systems that keep water moving, liquid and pellet slow-release insecticides, and stocking waterways with mosquito-eating fish (gambusia).

Authorities warn associations to eliminate standing water, since they are breeding grounds for mosquitos and midges. Keep in mind that virtually all lakes and waterways in Florida are retention ponds, created to limit flooding. They can be considered “standing water” since many don’t naturally flow. Constant monitoring of these waterways is recommended along with these strategies as a way to control these pests and to prevent them from hatching. These efforts are also important in giving communities peace of mind as they combat the threat of the Zika virus.

For more information on Lake & Wetland Management, call (855) 888-LAKE or visit www.lakeandwetland.com.

No More Destructive Pipe Repair

By Mike Douglass

Times of destructive pipe repair are over! There is no longer a need for expensive tearing out of walls and digging up floors to replace problem pipes. Pipelining can save you 30–40 percent in repair costs. The process begins with high-tech cameras that video inside your actual pipes, allowing for an evaluation of your exact problems and for a determination of what is necessary to resolve the issue. After thoroughly cleaning the pipes, the liner is pulled into place, or shot into the pipe via inversion. This creates a seamless “new” pipe inside the old pipes. Roots cannot penetrate this “seamless” pipe, and calcification deposits will not adhere to the epoxy, barrier-lined pipe walls. Best of all, the whole process is done from above ground, which means landscape, foundations, driveways, interior walls, and floors remain undisturbed.

For more information on Mike Douglass Trenchless Technologies, call (877) 426-8660 or visit www.PipeLiningMD.com.

Pool Winterization—Florida Style!

By Alvaro Mendoza

Up north, pool winterization means draining, covering, or otherwise hibernating your pool until spring. In Florida it means completely the opposite, like preparing for the heaviest bather loads, keeping the pool temperature 15 F above where nature wants it, and modernizing your systems to get ready for another year. Here are some details:

Ready for peak season? Work with your maintenance staff to see what challenges they are having. The most challenged are pumping, filtration, heating, and treatment systems. Deficiencies can be seen inperson and on the log sheets.
• Heating affordably? Make sure the heater has received preventive maintenance services, check if a pool cover is right for you (66 percent savings), keep pools at a reasonable temperature.
• Modernizing: Help make decisions to modernize with saline, UV, energy-efficient pumping systems, water-saving filters, and interactive remote control of the entire pump room.

Welcome back and relax for a few days. Then get ready— there’s a lot to do!

     For more information on CES, call (800) 940-1557 or visit www.ceswaterquality.com.

Promoting Happiness

By Lisa Dixon-Bogolub, LCAM, CMCA

October marks the unofficial beginning of the winter season. Snowbirds are returning to their homes, and all residents are thinking about the upcoming holiday season. What can you do to promote happiness for the holidays?

• Plan a holiday event. Asking association members to help with this is a great way to build relationships, especially between permanent and semi-permanent residents. Your association could do a potluck or a party.
• Have a holiday decorating contest. Many residents love their decorations and consider them a part of their holiday tradition. This is a great way to encourage friendly competition and unity amongst all residents.
• If you have a community website, start a discussion board where residents can talk about events going on in town for the holidays. This can act as a resource and an opportunity for all residents to get acquainted.

For more information on Leland Management, call (888) 465-0346 or visit www.LelandManagement.com.

Reserve Study Basics

By Will Simons

The months of September and October are the heart of budget season for most Florida associations. As part of the budgeting process, you may be obtaining a reserve study for the first time, or conducting an update to a prior one. To ensure that it’s an accurate reflection of the association’s financial picture, make sure that all projects you’ve done since your last update are correctly documented in the information you provide to your reserve specialist, and that all component life expectancies and replacement costs used in the analysis are based on the most recent figures. This is especially true for those associations who are deciding to do it themselves. Using outdated or inaccurate information could result in a flawed funding plan and therefore a bad budget. As we move into 2017, make sure that you continue to keep good records, ensuring that next year’s budget process will be as smooth as possible!

For more information on Association Reserves, call (800) 403-9011 or (800) 706-4560 or visit www.reservestudy.com.

Saving Associations Millions

By Anna Brautigam

Large restoration or renovation projects are overwhelming and costly for any association, whether part of a capital improvement plan or a building’s recertification. Before soliciting bids, hiring engineers and contractors, or adopting special assessments, the association’s first step should be to hire an experienced project manager. This approach is critical to the project’s success and saves millions in unnecessary expenses, as well as much aggravation and lost time.

A great project manager should have these capabilities:

Speak the language of contractors and engineers
Review, understand, and question project specifications
Understand the importance and the art of the bidding process
Possess a wealth of industry knowledge and experience, as well as a proven track record of success
Communicate in plain language to the board of directors
Apply his expertise to logistics, scheduling, and purchasing
Execute your project on time and under budget, saving your association time and money along the way.

For more information on DSS Condo, call (305) 856-6711 or visit www.dsscondo.com.

Staying Prepared During Hurricane Season

By Doug Weinstein

Welcome back, snowbirds! Although it is late in the hurricane season, the danger isn’t over yet. Don’t worry, as there are still several precautions you can take to ensure your home stays safe. First, be sure to remove all furniture, plants, and satellite dishes from your balconies and patios. Any other outside items should also be removed or secured. Placing towels on window sills and at the bottom of sliding glass doors will help prevent potential water damage. Additionally, it is important that you are aware of your municipality’s evacuation route so that you can plan to leave for a safe destination. Finally, it is essential to have a well-stocked emergency supply kit, including water, non-perishable food, vitamins, food for infants, batteries, paper goods, a non-electric can opener, absorbent towels, and a first-aid kit. We also recommend you have a hand-crank radio to keep apprised of storm developments and evacuation notices/updates.

  For more information on AKAM On-Site, please call (954) 843-2526 or visit www.akam.com.

Threats to Your Florida Roof

By John Browne

Aside from the basic forces of heat, cold, wind, rain, and age, your roof has other “enemies” that you should be aware of and inspect for in order to minimize unexpected costs and maximize the life of your roof. If these aren’t on your yearly roof inspection checklist, please add them.

   1.  High Winds—Even if we haven’t had a major storm, we’ve probably had high winds over the summer that may have lifted or shifted roofing materials.

   2.  Trees & Leaves—Tree limbs can cause roof damage during a storm, but roofs are more often damaged by the accumulation of leaves and debris in the valleys and gutters.

   3.  Animals & Insects—Critters love attic spaces, and the damage caused can be extensive.

   4.  Moss & Algae—Not only are these an eyesore, but they also cause the roof to hold unnecessary heat and moisture, neither of which is good.

        For more information on Roof-A-Cide, call (800) 806-6727 or visit Roof-A-Cide.com.

Utilize Electronic Voting

By James Claiborne 

Last year, the Florida Legislature caught up with many other states by (finally) passing regulations to permit electronic voting for community associations. Current technology now allows members to choose the method of voting they find most convenient—whether it is casting their ballot over the Internet, touch-tone telephone, or mailed paper ballot. A voter registration Web page can be created so owners can “opt-in” to vote electronically. They then receive their ballot credentials by e-mail or short message service (SMS) and vote with a few clicks.

Electronic voting presents many advantages:

Save funds spent on printing and postage
Increase participation in association governance
Add convenience for off-site owners
Provide an independent third party to verify the results and avoid any image of a conflict of interest
Receive immediate results (no ballot counting!)

To ensure a smooth election process, select a Florida vendor with many years of electronic voting experience across the U.S. and a track record to smoothly administer the process and certify the results.

For more information on Vote-Now.com, call (888) 993-9801 or visit www.vote-now.com. 

Welcome Home

By Alan Barnes, LCAM

As you return home, reach out to your community association manager and maintenance supervisor to schedule a property tour of the completed projects and the status of ongoing projects. Receive updates on scheduled upcoming projects, events, and meetings. Offer assistance that is relevant. You and your home deserve royal service in every aspect from finances to maintenance. Here are a few thoughts for your tour:

Where are we in the budget process?
Are there any impacts from recent statute changes?
When was the last appraisal? If a condominium, the statute requires an update at least once every three years.
How old is the reserve study? Are there plans for updating it if more than three years old?
Request the checklists used by your team to see routine tasks performed.

    The above items are often overlooked; however, they are key factors in protecting your home and investment.

For more information on Castle Group, call (844) 815-5321 or visit www.castlegroup.com.

Your Roof Needs You

By Stella Amador

A roof is not like any other part of a building. It’s usually not seen or noticed until there’s a problem. It is important to know that while you were away, your roof sustained heavy rain, wind, extreme hot temperatures, foot traffic from tradesmen, etc. All of these conditions may cause roof damage that could result in costly roofing expenses.

A roof requires regular check-ups and maintenance. Here are some key things to remember:

Most roofs, whether old or new, need to be professionally inspected.
Think of a roof leak as the “tip of the iceberg.” Don’t wait; get it fixed right away.
Not all roofing companies specialize in maintenance. It is important to do your research.
If you are considering re-roofing, your roof might be able to be restored, which is a fraction of the cost of roof replacement.

Remember, your roof missed you, so now it’s time to give it some attention.

For more information on Florida Quality Roofing, call (305) 306-ROOF or visit www.FloridaQualityRoofing.com. 

Association Boards Must Get Aligned

By Jane Bolin, Esq.

The most important thing an association board can do is get aligned! All too often owners join the board and are unsure about what they are responsible for.  The board is there to create the vision for the community and execute it.  Consider that the status quo is to react to the loudest complaints, but recognize the alternative, wherby the board could take actions toward a shared future. Take the time to have a strategy meeting with your board and create a future to live into! Boards who do this have more volunteers at election season, find personal fulfillment, and have less headaches. Promise.

For more information on PeytonBolin, call (877) 739-8662 or visit www.peytonbolin.com.

Every Board’s Primary Duty

By Wendy Fasulo

Every association board member has one primary duty: protect the property and residents in your community. As this was being written, Florida was facing the imminent landfall of the first hurricane in over a decade. Waiting until the storm passes before developing a plan is too late. As a board member, you must be forward-thinking, working with your management company to be prepared well before the storm clouds gather. Dozens, even hundreds, of decisions need to be made. Do critical service contracts ensure priority emergency service? Do you have backup communications if cell phones and landlines are down? Batteries and other supplies in case power is out for an extended period? Does your association have volunteer CERTs (Community Emergency Response Teams)? As the new season begins, evaluate your association management company’s expertise in emergency preparations, and be prepared to make changes if they are found wanting. Remember your primary duty.

For more information on Elite Property Management Services, call (727) 400-6850 or visit www.elitepms.com.