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Latest "Common Foundations" Article

Failing Facades

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 09:43
What's a Board to Do?

It is Inevitable
No matter what type of building you live in, one day, the facade will begin to fail. Whether it is water infiltration, cracking wood, spalling concrete or crumbling brick, it’s only a matter of time before you have failing facade.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Red Flags that Signal Structural Defects

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 13:17

Although the housing market has slowed, approximately 80 percent of new construction is still being built as a community association. The recent boom in the housing market has led more people to purchase condominiums and townhouses on impulse, without the benefit of several walk-throughs or an inspection by a Professional Engineer. More than likely, this has happened in your community as well. But what does it mean for the association and its residents?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Defer, Replace, Improve

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:44
Those involved in providing reserve studies (engineers and accounting managers) perform a valuable function. They can tell you how much to put aside today for tomorrow's capital expenditures, as they have it down to a science.

There is also an art to reserve studies that is rarely discussed.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Let's Caulk

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 10:16

Perhaps by now the March wind-driven weather has convinced the Board it has water infiltration problems, not to mention air infiltration issues.  Interior gypsum board ceilings and walls are starting to stain; floors are beginning to get wet and warp; and unit owners are complaining of mold formation.  Often the answer is not façade re-siding or a new roof surface but rather a need for new caulk.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Road Weary

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:55

If you have a major paving job for your condo complex, it is best not to wait till the last minute. Now is the time to plan and get your best prices before spring has sprung.

When it comes to paving projects, often the Board needs an education on the paving issues and options available. There is a lot of misinformation out there. There is no better way to have a meeting’s agenda go astray than when no one knows the difference between or benefits of seal coating and a binder top.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

The Inflation Dilemma

Tue, 12/20/2011 - 12:22

Inflation is something we’ve not paid much attention to for many years. Since the 1980s, inflation has averaged almost negligible amounts in most years. Furthermore, we’ve grown used to making investments that approximate or at least keep us ahead of inflation based on our rate of return. Those days may be over.

Divergence of Indices

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Specifications - Key to a Successful Job

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:10

Managing a capital budget and expenditures for a community association involves greater responsibility and risk than it does for one’s own home. This edition of Common Foundations addresses some of those differences and ways to control the process to assure a positive outcome.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

That Noise is Driving Me Crazy!

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 13:15

Community living has many benefits.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Energy Conservation in Community Associations

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 13:00

With existing buildings consuming 40 percent of our energy supply, they represent a logical and necessary target for energy conservation measures. In this issue of Common Foundations,our goal is not to convince you that energy conservation makes sense. Most of us can agree that it does. However, community associations represent an ownership class with a wide range of needs, opportunities, and responsibilities. In this issue, we try to address what a prudent board might do with regard to energy conservation, depending on the type of associ

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

How Much is Enough?

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:50

How much should our association keep in our reserve fund? is a question we are often asked. At first blush, the answer seems simple – enough to cover all anticipated expenditures over the reserve period. Upon further analysis, the answer is not so simple at all. A number of inter-related factors may affect this decision dramatically.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

You Can Meet the Challenges

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:43

Recently, we spoke with about two dozen community association professionals – property managers, association managers, lawyers, and engineers. Our objective was to learn how they dealt with the real challenges that we must face every day. In this issue of Common Foundations, we would like to share what we learned in the hope that this collective wisdom will be of some help to you as well.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Managing an Association?

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:32

In the last two years, FannieMae has amended its guidelines for selling and serving mortgages on condominiums, cooperatives, and planned unit developments three times. Why should we, as service providers to and managers of community associations, care?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Municipal and Association Responsibility

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:25
Where does the Town End and the Community Begin?

Homeowners new and old to association living question why they have to pay monthly dues or assessments, particularly for items such as trash removal and sidewalk repair. Aren’t those covered by the local municipal government? In reality, these services are quickly becoming the sole responsibility of community associations across the country.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

When a Critical Component Fails Early

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:02

It happens to even the most prepared of associations. The roof that was supposed to last 25 years starts leaking after only 15. A harsh winter takes its toll on the parking lot and you’re suddenly faced with a large re-paving project 5 years before anticipated. The elevators in a high-rise are constantly out of order, despite their being only 20 years old. These items will need to be immediately replaced or extensively renovated – which means unexpectedly using a significant portion of your reserve budget.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Winter 2006 - Red Flags that Signal Structural Defects

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 11:49

Although the housing market has slowed, approximately 80 percent of new construction is still being built as a community association. The recent boom in the housing market has led more people to purchase condominiums and townhouses on impulse, without the benefit of several walk-throughs or an inspection by a Professional Engineer. More than likely, this has happened in your community as well. But what does it mean for the association and its residents?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Is Your Community Dressed For Success?

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 11:43

Have you ever driven by a community and instinctively known its residents take great pride in where they live? The homes are all in excellent shape, with attractive landscaping and complementary exterior finishes on every one. The roads are free of litter and freshly paved, and the common grassy areas are neatly mowed with bright flowers dotting the perimeter.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Outdoor Safety in Associations

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 11:36

Summer is the peak season for homeowners—barbecues, swimming, ultimate Frisbee tournaments, and relaxing on the front porch. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for increased accidents and personal injuries. Most accidents occur at home, including outdoor and association common areas, and too many of them are preventable.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Community Essentials: Are you Reserving for Siding?

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 11:29

As associations continue to discover the benefit of reserve studies and the long-range planning options they provide, some Boards also unearth some less-pleasant realities about their current funding—especially where siding is concerned. The idea that siding should last “as long as the building” or at least in the 40-year range has been a common misconception of Board members and property managers. The truth is, your building’s siding takes the brunt of the elements and can deteriorate more quickly than expected.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Repair, Replace, or Renovate?

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 11:11
How to Maintain Value and Improve Efficiency

Some associations struggle with long-range vision, especially if it means spending large amounts of money. It’s not realistic for a board to plan for the exact property value 10 years down the road or rely on an outdated reserve study to predict the remaining useful life of all common elements. But making it up as you go along is clearly a recipe for disaster! What’s a board to do?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Spring Into A Maintenance Schedule

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 10:38

WINTER is drawing to a close, and your residents are eager to replace the snow shovels with tennis rackets. However, it’s not too late to implement an ongoing maintenance plan that will save your association time and money for many seasons to come.

View your association as a complete network with many important pieces working together, and ensure that each system is functioning properly.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers