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  • 04/01/2021 2:24 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Mary Harris, Architectural Signs

    Your HOA Board has asked you to get quotes for “updating the signage” but no other instruction. Where do you go from here? What exactly do they mean by “update?” Here is some basic information that will help you look like a knowledgeable rock star. 

    First and foremost, enlist the help of a professional sign person. This person needs to be someone that has experience in all types of signs, not just banners from a quick sign shop. If you do not have a good sign resource, ask your co-workers or companions in the management industry for referrals. On the first contact with the sign professional, do not hesitate to interview them as you would an assistant. Ask for years of experience and projects that they have worked on. Take a look at their website. This can save you from headaches in the future. 

    Once you have chosen your sign professional, provide them with a budget. You do not want to waste your time or theirs, so knowing the budget is key. Now that a budget has been established, ask to do a walkthrough of the property with them. This allows you the opportunity to see what they see, affording you better insight to the sign needs of the community. 

    The common types of signs in a community are monuments, street signs, stop signs, building signs, pedestrian crossing, community information kiosks, miscellaneous pools signs, and clubhouse signs. Of course, each community is unique and may have other types of signs. In this article, we’ll discuss a few of these. 

    Monument signs are typically at the entrance of the community and create the first impression of the neighborhood. Although a monument can last upwards of 30 years, it may look dated. This type of signage will typically use the bulk of your budget. An update to the monument sign can be as little as cleaning off dirt and graffiti, all the way to full replacement. Monument signs are most often constructed of some form of masonry, such as brick or stone, and metal faces or individual letters and/or logos. Some less costly, and less permanent are merely constructed of posts and panels. Ways you can update a monument are panel and letter replacement, adding lighting (currently, solar is particularly popular), re-painting the lettering/panels, and of course full replacement. 

    If the community’s streets are privately owned and maintained, the street signs will need to be evaluated. Are they faded, missing street names, leaning, or just plain ugly? The MUTCD (The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) requires the sign faces to be fabricated in high intensity reflective material; are yours? In my opinion, although private communities are not required to comply with the MUTCD regulations, it is wise to do so. It could reduce the community’s liability in the event of an accident. From an aesthetics standpoint, replacing the typical u-channel post and aluminum blades with decorative posts and sign blades can really improve the look of the community as a whole.

    Community information kiosks can be custom built to meet the specific needs of the neighborhood. They can be free standing structures or mounted to the outside of a building such as a clubhouse. They can be as simple as a glass front box with a cork board interior for posting flyers about a missing kitty- cat, or as sophisticated as an electronic LED display that can be controlled by one of the Board members. You will need to have your sign professional check with your local governing entity and establish what types of kiosks are permitted in your area. 

    Regulatory signs, and more specifically, pool rule signs are extremely important to keep clean, readable, and up to date. These signs need to be legible from a distance. Pool rules can change yearly. New legislation is the most common reason to review your sign annually. You will need to check with your insurance carrier as well to find out what verbiage they require on the sign. While we are on the subject of pool signage, you’ll need to make sure that the water depth markings surrounding the pool are in good, readable shape and accurate, as well as any other markings, such as “No Diving,” etc. 

    Those are just a few thoughts on community signage. Your sign professional should be able to educate you and your Board on all of your sign needs. I will leave you with one final piece of information: Do not feel compelled to purchase all of your signs at the same time if your community needs to spread out the expense over time. The only difference in price should be additional trip charges and possible increases in material and labor costs (which in most cases, should be nominal). 

    Mary Harris, Managing Member of Architectural Signs, has been a professional in the sign industry for more than 30 years. Architectural Signs offers custom dimensional signage locally and nationwide. Contact Mary with questions at mary@architecturalsigns.com or visit the website at http://ArchitecturalSigns.com.

  • 04/01/2021 2:18 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Andrew Harvey, AGS Construction Inc

    *2021 Titanium Sponsor*

    Many communities find themselves with a dilemma.  In the time of COVID-19, communities have many of their residents working from home or not at all.  Their daily routine consists of walking the dog, convincing their kids that online schooling is working, logging into an online meeting, talking to clients and colleagues on the phone, then walking the dog again to get out of the house in an effort not to go crazy.  This gift of time at home has led to a spike in maintenance requests.  The dilemma lies with managers and their boards trying to balance a flood of unexpected maintenance projects with a sometimes-waning budget.

    The truth is there are few communities who like to spend money unnecessarily, but what is the true cost of deferring maintenance? Deferred maintenance as defined by Wikipedia is “the practice of postponing maintenance activities...in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies.”  In other words, ignore a problem to “save” money.  In reality, maintaining a community to a high standard will always save the community in the long run and keep property values high.

    Let’s look at it hypothetically. 

    Suppose a homeowner walking her dog notices a piece of siding that doesn’t look right and reports it to their HOA manager.  The manager discusses a repair which may exceed their threshold for approval with their board who insists the building is on a five-year paint cycle and will be corrected in due time in a couple years.  

    What can happen in that span of time?  The trim and adjacent flashing may be what is keeping moisture from entering the home.  As water is allowed to enter the building via wind driven rain or snow, the building’s sheathing becomes sodden.  The moisture could continue into the building and continually soak structural framing.  With a few years of minor unobserved water intrusion, the building that was structurally sound for decades now has deteriorating sheathing and structural framing. What’s more, is inside the wall cavity there is now an environment that is prime for bio-growth.  

    Once the deterioration is finally addressed during the paint cycle, it is discovered the repair is beyond the skill set of a paint company.  Then comes the requirement for design professionals and specialized contractors to investigate the failure. Temporary shoring and weather protection must be erected and preserved to stabilize the structure and keep additional moisture at bay while a lasting repair is designed. In the meantime, prior to disturbing existing materials environmental testing for lead, asbestos, and bio-growth must be taken, analyzed, and cleared for removal. Adding to the timeline and cost of repair is permitting with a municipality, which these days can take from a few minutes to several months.  Then comes the actual repair of removing and replacing compromised materials, mitigating bio-growth, installing flashing and sealants, and applying coatings.  Often is the case there are now aesthetic interior repairs required due to minor movements within the structure, to be followed by whole site cleanup, and landscaping repairs.  

    Also consider the impact on residents for potentially weeks on end. For whatever reason the homeowner impacted most directly always seems to work from home or at night.  Beyond the interruption of work being done on a resident’s home what is the impact if the structure fails catastrophically?  While this is an extreme case, we have worked on communities that were in the process of being condemned because repairing known issues were pushed due to budgetary considerations.

    While everyone can appreciate the need to save money, consider the long-term value in engaging a professional for a minor repair at a much lower cost in order to potentially save your community tens of thousands of dollars in special assessments, additional management fees associated with a long-term project, and the frustration associated with repeatedly answering everyone’s favorite question of “when will this be done?”

    Offering over 35 years of experience in Denver, AGS Construction, Inc. has been building a reputation of being a one-of-a-kind company. AGS Construction specializes in Reconstruction and Restoration.  For more information visit www.AGSConstructionInc.com

  • 04/01/2021 2:14 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Bob Howley and Doug Smith, Irrigation Analysis, LLC

    With the worsening drought, tightening water supplies, and increasing water demand, we are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to water and unfortunately, it does not look like this situation will get better any time soon.  

    According to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) State Water Plan, our collective goal is to reduce municipal water use in the State by 400,000 acre-feet of water through conservation by 2050.  Since landscape irrigation uses roughly 50% of the municipal water supply, it is critical that we conserve as much of our landscape irrigation water use as possible in order to achieve this goal.

    Many irrigation systems are less than 50% efficient in delivering water to the plant material, or to phrase it another way, more than half of the water used for watering our landscapes is lost or wasted.

    Water costs are rising with most water providers increasing their water rates by 5% or more per year.  Beyond the water cost and budget impacts is preserving our shared water resources to sustain Colorado’s rivers and streams and the outdoor lifestyle that we all value.

    The question is: can the landscape industry in Colorado help to achieve the water use reduction goal set by the CWCB and still have attractive, healthy landscapes?

    It is important to understand and implement new technologies to upgrade and modernize irrigation systems with the intent to save water. Just like there are newer water conserving toilets and showerheads, there are more efficient spray nozzles, sprinkler heads, as well as rain and moisture sensors, and weather based, “Smart” Controllers that all can deliver water more efficiently to our landscapes.  

    High Efficiency Nozzles are a simple way to reduce water use. Multi-Stream Rotary nozzles can provide improved uniformity which in turn reduces the overall water use to an area. There are also newer fixed spray nozzles that can improve the Distribution Uniformity (DU) compared to older traditional nozzles.  

    Pressure regulation also plays a vital role in the DU by providing the optimum pressure for nozzle performance. Pressure regulating spray bodies, now required in Colorado per House Bill 19-1231, ensure that all the nozzles are operating at the same pressure.

    Flow sensors are a useful tool that provide data on flow rates and water use of an irrigation system.  They can also identify abnormal flows, and when used in conjunction with a master valve and a compatible controller, will shut the system down and potentially send alarms and alerts. This is an effective way to stop large amounts of water loss due to a pipe break or a broken head continually running during an irrigation cycle. 

    Weather based “Smart” Controllers are another great tool in saving water by adjusting run times or watering days based on daily weather patterns. There are many offerings and most operate on a similar principle although they must be understood by the system manager to deliver the savings that they can readily offer. There are some that require annual subscriptions and some that use local sensors or historical data.  If properly programmed and managed on a system that is otherwise capable of operating efficiently, these can reduce water use throughout the season.

    Web-based control takes the “Smart” Controller functionality a step further by allowing the water manager to access the controller remotely using any mobile device to review programming and make adjustments as needed, or to review any errors or alarms the controller may have generated. It can also provide alerts from the flow sensor in the event of a leak.

    What else should be considered to save water?

    Improved Maintenance and Management to repair leaks in a timely manner. “Smart” Controllers with flow sensors can help identify these when they occur. 

    Perform regular and complete system checks to make sure everything is working well. Actively manage the irrigation run times and watering days to not overwater beyond what the plant material requires. 

    Turf Conversion – we need to have and appreciate landscapes that are more water efficient and should reconsider wall to wall, high-water use bluegrass in our semi-arid environment.  Consider planting lower water use shrubs and native grasses especially in more peripheral landscape areas.  

    An Irrigation Efficiency Audit/Evaluation performed by an Irrigation Association certified, (CLIA), or Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper certified (QWEL), can provide insight to where the most practical water savings can be achieved. The audit should be in depth and look at system function, performance, and programming, and provide a detailed and actionable report about the system and how to save water.  

    The use of high efficiency products and better technology are a great way to help reduce water use in the landscape. However, it is dependent on the landscape manager to ensure that the system is operating at its peak efficiency. We all need to continue to work together to champion the cause of reducing landscape water use, and using water conserving irrigation technologies gives us a better chance to reach those goals.

    Bob Howey, Doug Smith, and Irrigation Analysis, LLC are a Colorado-based team of independent Irrigation Association and QWEL certified irrigation efficiency and water saving experts that performs Irrigation System Evaluations/Audits, Water Use Management, Water Efficient Irrigation Design, irrigation problem solving, and other related services.  Our goal is to save water by supporting larger properties and their landscapers in efficient water use.

  • 04/01/2021 2:11 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Lisa Pizzo, Prep-Rite Coatings & Contracting

    Annual inspections and preventative maintenance are an important aspect to prevent larger issues from occurring in the future on every property, large or small. It is recommended that properties are inspected every year to look for maintenance concerns.  Addressing the smaller concerns every year helps your Boards when preparing budgets and catching issues before they become larger projects or concerns.  Another proactive step is to set your property up on a phased painting schedule. This way those costs are budgeted in and the property is being maintained yearly.  Phase cycles also take the guesswork out of what needs to be done and will be set up yearly. 

    Exterior repainting is an area of exterior maintenance which we highly recommend. Paint and/or stain is an exterior coating which acts as a protectant to the surface below. Caulking and sealing, priming and painting siding, trim, fascia etc. prevents water intrusion as well as wood rot, and can maintain the integrity of a building. It can prevent water intrusion and damage to interior drywall, ceilings and residents’ belongings.

    Painting can also enhance the durability of stucco, sealing the stucco and bridging minor hairline cracks and preventing further damage.  Inspecting for failing stucco and repairing/replacing those areas are key to maintaining the integrity of your stucco surfaces. 

    Using rust inhibiting primer and DTM (Direct to Metal) paint on handrails, light poles, and metal fencing can slow the spread of rust and add additional years to the lifespan of the metal.

    Exterior maintenance should include gutter cleaning to help reduce clogged downspouts and overflowing water or ice damming along the rooflines and fascia. In addition to this, annual sealing and securing of loose gutters prevents leaks from damaging siding and trim, which can help prevent rotted wood and the expense of replacing it.

    There is also preventative maintenance to eliminate or reduce safety hazards like concrete repairs, painting curbs, and step edges to alert pedestrians of trip hazards. Salting icy steps, shoveling, and plowing can frequently damage and scrape these surfaces. Parking lot striping and curb painting can be beneficial for traffic and parking accidents as well. 

    We encourage walking fence lines to inspect loose posts or rails, not to mention, if the fencing needs to be stained or repainted to prolong the life of the wood. Inspecting for these repairs can prevent fences from falling, which can be a safety hazard for security purposes, or even to prevent the family pet from running away.

    Performing tuck pointing for brick and stone can ensure the integrity of a building or column as well as eliminating any safety concerns of falling bricks.  

    Decorative rock columns and walls also need to be inspected periodically to check for any loose stones.  Missing or loose stones can lead to interior water damage compromising the integrity of the structure as well as safety concerns of falling stones, etc. 

    Common areas are often overlooked.  Don’t forget about your pergolas, trellis, benches, tables and play structures repairs and staining reduces hazards and creates enjoyable areas for families and the community. The same is true for deck repairs and staining.

    Overall, any and all of these maintenance items will also increase the property values of the neighborhoods, reduce hazards and improve the appearance of your communities.

    Your contractor of choice should also be available to come out and walk your property and look for issues and offer direction on what the priority items are and what can wait.  Ask your contractor to attend board meetings or a property walk to show you what they are seeing and answer any questions you may have. 

  • 04/01/2021 2:08 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Adam Beier, Arapahoe County Security Center, Inc.

    For many of us, experiencing some degree of property crime, or knowing someone who has, is becoming more of the rule than the exception. With any economic downturn comes an increase in property crimes such as mail theft, vehicle burglary, package theft and burglary of homes and businesses, to name a few. While there is no mistaking the criminal intent of others as anything other than wrong, we must do more for ourselves and communities to mitigate the opportunity to fall victim to these criminal acts.

    The most successful means of security is and has always been a proactive approach to mitigating possibilities and eliminating easy targets for criminals to exploit. 

    Regarding the single and multi-family settings, many of the most compromised areas we fall victim to are also part of our daily routine. These weaknesses are easily addressed with better lighting and visibility, repairing or replacing damaged or malfunctioning lock hardware as soon as possible, and learning to recognize where we are unknowingly allowing criminals to strike.

    For instance, the cluster mailboxes we see the mailman struggle to open or properly resecure on a daily basis are easy targets, especially the decades old, extruded aluminum panel boxes. Those mailbox banks were designed for a different day and age. Times have changed and yet many of us still rely on antiquated mailbox designs. A better option here is to upgrade your communities’ cluster mailboxes to products constructed of steel and welded together, rather than pressed or riveted together or constructed of materials no longer robust enough for today’s needs. While cluster mailboxes are not inexpensive by any means, mail and identity theft can be devastating and have long-standing personal and financial impacts. Additionally, once a thief is successful in breaking into a cluster mailbox, their future success will increase with every attempt thereafter as many repair attempts are futile and very rarely address the main issue of outdated construction and materials. 

    The biggest arena we can be more vigilant in is lighting and visibility. There are endless arguments for the use of modern, white lighting and motion detection lights. There is more to be said about eliminating blind spots for criminals to operate in. Obstructing line of sight into your home or business with shrubs and trees provides you with more privacy as well as a potential burglar looking for an unlocked or poorly secured door or window. With the spring season just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about where you can eliminate those perimeter blind spots around your homes and communities. The topic of visibility seems to always parallel the idea of using surveillance cameras. Remember this, cameras are passive and oftentimes are a post-incident tool for identification and prosecution, rather than a preventative measure. Additionally, they offer very little deterrence to criminals committing petty property theft to crimes of violence. 

    Furthermore, it is time to start replacing and upgrading the security measures currently in place that only function at a fraction of their intended capacity. That residential grade door on the mail kiosk, the fence line that is falling apart, or the gate that won’t completely close on its own are all vulnerabilities that lead to additional criminal activity. It’s time to stop making temporary repairs and begin to invest in correcting security issues in a manner that will demonstrate durability and longevity. We must also remember that security is not always convenient, aesthetically pleasing, or inexpensive. The minor inconvenience created for a member of the community is a fraction of the inconvenience that a thief may experience while trying to unlawfully access the same home or business. 

    The security of your home, business, or community at large is contingent on how much we cherish our security and peace of mind. If it is important to be secure, it's more important to take the best course of action in creating that security before something happens, rather than after the fact. Providing a truly secured facility or home does not come by way of the instant gratification that a case of Ring cameras delivered to your door will provide, but rather a focused effort of identifying your real vulnerabilities and then applying pragmatic prevention. Planning, budgeting, and executing preventative measures will always outweigh how anyone reacts after they have experienced a breach of their security.

    At Arapahoe County Security Center, we pride ourselves on over 30 years of professional craftsmanship that has created satisfied customers that can trust us for life. Family owned and operated, we provide exceptional locksmithing and security service to the businesses and residents of Colorado. We specialize in monitored access control and CCTV, while also delivering results for intercom systems, custom security gates, safe openings, and more. For all of your locksmith and security solutions, give us a call at 303-745-5500. Come see us at our original location in Aurora or at our store in Parker.

  • 04/01/2021 2:02 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Josh Garcia, Denver Dryer Vent, LLC

    While cleaning the dryer vent is not on the top of every owner’s to-do list, it is a crucial activity that, when neglected, can cause increased energy bills, expensive dryer repairs, and dangerous fire hazards.  Thankfully, taking measures to keep these problems from arising is simple, only necessitating preventative dryer vent care.  

    While running, dryers create heat and humidity that needs to escape the dryer without obstruction, flowing unimpeded to the exit vent on the outside of the property.  Simple annual cleanings of your dryer vents can keep that humidity and heat from causing an accrual of lint in your ducting.  However, if dryer vents are not properly maintained, are laid out crudely, or were poorly installed, it can work against the airflow and pressure required for a functional dryer.  

    Sometimes, the problem is found in the design, layout, and/or installation of the ductwork running through walls and subfloors.  Longer dryer vents with more turns cause poor air velocity, encouraging lint accumulation and blockages.  Furthermore, the airflow exit point can also drastically affect the functionality of your dryer vent.  Sidewall exit vents are typically less expensive than other solutions, however, without protection, are prone to blockages from birds looking for a warm place to nest.  While rooftop vents seemingly pose a simple solution for owners, these vents can be significantly more expensive to install and maintain.

    Even a dryer vent with perfect ductwork and no external blockages will see buildup around the inside of the vent from lint and dust.  At one point or another, we have all been frustrated by having to dry a load of laundry a few times over, wondering why the laundry is still damp after a long dryer cycle.  This frustrating experience is often due to an accumulation of lint in the dryer vent from everyday use.  While running the load of laundry again may seem like an easy answer, running a dryer more than once to finish a load can double– or even triple– electricity costs.  On average, a clogged or poorly vented dryer will cost the owner an additional $12 – $18 a month.  Worse yet, a dirty dryer vent shortens the life of the heating element inside the dryer, leading to expensive repairs, sometimes costing upwards of $200.

    So, what does it look like to have a dryer vent cleaned? There are several options, and some may be preferred while others are more necessary due to the layout and design of a property. When possible, we always recommend a full-service cleaning.  In a full-service cleaning, the technician inspects your dryer vent and the flex hose that attaches to the wall, they will then run a rotating brush and rods through the duct line (like a snake) and push and pull the lint out via forced air and suction.  This “scrubbing” of the duct is ideal and is often necessary on the most difficult or clogged vents. Another option for larger complexes where there may not be severe blockage, but rather, a need for simple routine cleaning for 100 or more units, the technicians can clean the dryer vent from the outside of the property using a compressed airline and spinning head that feeds through the duct and pushes forced air back out towards the exit, essentially blowing out the lint. This, while maybe not as detailed as entering the property, is still a fantastic way to take preventative care and is more affordable when budget or entrance into units is an issue.

    Finally, beyond the improved energy costs and reduction in appliance repair risks, one of the most important benefits is the improvement of fire safety. It’s important to remember that dryers are a large electric heat source, so they need to be ventilated properly.  Otherwise, the accumulation of lint in the back of the dryer creates the perfect kindling to create a blazing house fire.  Over 2,900 dryer fires are reported in the US every year, of which, a large potion are due to lack of proper maintenance.  Regularly cleaning the vent of all lint and dust is the best way to minimize this risk. 

    Ultimately, there are many ways to clean your dryer ducting to reduce financial and safety risks, according to your individual needs.  For more information, to get a quote for your vents, or for answers regarding your community’s dryer vent care, feel free to reach out!

    Denver Dryer Vent is a locally owned Colorado based company that offers dryer vent cleaning, installation, and repair for both residential and commercial properties. 

    For more information on how to get your dryer vents up and running, feel free to visit our website at denverdryervent.com or shoot us an email at codryervent@gmail.com.

  • 04/01/2021 1:59 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Chuck Hormuth, Aspen Group

    Most managers and owners are pressed for time and have budget constraints that make roof tune-ups feel like a luxury rather than a necessary maintenance function.  However, if done correctly, roof tune-ups will save time, frustration, and money.

    Let’s start with what a roof tune-up is. A roof tune-up is designed to address problems before they become a major issue.  A roofing professional can usually do a tune-up in a half day to a day, depending on the size of the roof.  The roof tune-up begins with a roof inspection. Inspections evaluate and document the exposed components of the roofing system.  The second step in the process is the actual roof tune-up.  The roof tune-up addresses the issues identified in the inspection.  Typical remediations include ensuring there are no exposed nail heads, that the pipe jack seals are in good condition, there are no missing or damaged shingles, the gutter system is able to perform properly, and there are no obvious issues with caulking or flashing.  Repairs completed during the inspection and when there isn’t an active issue are typically easier and less expensive.  

    A professional roofing tune-up should also include an inspection report with photos, which will also ensure you have documentation of the condition of your roof on a yearly basis.  This has proved extremely helpful for some of our clients during insurance claims as some insurers will use the lack of documented maintenance as a reason for denying a claim.  

    Having good documentation of the condition of your property’s roofs can also help you during a hail claim. In recent years, some insurance companies have started denying claims asserting the client’s hail damage is “old hail damage,” shifting the burden of proof back on the association or ownership group. By having a yearly inspection report with pictures, you will be in a better position to accurately file a timely claim and you will have documentation of the roof condition prior to your established date of loss with the insurance carrier.  

    Many roof leaks we repair after-hours are due to minor issues that a roof tune-up would have corrected.  A single roof leak repair will often cost more than the cost of an entire roof tune-up.  Leaks cause after-hour calls to management, unforeseen expenses, and possibly issues with relocation of tenants.  As a manager, roof leaks can also be the most disruptive to your schedule as they require immediate responses and seem to happen during evenings and weekends due to Murphy’s Law. 

    Some manufacturers state that you can extend the life of your roof by up to 5 years by performing yearly inspections, which can save you thousands and even hundreds of thousands.  While it does feel we all have less time and tighter budgets, we hope you see why a yearly roofing inspection will save you both time and money in the long run. 

    If you have any questions or would like to see a sample inspection report, please feel free to reach out to the author at chuck@aspengroupco.com.  

    Aspen Group has been serving the exterior reconstruction needs of HOA community since 2012, specializing in roofing, painting, and siding.  

  • 04/01/2021 1:57 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Stephane Dupont, The Dupont Law Firm

    With Spring finally upon us, community associations and homeowners alike are planning for necessary repairs and renovations. Particularly in condominium and townhome communities, there can be a great deal of confusion and ambiguity surrounding who is financially responsible to either insure or maintain and repair a particular improvement.

     An association’s covenants define the various maintenance and repair obligations for both homeowners and the association and also address who is responsible for insuring buildings and other improvements. However, those covenants often contain conflicting or ambiguous language which make it very difficult, time consuming, and impractical to determine who is required to repair or insure a particular item. Community association managers and board members are frequently inundated with questions from owners seeking immediate answers relating to their various maintenance and insurance obligations. This often requires the assistance of legal counsel, perhaps at a significant cost, if the inquiries are numerous. If your Association’s covenants are vague and appear ‘outdated’, you will likely face an incessant and frustrating journey dealing with these issues. 

    Fortunately, an Association can request that their legal counsel prepare a maintenance and insurance chart that specifically addresses the vast majority of maintenance and insurance related obligations in a matrix or chart like format. For example, a chart created for a condominium association may address who is responsible for maintaining or replacing exterior doors, plumbing, or a limited common element patio while also providing guidance on who is required to insure those improvements.  This information is not only useful to boards and community association managers but can also be disseminated to homeowners to help clarify their obligations. Ultimately, this helps minimize further inquiries to the board and/or community association manager and deters unnecessary litigation brought by owners who may not properly understand their maintenance and insurance obligations. 

    Stephane Dupont is an attorney with The Dupont Law Firm and has over 21 years of experience representing common interest communities in general business, collection, and litigation related matters.

  • 04/01/2021 1:50 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Travis Dunn, Denver Commercial Property Services

    Did you know concrete is used more than any other man-made material in the world?  

    It is everywhere you look. We all use concrete in our daily travels and it is often where you live and where you work. One of the most attractive benefits of concrete is its low initial cost and diverse usability.  When you think of concrete, you might reason it is bulletproof and in need of little maintenance or care…it’s concrete after all, what could possibly go wrong?  

    Although it might be pretty affordable, highly functional, and extremely durable, if left without proper care it can become a source of liability, costly repairs, and maintenance.  All concrete, regardless of where it is placed, needs some sort of protection.

    Remember that floors are subject to all kinds of abuse, load, impact, exposure to chemicals, thermal shock, and the list goes on. 

    If exposed to the elements, then consider moisture in that equation as well.  Water might be our lifeblood but it is the worst enemy to your concrete.  Concrete in all its glory comes with more than one Achilles heel; a couple to mention is that it is extremely porous, and it is guaranteed to crack!  Compressive strength might be a pro but tensile strength is a definite con.  Due to the lack of flexibility in concrete, and its likelihood to crack, your elevated structures such as decks, parking garages, etc. are reinforced with structural steel. Combine steel and water and you get corrosion, which expands causing your concrete to crack leading to structural failure.  

    There are many types of waterproof coatings and sealants to consider when looking for the best protection.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that one size fits all.  

    Polyurethane, acrylic, and epoxy coatings are among the most common types of coatings selected to waterproof and protect concrete substrates.  Within those 3 categories alone you have literally thousands of systems and brands to choose from depending on your specific needs.  It would be impossible to take all systems and variables into consideration but here are just a few of the things to consider when selecting the right approach to your needs;

    • Do you need it to be flexible and elastomeric or do you prefer a more rigid and wear resistant surface? 
    • Aesthetics; do you want something decorative or will a simple solid color or clear coat finish suffice?
    • Is clean-ability, non-slip, or something in the middle right for your situation?
    • What kind of longevity is needed and what kind of traffic is the area subjected to?
    • How quick of a turnaround do you need?

    No matter how many considerations you have to take into account, there are several solutions that might fit your needs.  The selection of concrete coatings has never been greater, and for this reason you need a partner you can count on.  Floor protection, whether its elevated, on grade, interior, exterior, mechanical rooms, hallways or parking structures require careful and considerable assessment to determine the appropriate solution.  

    The selection process below should be followed to achieve a desirable outcome;

    1. Observe conditions
      • Regular onsite engineer assessments of the surfaces condition and exposure.
      • Once the onsite engineer can predict a potential concern, have a qualified contractor provide a free observation of conditions determine the needs of you as the client.

    1. Consider the effects of delayed or deferred maintenance 
    • Upon meeting with the qualified contractor, determine the safety concerns, hazards, regulations, and/or consequences that might arise if not immediately performed.  Often projects are deferred, and costlier repairs or incidence occur due to a lack of understanding the risks were you properly informed.

    1. Evaluate needs and performance requirements
    • Aesthetics, slip resistance, exposure to chemicals, traffic type and frequency, turnover time, odor and noise restrictions, thickness, warranty period, clean-ability, and other factors.
    • It is also critical to consider not only the coating (if any) but the full assembly, such as the substrate and its surrounding components (metal pan deck, cast in place, twin t, on-grade, suspended, etc.).

    1. Select the right contractor
    • Experience, references, years in the industry, knowledge, good communication, etc. are all key indicators of a good partner.

    1. Obtain warranty and general maintenance guidelines
    • Understand realistic expectations of the system
    • Maintain practices set forth in the warranty documents to uphold the warranty

    In summary, when it comes to concrete coatings and maintenance, you need a partner you can count on.  

    About the author: 

    Travis Dunn is an industry leader with extensive knowledge in all aspects of concrete coatings, repair, maintenance, and waterproofing. Travis has over 2 decades of experience applying, instructing, and consulting clients on best solutions for budgeting and specifying specialty coatings and waterproofing assemblies.

    Denver Commercial Property Services (DCPS) is the largest single source company in Colorado. You can rely on us to service all your Waterproofing/Coatings, Painting, Asphalt, and Landscaping needs for your HOA and multi-family properties.   

  • 02/01/2021 12:21 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

    By Nicole Hernandez, PCAM, CB Insurance

    We have faced a lot of new frontiers as a community this year—Zoom meetings, increased digital sharing of information, how to safely open community common areas, how to allow business partners to complete their work at the community without disrupting concerned residents—all while handling the additional influx of action items and working in a new environment and social culture.  

    Through all of these experiences, exposure to liability has been fresh on the minds of those who serve the HOA community.  It seems that every adjustment we make to this new world brings with it the question of liability, and adjoining that, the question of “Do I have insurance coverage for this?”

    Every action we take inadvertently contains some potential liability. It is important that we focus not on avoiding liability all together but on taking proper action to limit the most common forms of liability currently found in Community Associations.

    General Liability 

    One of the biggest exposures Community Associations experience is slip and falls. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful state that allows us to experience a wide array of weather, but with that comes the need for ice treatment. A proper snow removal contract directing that snow removal be performed at a specific threshold is essential, but so is proper ice treatment. Things like ensuring good lighting and railings near any stairs or steps in the community and keeping up with maintenance, and correcting drainage or grading issues, will also help manage exposure to potential liability.  

    However, there are more property exposures that could give rise to a general liability claim. One of the most interesting claims I experienced in my prior role as a community manager was a gutter leak that ended up triggering response under the general liability portion of the package policy. Although the physical repair was related to the gutter, the circumstances of the situation provided for response under the general liability portion of the policy. This is one of the big reasons why we encourage insureds to hold all of their policies with one agent—the agent can handle the claim with all carriers and coverages that may provide response.

    It is important to keep this in mind when addressing maintenance items such as a burned-out light bulb or a raised sidewalk that has become a trip hazard. Safety items that sit too long without being addressed properly could potentially impact the Association’s liability. Of course, weather delays and scheduling are taken into consideration, but this is where strong relationships with your contractors become valuable. Maintenance checks (especially related to potential hazards) should be completed regularly, and the more eyes on the property, the better.

    Directors & Officers Liability (D&O)

    It always surprises me when HOA’s choose not to carry D&O coverage. This is the coverage that protects the Board of Directors from actions and decisions that are made within their scope of duties as a board member. Most of the claims we see under D&O coverage are non-monetary allegations of wrongdoing. Common examples of these claims are: Discrimination, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and Breach of Contract. These types of claims can often be limited or excluded all together, so it is important to review each policy to ensure that coverage is included.

    It seems so simple, but the best way a Board can avoid these types of liability claims is to implement proper and reasonable policies and enforce them fairly and consistently. Collection policies, Covenant Enforcement policies, and Conduct of Meeting policies (among others) are all required by CCIOA. Now is a great time to pull out those policies, review them, and work with your attorney to provide relevant updates. Most importantly, be sure to follow them equally. 

    Worker’s Compensation

    As we know, when things go wrong, they can be catastrophic. That is certainly the case when we are talking about workers’ compensation. An executed contract that clearly specifies the scope of work is essential. Ensuring that contractors have proper insurance and implementing a code of conduct are additional steps that can be taken to protect the Association from claims. Indemnification provisions should also be discussed and written to ensure the Association is not unknowingly taking on liability for the contractor and the contractor’s employees. Regular evaluations and open communication will ensure that all parties stay on the same page as the contract progresses. 

    Data Breach Response

    This is currently a hot button issue. With more people than ever working in alternate environments, we are utilizing technology and sharing information digitally more than ever. Although I know we are all diligent about personal information (especially relating to finance), it can be easy to let your guard down or simply forget. Staying alert and verifying requests will help protect HOAs from potential exposure by anyone wishing to harm the Association. Protecting passwords and keeping security software up to date are simple steps that anyone can take to protect themselves.

    Potential issues can be overwhelming. If the Association is dedicated to ensuring smart business practices, the liability minefield will be much less of a danger. 

    Nicole Hernandez is a specialty insurance professional in the Denver Metro area focused on helping Community Associations build highly effective risk management programs. With 19 years of HOA experience, Nicole uses her results-oriented personality to provide knowledge and expertise to her role. 

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