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Transitions in Condominiums

Latest "Common Foundations" Article - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:56

All things are in transition.  Nature, the Patriots, and condo communities go through transitions.  In the world of condos many of these transition milestones are well understood, many are not.  Most know condos go through a transition management period from the developer to unit owner, but there is much more.  Condo transition has two primary elements:  Transition of Control and Transition of Responsibility.

Transition of Control refers to the new Board being primarily managed by the unit owners.  It is often useful for the developer to have some representation on this new board.  Prior to this new Board forming all available condo documents and records should be gathered and reviewed.  At this point the new Board may want to engage an attorney to assist in this process of collecting  the executed bylaws; filed articles; public offering statement;  financial records; meeting minutes; construction plans; maintenance records; insurance policies; warranties; service contracts; and unit files.

Care should be taken in engaging their attorney as not all attorneys have experience in representing transitioning associations.  This attorney should be well versed in collections and reviewing policy resolutions as well as initial contracts.  Similarly, experience in dealing with construction quality claims and defect resolution is very important.  The new Board will also be relying on this attorney to review financial issues as they present themselves.

The Board should also consider implementing a Transition Study.  This study often includes hiring an engineering firm to compare the condo project drawings and specifications to actual common element conditions to render an opinion on whether the Board should accept the facilities as is or conditionally until deficiencies are corrected.  These deficiencies arise from the discovery of violation of industry standards or building codes; failure to follow plans and specifications; design deficiencies; and product failure.

Some of the most useful project documents, if they are available, include ‘as-built’ construction drawings; approved site drawings and land surveys; landscaping plants showing all plantings and planned grounds amenities; list of contractors and service providers and their contact information; and an inventory of all major building elements and their manufacturers.

In parallel with the engineering effort, the Board may also hire a forensic accountant to review the developer’s use of unit owners’ funds to operate the facilities until the transition is completed.

The Transition of Responsibility refers to the moment in time the developer (declarant) transfers one or more common elements to the unit owner Board.  In large condo complexes, Certificates of Substantial Completion are issued as major common elements such as clubhouses; pools; or building phases are put into service.  These certificates are often controlled by professional engineers engaged by the developer or new Board.

Transition issues not only rest with the condo association but also the local community will take a part in the process.  Cope enforcement officers will be inspecting the property throughout the project life to insure the buildings meet current building and energy codes.  Local Fire Marshals and planning boards will be reviewing project documents to ensure both life safety and compliance with local standards.  Some of the common elements such as landscaping and storm water infrastructure may also have performance bonds in place to guarantee the site plans are completed as approved.

Though the new Board may not be aware of it, the local planning board and as well as the building inspection department of the municipality vetted this project whether it was a newly constructed facility or a conversion of a former multi-family building or other commercial structure.  Many Maine cities and towns have enacted condo conversion ordinances based on the Portland and South Portland model ordinances.  These ordinances’ purpose is to ensure the new condominium will meet the minimum standards set by the community for structural stability; mechanical / electrical requirements; and life safety features.    What this means for the new Board is there may be resources and history available at the local level to assist in the transition process.

Transition continues for the life of a condo community.  A good transition process will provide the basis for the understanding of standards of common element condition including building envelope; mechanical systems; life safety; and grounds.  These standards will contribute to reserve fund estimates of estimated useful lives and form a good foundation to develop both operating and capital repair budgets.  With these budgets the cash flow analysis can be performed resulting in a rational projection of future assessments to meet future spending needs.  With this road map future boards and their new members will be able to easily transition to their new roles as future leaders of a successful condo community.

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Article written by Jack Carr, P.E., R.S., LEED AP, Criterium Engineers

Published in Condo Media, January, 2019

Download a PDF Copy of this Condo Media Article

The post Transitions in Condominiums appeared first on Criterium Engineers.

Categories: Criterium Engineers

Turn the Water Tank Temp Up or Down? It's a Hot Question.

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 09:46

Is your hot water safe??   Too hot and you can be seriously burned.  Not hot enough and your hot water may harbor dangerous bacteria.   It’s not a simple question!!

What’s the “correct” temperature at which to set a water heater?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Stairways and Decks Aren’t Safe Unless their Railings Are Secure

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:19

You’re standing in the basement waiting for a friend, who is following you down the stairs.  Missing a step, your friend reaches for the railing, which breaks away from the wall.  This will not end well for your friend, who may be seriously injured or worse; and it may not end well for you, because of the law suit and liability claim that will follow, and the friendship that will almost certainly end.

This isn’t an article about the importance of having adequate insurance; it’s about the importance of having secure railings on your stairs.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Home Fires are Common, Deadly and Preventable - August, 2017

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:14

Fire safety probably isn’t high on the list of concerns for buyers when they purchase a home.  But the statistics indicate that it should be. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in the United States:

  • Most fire-related deaths (more than 80 percent of them last year) occur in residences.
  • More than 4,000 people die and 25,000 are injured in fires every year.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Building Code Myths Create Liability Risks for Real Estate Professionals - March 2017

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 15:29

If we were writing a Steven King-style horror movie, it might begin with a real estate broker discussing all the attractive features of a new home.  After noting the “brilliant design,” the high ceilings, state-of-the art kitchen and the exciting architectural details, the broker happily, assures the buyer, “The house is fully compliant with the building code, so you can be confident that it has no structural defects and that the construction quality is superb.” Cue the eerie music and note the black storm clouds forming in the sky. 

Why is this a horror story?  

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Water Intrusion | Volume 25, Number 1

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Thu, 12/22/2016 - 11:33

“Water, water everywhere” is not what you want to be thinking as you’re staring through the windows of the restaurant, drug store and appliance shop that are tenants in the building you own. 

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Water Inside Your Building Means Something Is Wrong on the Outside - Nov, 2016

Latest "Common Foundations" Article - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:35

“Water, water everywhere” is not what you want to be thinking as you’re standing in the living room of a townhouse condominium unit or peering into the lobby of a high rise.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

How Can My Association Go Solar?

Latest "Common Foundations" Article - Fri, 04/01/2016 - 14:50
How Can My Association Go Solar?

It’s no surprise that solar panels have started popping up all over the area.  Solar can drastically reduce electric bills, protect against the rising cost of energy, boost U.S. energy independence, protect the environment and more.

The cost of solar panels has decreased significantly over the years and continues to drop.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Cost Segregation Studies

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:53

Depreciation enters significantly into the financial performance of commercial buildings. Typically, property, exclusive of land, is depreciated over 39 years.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Don’t forget the roof!

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Tue, 02/10/2015 - 14:41
Building owners and managers: add roof to your snow removal checklist.

Several areas of the US are currently experiencing heavy and frequent snowfalls.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Multifamily Radon Testing and Mitigation Requirements

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Fri, 01/09/2015 - 14:54
What does it mean to building owners, investors, and property managers?

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Is Radon Risk Real?

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 12:00

You have heard of radon. Perhaps you have tested your home or the home you intended to buy for the presence of radon gas. If so, when you received the results, did you take any action? Did you install a mitigation pump or even refuse to purchase the home?

Is radon risk real? There is a wealth of information out there. Let’s review some facts. Let’s look at what leading agencies are saying.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Failing Facades

Latest "Common Foundations" Article - 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

Engineering Advisor Bulletin

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Tue, 01/21/2014 - 13:14

National Engineers Week, founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understan

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Retaining Walls

Latest "Your Home" Article - Mon, 12/23/2013 - 11:21

What is a retaining wall? To retain, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means “to hold secure or intact.” A retaining wall, then, holds something “secure or intact.” Typically, as it matters to homeowners, the “something” is soil on a slope or at a higher elevation that, if left on its own, will not remain “secure and intact.”

Retaining walls come in many shapes, sizes and materials. This issue of YOUR HOME will examine a few of them.

Why Retaining Walls?

Have you ever looked around your property to see if you have retaining walls?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Red Flags that Signal Structural Defects

Latest "Common Foundations" Article - 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

A Few Words About WINTER....

Latest "Your Home" Article - Fri, 12/13/2013 - 13:04

Seen on a Maine license plate - BRRRRR. When it comes to winter, that says it all!

But what of our houses in winter? Think about it. Is your home winter-time safe?

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Categories: Criterium Engineers

Snow on the Roof

Latest "Engineering Advisor" Article - Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:44
The Basics

What this means for building owners is that snow is a concern in most areas, yet unpredictable from year to year.

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Categories: Criterium Engineers