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Making the most of any  community’s operating budget and improving the lifestyles of its residents.

Making the most of any community’s operating budget and improving the lifestyles of its residents.

  • Posted: May 31, 2017
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Working with vendors is a large part of serving on the board of a managed community.

Every community has outside partners for services like landscaping, sanitation, cable and Internet provision, pool maintenance, plumbing, blacktop, valet services and more. Finding and learning what they do and how they can help. Many people ask if its the Management company to find the best companies for the properties? Well we have found that Boards help in the selecting of the right companies. They give their suggestions to the Management companies. This way favoritism does not take place. Laws are being changed as we speak that will prevent this for Florida’s Property Management Industry.

Open and effective communication among the board, the management company and the vendors employed by the association is an important part of making the most of any community’s operating budget and improving the lifestyles of its residents. Focusing on great communication and why it matters.

Sherwin-Williams

What can happen if communication among those entities isn’t consistent, open and effective? “Ineffective communication with vendors can cost your community money, but more importantly, it can result in loss of trust,” according to Frank Mari, executive director of SFPMA.ORG  “That means trust that the residents have in both the management company and the board, and also the trust the board has in the management company to manage vendors and recommend the right vendors for the community. As they need qualified vendors they find many on SFPMA’s Members Directory to select from.”

Poor communication with vendors can cost your association money too. If you don’t understand the details in a contract and don’t keep an open line for questions and clarifications, you may not realize that your community isn’t getting the services you think you are signing up for…. and then you will need to pay for the missing elements separately, impacting your operating budget.

Mr.Mari says “Talk to your landscaper in the middle of winter, not just spring and summer,” he directed. “If you’re an auditor, check in with the board and management company a few times of year, not just when the audit needs to be done.” Call them ask them to do a walk through of your buildings and communities, Preventive Maintenance is Key.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your current property management maintains open communication with vendors, ask! It’s important to make sure that outside vendors operate in the best interests of your community. We are all well-versed in the importance of vendor relationships and effective communication,” Frank explained. “Boards appreciate that we bring that additional level of support. Because of the trust we create with our vendors, almost any situation between boards and vendors can be resolved fairly.”

Speaking the language A basic part of communication is simply understanding the language each party is speaking. Most board members are not going to be experts in all the areas of running a
managed community, but it’s important that you have a basic knowledge of the terminology being used. Board members are expected and required to execute contracts related to things like
landscaping and other topics they may not be previously familiar with,” Talk to your Property Manager and include your Law Firm with contracts. “That fiduciary responsibility means that they need to understand what they are signing, what the work entails. It’s not enough to just consider price. Board members need to know more about what vendors are doing in order to make sure it’s being done.”

All HOA and Condo boards should be involved early in vendor selection discussions and leave the details of execution to the management company. It is important the board communicate any critical elements of their vision for the community to the vendor and be clear about what they require from each potential vendor they meet with. Board members must know enough to
understand what they should expect, what level of service is being provided for their community and what reasonable expectations are for that vendor. A landscaping company
that cares for a dozen large properties isn’t going to hand-prune every shrub, but that may be what some board members expect because they don’t yet understand the basics of large-scale landscaping,” “Of course, a self-managed community is going require more knowledge from the board members as far as monitoring the work being done and knowing that contracts are being fulfilled properly. Having a professional management company involved takes that responsibility off board members, because we know best practices, thanks to our experience managing multiple communities.” If you are looking for a Management Company

Find Top Florida Companies on our Members Directory.

How can boards and management companies know they are up-to-date on the terminology and jargon being used by their vendors? Many management companies are SFPMA Members themselves, With this membership there are educational seminars or round tables that let board members hear directly from vendors. “In addition to our in-house educational opportunities, I suggest that board members go to home shows, garden shows and other trade events so they can interact directly with vendors and pick up literature on the latest techniques and products,”.

sfpma.com - network, educate with Florida's Property management industryI tell my members to spend time at meetings, seminars and expos at every one of them get to know the vendors, Collect brochures.  Build those relationships. Listen to the keynote speakers as well. Over the years, vendors have shared with me how they have been impacted by SFPMA and how it makes them want to be part of our success. Obviously, you learn a lot that you take back to their boards and educate them on new information.

All of our members, partners and board members are asked to focus on professional development and educational opportunities that are offered by our Association to our Industry. vendors in many different disciplines host events that allow property managers to earn continuing education credits, and that many welcome board member attendance as well.

When you get to know vendors, you’re ready to work with them as partners, to optimize your community association’s budget and improve the lifestyles of the residents in your community.

South Florida Property Management Association can help you work with vendors to make the most of your association’s budgets by learning about the Top Companies working in our Industry.

www.sfpma.org

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What you can’t see is often more important than what you can.

What you can’t see is often more important than what you can.

  • Posted: Feb 09, 2017
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When talking about people we often say it’s what is on the inside that counts, well the same can be said for condominiums. What you can’t see is often more important than what you can.

Many associations came about when developers converted apartment buildings into condos. Others in south Florida are just getting old and while it might not always be obvious on the outside a look inside the walls, under the slab or in the elevator equipment room will give you a better picture of the problems that lurk beneath the surface. All of these things have useful life’s and tend to wear out over time.

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Gyms in your Building:  Will owners use it?

Gyms in your Building: Will owners use it?

  • Posted: Oct 08, 2015
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Gyms in your Building: Will owners use it? Funding it with condo funds? What you will need with Development? Expert advice? upkeep and questions? We spoke with Commercial Fitness Products, and its Owner Richard Wasserlauf 5034 Hiatus Road Sunrise, Florida 33351 I can think of a building we worked on a short time ago bringing a new designed fitness facility in their condo. The committee figured they’d be able to pay that money back to the reserve in five years, assuming 25 percent of the building’s residents would join. (“It was guesswork,” says Richard.) They charged a one-time sign-up fee of $300 and $250 per year for the first person in a unit and $150 for each additional unit resident. “They paid it back in less than two years,” says Richard. Sixty-five of the building’s100 units belong to the gym—84 residents altogether. The early success enabled the committee to cut the yearly fee in half, to $125. “They still covered operating costs,” says Richard, “and allocate about $3,000 a year for equipment replacement—which hasn’t been necessary yet—and continue to contribute $2,000 to $3,000 a year to the reserve fund.” The Building, a 27-story, 156-unit cooperative in Manhattan is a success story. working with developers and board members, helped get the gym project done, converting a 500-square-foot room in the basement into a gym with a budget of a mere $30,000 taken from the reserve fund. Residents pay $225 per year for membership. “The gym has about 100 members today,” says Richard. “We’re well ahead of the game. The membership dues more than replenishes the reserve that we took out for it, and pays for the upkeep.” he adds that, “The building has a healthy turnover of apartments and 90 percent of new buyers join the gym.”   Building the Gym Buying workout equipment is the easiest part of the build-out. “A lot of people think they are going to take the bike room, put equipment in it, paint the walls, and call it a day,” observes Richard Wasserlauf, Owner of Commercial Fitness Products, a leading gym equipment retailer. “In Sunrise Florida, that is not going to cut it.” The first thing you need to need to consider, advises Richard, “is what construction and code obstacles you might need to overcome to pull the project off.” Potential problems include open asbestos, lead paint on the walls, mold or fungus problems, and particularly in basement spaces, pipes that sweat in the summer. Basement spaces also have the issue of exposed pipes, conduits and drain lines. As older buildings replace systems, they often leave old piping, electrical conduits and phone lines in place. Each should be tested and removed if inactive. HVAC is perhaps the most important system in the facility. To meet city code, the gym space must have 15 percent fresh air flowing into the space. If the proposed space for the gym is not already equipped with central air conditioning, ducting will need to be installed if the room does not have a window. If there is a window, you need to install a unit with adequate power. “You’re looking to maintain 68° year round—that often means running a cooling system practically year round,” says Richard, both for safety and comfort—to keep members coming back to the club. If there is any sort of landing or ledge outside the window on which to set a compressor, Heidings recommends a split system, available for around $2,000. Another important code issue with which the gym room must conform is egress—providing a clear and unencumbered path out of the room if there is an emergency such as a fire or loss of power.   Bring in a Pro To get a clear and objective evaluation of the condition of the room, and to get an idea of the construction costs entailed, it’s best to consult an architect right up front, says Richard. “If you find that your construction costs are very high, you may just say this is just something we cannot afford right now—or ever,” unless or until there is a more suitable space available in the building. Some of the major design challenges is inclusion of light. Most often spaces designed for this purpose are in basements or underutilized rooms, and may not have natural light to make the space breathable. Lighting design, therefore, becomes very important. Many gyms find that fluorescent in fixtures aimed upward to soften the light are an effective and inexpensive alternative to high-end lighting. You should also note if the floor has adequate space and structural capacity for both the equipment and the occupants, he says. Another element to consider, say the designers, is noise—both kinds: vibration caused by things like treadmills, which primarily travels vertically downward; and audible, like the clanging and dropping of weights or the thumping of runners. A thick rubber floor like the ones commonly used in commercial gyms addresses both. Rubber flooring for a 600-square-foot gym costs around $5,000, say the pros. A particularly pernicious vibration problem can be solved by laying a floating floor on top of the existing and then putting rubber over that, plus sealing and caulking every edge of the space as well as every pipe intrusion and structural column. A dropped ceiling filled with insulation will keep noise from traveling upward. In luxury condominiums, “Rubber flooring comes at different price points. some have the capability to deliver custom colors and complement the upholstery on the equipment. The gym must have mirrors on approximately half the wall space in the gym, corresponding to the placement of the stretching/ab area and the apparatus. The price range for mirror panelling is typically from $3,000 to $5,000. Lastly, a computerized electronic lock on the door not only keeps the room secure, but keeps track of who is in the room and when, in case anything is damaged or stolen. Plastic keycards, which can easily be passed around to non-member residents, have been replaced by palm or fingerprint scanners, available for…

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