By Jennifer A. Seidman, Esq., Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C.
Colorado is outpacing national trends for new apartment construction and, as the influx of new residents continues, developers continue to build. Those familiar with the real estate market predict that rental apartments will be converted to for-sale condominiums. Our firm’s construction defect attorneys know that complicated issues arise when construction problems are discovered in condo conversations. Here are six things you should know about construction defects in condo conversions:
If you would like more information about conversions or have questions about possible defects in your recently-converted condominium, call one or our attorneys at 303-792-5595 or reach out to Loura Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Keith Hoagland, McKenzie Rhody, LLP
When creating a common interest community, the developer typically forms the owner’s association and controls it for a period of time through a developer-appointed board of directors. The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) requires that this period of control terminate after sufficient units have been sold, after sufficient time has passed since the last sale of a unit, or after sufficient time has passed since the last exercise of any right to add new units.
However, a developer may include provisions in a community’s governing documents that allow it to continue to exert control over a community after its control of the owner’s association has terminated. For example, the declaration may contain a requirement that certain amendments to the declaration require the developer’s consent. As a result, the community may find it impossible to amend the declaration in some ways, regardless of how many unit owners approve. Such a requirement severely impairs the right of an association to self-govern and, in some circumstances, it may also limit the legal recourse it has against the developer. In fact, in Vallagio at Inverness Residential Condominium Ass’n v. Metropolitan Homes, the Colorado Supreme Court recently upheld such a requirement as valid.
The declaration at issue in the Vallagio case required the owner’s association to arbitrate construction defect claims against the developer. Although declarations commonly contain such a requirement, this one further stated that the arbitration requirement could not be amended without the developer’s consent. The Colorado Court of Appeals has previously held that an owner’s association can remove an arbitration requirement in a declaration by amendment. However, requiring the developer’s consent to do so effectively makes the requirement permanent, controlling the manner in which the association may pursue construction defect claims long after the developer has sold the last unit and relinquished any control over the association.
CCIOA prevails over any inconsistent provision in a community’s governing documents, and the association in Vallagio made several strong arguments as to why the consent requirement in the declaration violated CCIOA. First, as noted above, CCIOA sets strict limits on the period of time during which the developer can maintain control over an owners association, and prohibiting amendment of the declaration without the developer’s consent would amount to impermissibly exerting control over the association beyond the time limit set forth by CCIOA. However, the court of appeals found that this provision deals specifically with the developer’s right to appoint and remove members of the association’s board of directors. Since the unit owners and not the association itself make amendments to the declaration, the court reasoned that the declaration did not require the developer’s consent for any actions of the association. Curiously, the Colorado Supreme Court did not address this argument separately on appeal, and it remains unclear whether it would have adopted the rationale of the court of appeals.
Second, outside of certain narrow exceptions, CCIOA explicitly provides that a declaration may be amended only by the affirmative vote or agreement of unit owners holding more than 50% (and up to 67%) of votes in the association. Requiring the developer’s consent to amend the declaration, especially if the developer no longer owns title to any units, would effectively call for something above the required unit owner vote. However, the court found that this provision merely prohibits requiring a percentage of unit owners larger than 67% and does not prohibit imposing additional requirements.
Third, CCIOA prohibits a developer from evading CCIOA’s limitations or prohibitions, an example of which would be controlling the votes of unit owners. By requiring its consent to amend the declaration, regardless of the number of unit owners in favor, the developer effectively controls the votes of those unit owners. However, the court rejected this argument, finding that it did not impermissibly create class voting or run afoul of CCIOA’s policies or purposes, which endorse and encourage arbitration.
Finally, CCIOA prohibits imposing any limitations on the power of an owner’s association to deal with the developer that are more restrictive than the limitations on the association’s power to deal with other persons. Requiring the developer’s consent to amend the declaration effectively restricts the association’s ability to deal with the developer more so than its ability to deal with other persons. This would seem especially true where the provision being amended, as in Vallagio, is one that specifically benefits and protects the developer. However, the court found that because, as noted above, it is the unit owners and not the association itself that amends the declaration, the consent requirement did nothing to restrict any power of the association.
Significantly, the court stated in a footnote that its holding is confined to “a narrowly drafted consent-to-amend provision that pertains solely to the resolution of construction defect disputes,” and that it “express[es] no opinion as to the propriety of any other consent-to-amend provisions.” However, as noted by two dissenting justices, the rationale for the opinion was not limited in this way. Consequently, the dissent fears that it will allow developers to control the affairs of owner’s associations “into perpetuity” simply by requiring its consent to amend any provision in a declaration. The fallout from this decision is likely to spawn future litigation testing the boundaries of consent-to-amend as a control mechanism that extends well beyond arbitration requirements in construction defect disputes.
Keith Hoagland is an attorney with McKenzie Rhody, LLP. McKenzie Rhody specializes in representing homeowners and homeowner associations in construction defect matters in Colorado, Texas, and California. www.mrcdlaw.com
By Amanda K. Ashley, Altitude Community Law, P.C.
Bankruptcy is one of those mystical creatures that we’ve all heard of but hope we don’t run across. If your association hasn’t yet dealt with an owner who filed or is in an active bankruptcy, don’t worry – you will! In fact, bankruptcy is frequently used by owners to prevent further collection action, stop a foreclosure, or otherwise restructure or assist with ongoing financial obligations that are no longer affordable.
When an owner files bankruptcy, the “automatic stay” becomes effective immediately upon filing of the bankruptcy petition. (11 USC § 362). The stay is in essence an injunction against creditors from pursuing further collection action, including foreclosure, garnishment, or eviction. The automatic stay is generally in effect throughout the course of the bankruptcy, which can be a significant length of time in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy since the Chapter 13 bankruptcy can continue for up to five years.
Most creditors, including associations, are aware of the automatic stay provisions regarding general collection action such as filing lawsuits, attempting wage garnishments, or other legal action. But what many associations are not aware of are the other actions it takes that may violate the automatic stay provision, such as continuing to prohibit an owner from using the association’s amenities (e.g. the swimming pool) once an owner files bankruptcy. While an association can prohibit an owner from using its amenities due to the owner’s delinquent account (assuming the association is acting pursuant to its collection policy, of course), once that owner files bankruptcy, the association must cease all collection action. In other words, if the association does not unlock the amenities for that owner, the owner will likely have a strong case that the association has violated the automatic stay provision since the lockout is likely a type of collection action utilized by an association to prompt an owner to become current on an account.
An association’s recourse then, in light of a bankruptcy filing, is to file a motion for relief from the automatic stay since the association is a secured creditor and can petition the court for relief from the stay for cause under § 362.
Failure to obtain relief from the stay or failure to cease all collection action can result in significant penalties for violating the stay, so tread carefully, associations! If a creditor is found to have violated the automatic stay, penalties including sanctions as well as punitive damages can be assessed. Additionally, damages may also be awarded for emotional distress. Keep in mind that whether a creditor intended to violate the stay order is not a consideration in determining whether there was a violation of the automatic stay; rather, the issue generally becomes whether the creditor intended to collect or continue collection in violation of the stay order.
Of course, every situation is different. There are exceptions to the application of the automatic stay which is why each bankruptcy filing should be reviewed individually. This article is purely meant as a starting point and should not be construed as legal advice.
Amanda K. Ashley is an attorney at Altitude Community Law, a law firm specializing in community association law. She works primarily in the Debt Recovery department.
By John Ganoe, CAE, CAMICB
Even for those deeply entrenched in the credentialing world, there's a certain degree of confusion around some of the terminology used to describe specific paths professionals take to further their careers and skill sets. The field of community association management is no different so it's important to educate managers, homeowners, and other community association professionals about the different options the profession has to offer and the value they hold.
According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), “credentialing" is an umbrella term used to refer to concepts such as professional certification, certificate programs, accreditation, licensure, and regulation.
ICE defines certification, licensure, assessment-based certificate, and accreditation in the following ways:
• A certification program is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job, and, upon successfully passing a certification exam, to represent a declaration of a particular individual's professional competence, such as a community manager who has achieved the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®). In some professions, certification is a requirement for employment or practice.
• Similarly, licensure tests an individual's competence but is a mandatory process by which the government grants time-limited permission for that licensed individual to practice his or her profession, such as a real estate salesperson or real estate broker.
• In contrast to certification and licensure, an assessment-based certificate program is an educational or training program that is used to teach learning objectives and assess whether those objectives were achieved by the student.
• Accreditation is the process by which a credentialing or educational program is evaluated against defined standards and is awarded recognition if it is in compliance with those standards. The Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®) is such a program. ICE currently offers accreditation to professional certification programs through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Community association professionals may also choose to bolster their careers and expand their level of expertise in certain areas. This is where specialty designations come into play. A “designation" is recognition of professional knowledge and expertise in a given subject matter or job skill. To earn designations, membership is required in a professional organization and usually requires work experience. Certain specialty designations are offered through the Community Associations Institute (CAI) including, the Association Management Specialist (AMS), Large Scale Manager (LSM), Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM), Community Insurance and Risk Management Specialist (CIRMS) and Reserve Specialist (RS). This allows a community association professional to drill down into a specialized aspect of the business. In some cases, for example the PCAM and AMS designations, passing the CMCA examination is a prerequisite to applying for these designations.
I've experienced a wide disparity in the background and quality of the managers with whom I've worked," said Ron Perl, Esq., a Partner at Hill Wallack LLP, who leads the firm's community association practice group. “A manager who holds the CMCA assures me they have an important foundation in place – the ongoing education and knowledge necessary to successfully manage millions of dollars worth of other people's property and a serious commitment to high ethical standards."
Stephen Castle, CMCA, AMS, PCAM agrees all committed community association managers should hold the CMCA certification. “The CMCA certification demonstrates to employees and new managers a commitment to professionalism," said Castle. “Further, CMCAs show their support for established national and international standards of knowledge and professional conduct for community association managers.”
The CMCA Goes Global
As CAMICB grew to be the premiere certification body in the United States for community association managers, it also gained international recognition for its established body of knowledge and strict ethical standards. Over the past two decades, the CMCA certification program crossed borders and oceans in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. This global expansion secured a high level of professionalism for association management and common interest communities worldwide. In 2017, CAMICB launched the international CMCA examination.
The Institute for Credentialing Excellence, or ICE, is a professional membership association that provides education, networking, and other resources for organizations and individuals who work in and serve the credentialing industry. ICE is a leading developer of standards for both certification and certificate programs and it is both a provider of and a clearing house for information on trends in certification, test development and delivery, assessment-based certificate programs, and other information relevant to the credentialing community.
By Emily Walsh, SOLitude Lake Management
Community lakes and stormwater ponds can be used to attract native wildlife, facilitate recreation and enhance the beauty of a HOA property, but, over the course of many years, these aquatic resources may experience sedimentation, nutrient loading and other water quality problems. If a waterbody is not properly managed, it will eventually fill in with muck and other organic materials until depths are significantly reduced. To help restore volume, reduce the possibility of flooding during rainstorms, and improve overall water quality, it’s important to consider hydro-raking as a proactive management tool.
If you own or manage an association with lakes and ponds, you’ve likely heard of hydro-raking as a unique strategy utilized by aquatic professionals to remove aquatic vegetation and “bottom sludge.” A hydro-rake is essentially a floating barge supporting a mounted backhoe and rake attachment that can remove up to 500 pounds of lake and pond muck, plant material and organic debris in a single scoop.
The hydro-rake has the ability to target certain areas of nuisance and/or invasive aquatic vegetation, while conserving other areas in their natural state. This is crucial in the eyes of aquatic management, which is geared towards retaining and restoring balance within the waterbody’s ecosystem. Maintaining an equilibrium of native vegetation enhances the potential for increased species richness and ecosystem resilience – the ability to maintain balance despite challenges posed by nutrient loading, water stratification and other factors that can affect water quality. In addition to proactively managing vegetation, hydro-raking can help reduce or prolong the need for dredging, which is often the costliest project a homeowners association will ever face.
While the hydro-rake is not a suitable management strategy in every situation, it can be extremely effective when used to control several types of vegetation often found in waterbodies used for recreation, community fishing, the collection of stormwater runoff, or simply the enjoyment of their aesthetic beauty:
Emergent vegetation such as cattails, common reedand maidencane are common plants that can plague waterbodies; however, removal can be achieved by utilizing the hydro-rake as a stand-alone management option or as a complement to other management approaches. Emergent plants are fantastic candidates for the hydro-rake because they are usually found along the edge of the waterbody, where they can be easily accessed by the rake attachment. During the removal process, the hydro-rake will extract the plant in its entirety, as well as its attached rhizome (root) structure lain beneath the water’s surface. Because the hydro-rake works from the water rather than land, desirable ornamental and buffer plant species along the shoreline are not impacted.
FLOATING LEAF SPECIES
The hydro-rake is effective when removing common floating leaf vegetation such as water lily and watershield. These plant species are ideal for hydro-rake management, due to their leaf structure and attached root systems underneath. As with common reed and cattail removal, the hydro-rake can remove the plants, as well as the root structures. Open water is then restored, thus enhancing the ability of native aquatic flora and fauna to repopulate the area. Other common floating-leaf species, such as water hyacinth, water chestnut, and water lotus are additional candidates for hydro-raking service
Submersed species such as curly-leaf pondweed, big leaf pondweed and tape grass can be effectively managed through hydro-raking. These prescribed programs can provide sufficient plant reduction, especially when combined with herbicide management options. As with any management strategy, it’s important to always consider the biology of the targeted plant before beginning a hydro-raking project. Some submersed plants, such as such as milfoil and fanwort spread heavily through fragmentation and may require alternate management strategies to ensure fragmentation and repopulation do not occur.
Hydro-raking is a management tool used in a wide array of aquatic restoration projects ranging from inlets, outlets, littoral zones, coves, private shorelines, and more. Aquatic vegetation removal projects can be performed any time of year, but the best time is when the nutrients are in the vegetative structure; this is relative to the associated region, weather conditions, and plant biology. When considering this service, the first step is to contact your local lake and pond management professional to conduct a site visit. During this time, they will identify nuisance plant species and management areas, and consider a strategy that aligns with your association’s long-term waterbody goals.
As with any form of proactive management, hydro-raking can help improve the health, longevity and beauty of your community’s lake or stormwater pond for years to come, but is most effective when used in conjunction with other preventative management methods, including aeration, buffer management, nutrient remediation and other strategies that prevent the premature aging, or filling in with sediment, of the waterbody.
Emily Walsh is an experienced Environmental Scientist with SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental firm providing sustainable lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management solutions. Learn more about this topic at www.solitudelakemanagement.com/knowledge.
By Nate LePage, Asphalt Coatings
This year was marked by two regulations that made most of us tied to property management a bit more anxious: ADA Compliance and Trip Hazards. Sometimes, these two may even have occurred together as a raised or separated curb tied to an ADA parking stall created a nightmare scenario for a property manager. To make matters worse, repairing these troubled locations was often mandated from the lender who wanted them fixed ASAP.
And, by ASAP, they meant yesterday!
By shedding light on the process to identify whether these repairs are necessary, we can then look at a few tips on how to move forward and get problem areas up to code as quickly as possible.
But, before we dive in to that….let’s look at a bit of history which will also provide us with some helpful information as we move forward. Don’t worry, we will skip all the boring parts!
The Americans with Disabilities Act – or ADA, for short – was signed in to law in 1990. Designed to level the playing field, its goal was to provide those with disabilities equal access to all of life’s daily activities (work, play, shopping, etc.). This piece of legislation established the parameters we adhere to today. For example, the 2% grade limit on an ADA parking stall, the 8% slope on a ramp, and the ¼” trip hazard benchmark all came from this law. In keeping up with the times, their website – www.ada.gov – includes tons of information on the regulations and guidelines. A quick word of caution: the website also allows complaints to be filed online fairly easily. Yikes!
Speaking of complaints, let’s move on to the process of identifying potential areas that need to be repaired. If we are vigilant and stay on top of these, they can be addressed before they become a “911” issue.
The most common areas of concern are sidewalks, ADA ramps, and the cracks between the curb & gutter/sidewalks. With the crazy freeze-thaw weather we get here in Colorado, it’s very easy for water to get in, freeze and expand, and press things out of alignment. The result is one sidewalk stone or panel will be higher than the one next to it. As we learned from the ADA, any raised surface greater than ¼” qualifies as a trip hazard. Similarly, a very, very hot day in August can cause sidewalks to ‘heave’ and can result in the same dangerous trip hazard.
So, what’s the magic formula for keeping ADA compliance and trip hazards at bay?
Walking the property on a weekly basis and utilizing on-site facilities maintenance personnel are great ways to be proactive and identify areas for repair. Getting familiar with your property will help you recognize when an area has changed; plus, it’s a great chance to get a break from being in the office and catch some fresh air. Installing handrails on any access ramps within the property can also minimize accidents. Handrails prevent wheelchairs from straying off a ramp and provide a way for someone to break a fall should they slip or trip. Additionally, pavement markings help those with disabilities identify spaces reserved for them and can keep them from areas that may prove more difficult. Utilizing truncated domes at crosswalks are also very helpful (and often mandated by municipalities).
Once a damaged area has been recognized for repair, there are a few options to get the location back up to code. If available, consulting with the onsite maintenance team’s capabilities can save some budget money by keeping the repair in-house. If outside service is needed, starting with previous contractors or the ‘preferred vendor list’ at your company can save time locating a reputable contractor. When reaching out for the first time, many property managers will seek to receive at least 3 quotes or proposals before making a decision. A word of caution: Don’t always choose the lowest bid! When it comes to code compliance, choose wisely and make sure you select a contractor with a proven track record.
In summary, the best way to keep peace of mind regarding ADA compliance and trip hazards is through routine maintenance. If you have any questions or just need some help in general, it’s advised to reach out to a reputable, local, and honest contractor for help. Their expertise can ease anxieties and provide guidance on how to move forward.
Asphalt Coatings has helped property managers with their parking lots for over 30 years. When not helping customers with their parking lots, you’ll find Nate out enjoying the Colorado mountain country. If you have any questions regarding parking maintenance, you can email Nate at email@example.com
By Nicole Stone, LMI Landscapes Inc.
We drive in and out of our communities several times a day, oftentimes not even noticing our surroundings. However, have you driven by and noticed that some communities have beautiful flowers, wonderful blooming shrubs, gorgeous trees, and a crisp, enchanting curb appeal? Those communities are the ones that draw and encourage new buyers to move into the community. Landscaping simply adds to an inviting backdrop by having a pleasing, attractive, and creative scene which encourages new buyers, along with increasing property values in your community. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to encourage your neighbors to spruce up their landscaping as well!
Speaking of curb appeal, landscaping can add a powerful kick-start to your neighborhood. Many communities have started focusing on improvements toward the exterior, with the understanding of just how important that “first impression landscape” is to prospective buyers. Keeping up with the exterior aesthetics, like landscape, can have a serious financial impact; According to the National Association of Realtors, exterior landscaping can add an estimated 7–15% value to the property by simply maintaining the existing turf, plant material, and trees.
The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association did research and compiled the following statistics:
A third professional entity have also conducted studies, as The Natural Resources Defense Council researchers have found that landscaping can add an estimated 7% percent to an average purchase. This also helps increase selling opportunities. Landscape in today’s environment has become more vibrant, with increases in colorful, accenting plantings throughout the front entrances of communities.
Taking a gander throughout the Front Range will inevitably show that there are several new communities being developed, and this is unlikely to slow down soon. These new developments are implementing unique landscape and decor in a variety of ways including the repositioning of existing structures, the creation of walking paths, seating areas, as well as plenty of parks and open spaces. This plethora of redevelopment is a perfect opportunity for older communities to renovate their existing landscape as well, by creating a fresh new look that will tie into the incoming communities and vibrant landscapes.
This is an exciting time because your community has many options regarding freshening up the community with options that have not been available before. From hiring a professional firm to create a completely different look, to refreshing the existing landscape, your community will need to decide which direction is best suited for your needs. It is easy to see when you drive around and take notice of all the upgrades taking place in older communities, from the exterior to the landscaping. These properties are well on their way to creating a new fresh look by reconfiguring the existing structure and reworking the existing landscape back drops to better suit the future and move away from the past.
LMI Landscapes Inc. has been successfully servicing the green industry in Dallas, Austin, and Denver since 1987. We are comprised of three divisions; Construction and Irrigation Installation, Maintenance, Enhancements, and Irrigation, and Snow Removal Services.
By Ann Baker, Denver Water
How recent Denver Water rule changes implemented to accommodate development are resulting in reduced water use and better customer service for homeowners.
New operating rules, implemented earlier this year, will help residents in densely built neighborhoods spot inefficient water use quickly, while alleviating headaches for contractors and confusion for homeowners.
“Development has changed, and we had to figure out a way to change with them,” said Mike Aragon, director of Customer Relations. “Dense development didn’t fit with our rules.”
In the past, one single-family house was built on one lot, facing the street. One water tap and one meter were attached to that house. As land prices soared, developers started bunching two, three, and even four single-family homes on one lot. But when houses are sandwiched together, there isn’t space for multiple taps and meters.
So, developers would install one large tap with one meter to feed all the homes on a single lot, letting the homeowner’s association divvy up the cost of water later on. That created problems — for homeowners and Denver Water.
A household of one person uses a lot less than a family of five, but if those two homes shared a meter, they’d split the monthly costs equally. In those cases, residents wouldn’t know how much water they’re using and whether they’re being efficient, meaning no one has much incentive to cut back. And many times, because the HOA redistributed water bills, the homeowners didn’t receive Denver Water’s messaging about drought, summer watering rules, construction, rebates, and more.
Starting in 2015, Denver Water assembled a continuous improvement team to study different ways to fix those problems. Employees found that allowing developers to install a manifold tap and service line would allow each house in dense developments to have its own meter, and therefore its own bill.
More than 30 developments are now using manifold taps, but Denver Water expects hundreds each year will fit these dense-development parameters, especially in the Lowry, Highlands and Stapleton neighborhoods. The ones that are active are seeing impressive results. Not only do they maintain the structural integrity of the mains, but those individually metered houses use 38 percent less than their shared-metered counterparts, Aragon said.
And now Denver Water has a direct relationship with those customers, which means we won’t have to rely on HOAs to pass on important messages.
“This is also incredibly important as we prepare for future droughts,” said Jeff Tejral, Denver Water’s manager of water efficiency and reuse. “If most of our customers are not receiving a bill from us, we cannot expect to provide a signal to reduce use.”
This article was provided by TAP: News to Hydrate Your Mind. TAP is produced by the Public Affairs division of Denver Water. Water is the No. 1 issue in Colorado, if not the entire West, and Denver Water employees are the water experts. TAP is a resource which, among its other core principles, helps educate the 1.4 million people we serve and the communities in which we operate about water issues, including conservation, infrastructure, business and environmental concerns.
By Coley Stevenson, CINC Systems
In our industry, we improve – constantly. Upgrades to properties, like seasonal landscaping, improve the beauty of our surroundings. But one upgrade that is often deferred far too long is a technology upgrade. It’s easy to put off technology upgrades. After all, if your current tech is working fine, why replace it? Just like replacing a roof on the community clubhouse can expose hidden leaks, delving into a technology upgrade job can reveal problems you didn’t know you had. It’s essential to review your technology needs on a regular basis.
Technology changes frequently. If you’re using what was cutting-edge just a few years ago, you may be cheating yourself out of speed and processing power – especially on computers and mobile devices. Basic operational planning measures, like a needs analysis, will help you determine what you need now, and what you should plan to replace (and when). Here are a few areas to consider:
Of special concern is the rapid growth of ransomware attacks. Anyone with a computer on the internet is a potential victim. This type of malware attack can paralyze a business; your systems become “locked” and held hostage until a ransom is paid. Notable examples of ransomware victims include the City of Atlanta, LabCorp, and FedEx, though ransomware attacks can happen to businesses of any size. Current antivirus protection is your best defense, along with keeping your equipment up-to-date.
Regardless of the technology upgrades you choose, make sure that you understand the scope of the project. Of course, you want to minimize disruption and downtime, so plan for a time when your business is slower. Make sure you include adequate time for testing and training. With proper planning, technology upgrades can positively impact your business goals.
Your best bet? Consult a trusted local technology expert for assistance. And make a backup. ALWAYS make a backup.
About the Author
CINC Systems is the first cloud-based association management software. CINC enables Community Association Management Companies access to tools that streamline business activities – from accounting to daily management – via the Internet from any location 24x7. For more information, visit cincsystems.com.
By Mary Harris, Architectural Signs
The Denver-Metro housing market is more unique than we’ve ever seen it; Some home values are increasing annually by 10% or more, while others moving at a steady 6% or less. Why? You might say location, and that would be true, but what other factors play a roll in this hot market? Consider the overall appearance of the neighborhood.
According to the Community Associations Institute, the number of community or homeowner associations has grown from 10,000 in 1970 to 342,000 in 2016. That’s a lot of competition. Now more than ever, it is imperative that your community signage leaves a lasting positive visual impression, conveying a sense of pride in the community.
Is the signage in your neighborhood antiquated and tired? Are street signs faded, leaning, broken, or beat up by the landscaper’s weed whacker? Are the flower beds over grown and covering your neighborhood entrance monument rendering them un-readable? All of these things can have an negative impact on the perception of property values.
Once you’ve determined that your neighborhood signage needs attention, where do you start? How do you improve your signage without draining your reserves and how do you determine where to focus your attention?
First, walk your neighborhood and determine what signs need repaired or replaced. If you have a trusted sign vendor, ask them to join you. A professional sign vendor will help guide you and essentially help you work within your budget. Once you have a list of sign “issues,” you can prioritize based on need and budget.
Addressing the needed safety issues should be priority number one! Stop signs, illegible street signs, and cross walk signs need to be maintained in pristine condition. Communities can suffer large financial losses due to lawsuits because of negligence in sign maintenance. The Department of Transportation requires that street signs and stop signs are constructed with high intensity reflective material. This adds night time visibility and safety.
The next area of focus should be on the community entrance signage. Can visitors easily find the neighborhood? Does the signage convey the message that the community would like to emulate? When you look at it, does it scream 1960? Keep in mind that monuments are built to last for decades, but the style can make the community look outdated. If you have an entrance sign (aka. monument sign) that was built decades ago, you may want to consider refurbishment.
Monument refurbishment is a cost effect way to modernize and revitalize the neighborhood. Consider the photos featured in this article. The existing monument was non-illuminated and a little dated. The original background was replaced with a stucco finish and halo lit, LED channel letters were added in a high contrast color. Now the monument sign is visible day and night, guiding residents and visitors alike to the neighborhood. The cost of a refurbishment verses a full blown replacement can save a community thousands of dollars.
A community message board is something that would be considered a community amenity. Either a box that houses paper posted notices or an LED electronic message board can lend to a sense of community and a perceived added value to the community as a whole. Posted near an entrance, pool, or club house, this offers residents neighborhood information and a place to communicate.
Pool, tennis court, and amenity signage should be updated for community liability purposes. It is imperative that regulations are posted in a clear manner and in compliance to ADA regulations. Outdated information or rules can have a negative financial impact for a neighborhood, leaving the community vulnerable to legal action.
If you take the time to address the signage in your community, keeping it all up to date, in compliance, and modernized, your community can and will benefit. Property values will increase, as well as the community's overall satisfaction.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at http://ArchitecturalSigns.com.
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