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Capital Projects & Budgeting Info: - REAPLLC Feb 11, 2019

Someone recently asked about capital planning and budgeting, so I thought I’d post it as a topic in addition to the initial reply since I thought of more information afterward. There is no absolute method, but here's how I do it ...
When creating an annual operating budget, it is wise to create and update a separate capital budget with at least a 5-7 year outlook.

You can find this budget either though reserves if the finances permit, through an assessment (which looks better than raising maintenance), or through raising maintenance (Which is not recommended since it is capital funding), through refi/cash out, etc… .

Create two lists.. needs and wants.
You may need assistance with the needs list as it would contain the following:
1. Local Law Inspections & work (FSIP)
2. Mechanicals (cooling/HVAC/Water Towers)
3. Boiler & Machinery
4. Plumbing/electrical Systems
5. Elevator(s)
6. General building condition – roof, stairwells, etc..
7. Abatements (asbestos, lead, etc..)
8. More…

I have a company that does complete building inspections & budgets; an engineer and other professionals required for some portions.
Pricing and required timelines are next

Organize this list not by price, but by priority as it relates to liability.
Then create and merge your list of desired improvements or projects with priority order being the value add of each item… One may offset another, such as duel fuel conversion to a boiler with a bad burner may aid both categories.. this is what I mean by the value add…

With every item on the list now having a priority number and target date attached, you can back into the finances and how you will fund it.
There are many different ways to go about finding the monies and funding the projects, and in the beginning it may look intimidating, but it gets more and more rewarding as time progresses… It is great when your building gets to a point where you are working only on what improvements you would like to add that year!

Cheers!
~AR

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Operating Cost Saving Projects $$ - REAPLLC Feb 07, 2019

I have done many projects in buildings that have saved on operating expenses. I'm just curious as to what others have done and what kind of savings you've realized as a result?
Iv'e seen up to 35% fuel savings on going duel fuel and upgrading to a stealth energy control panel,
Balanced out the heating distribution system,
Changed all public lighting to LED and put low traffic areas on sensors (have not measured savings as yet),
Closely monitor water usage...
Any other ideas and input out there?

~AR

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Can you recommend a security camera company or individual cameras that can be used to provide security? Any estimates of the cost?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

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Who implements procedures board members should follow especially for cost saving measures ? Should mortgage be paid in full before improvements are made or considered? Thank you for your time!

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When we create a budget for say 2019, re create a "wish list" as a Board and management... I then merge it with a list containing any mandatory projects (Local law, violations if any, liability mitigation, etc), then prioritize the list based on
1-emergency work
2-required work (with timelines)
3-needs
4-wants/desired work or improvements
Improvements get further categorized by which brings the most return not just financially, but overall value to the building community.
Then, based on either experience or bidding, I assign budget numbers to each line item and a timeline. This capital budget should always be run and executed in tandem with your operating budget and the mortgage balance or service should not effect the decisions to drive any project.
The payoff of the mortgage and weather that should be done or not would be another conversation.
I hope that helped!
~AR

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I have one company that I use that is less expensive and fast, but requires a little babysitting because they are sloppy if you don't watch them; then I have another company that is more expensive and a bit slower, but I do not need to watch them.. both have excellent after installation service.. which would you like?

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Thank you for your reponse and please forward both companies information.

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Nuisance Renter in Florida condo - eyelovela Feb 04, 2019

I own a condo unit in Miami, FL.
Below me lives a renter who smokes incessantly on his balcony below mine. Consequently, my balcony and inside my condo unit reek of cigarette smoke and odors. I have complained to the renter himself, to the HOA board and to the owner if the unit below, ie, the renter’s landlord. No one has done a thing about it, even though I expressed that my health is deteriorating due to the second-hand smoke I am forced to inhale día in and day out.

Is a renter who lives in a condo unit legally allowed to disrupt condo unit owners and get away with it? It would seem to me that owners in a condo complex should have priority rights over renters. But my HOAs silent treatment towards my second hand smoke complaint is a clear indication that they are choosing to side with the asso’n.

Thanks in advance.

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If there is a provision in the Condo Rules for smoking, and there should be Smoking Rules" which outlines if, where, what, etc.. that smoking can be done, the renter needs to abide by the same set of rules as a unit owner. It would then be up to the Condo Board/Association to enforce them with the Unit Owner and him/her to enforce it with the renter.
Here in NYC, I have turned many of the buildings that I manage into nonsmoking buildings, and amended the rules in others to limit where smoking can occur in the buildings.
Speak with your manager and board members and see what can be done... Hint: find a non-smoking board member to appeal to!

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I suggest checking your state laws concerning this issue as well.

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Construction and food smells coming through 'solid' wall - Coop board member 1 Feb 03, 2019

I'm a member of a co-op board in a 1960s building.

We have a resident (A) who is complaining about cooking smells and construction smells coming from a neighboring apartment (Z). The apartments share a wall that should be solid -- there are no vents between these two apartments.
The problem was brought to our attention almost a year ago when Apt A complained about strong cooking smells, but apt Z was about to do a renovation, and we thought that would address it. Instead, the smells have been ongoing and Apt A can smell the pipe soldering, plastering and painting and has photos showing plaster dust from the renovation piling up on her floor and on the plugs of lamps and appliances plugged into their party wall. There is a definite breeze coming through the baseboards/electrical outlets -- it's enough to blow a smoke test around.

Apt A says this is a violation of the warranty of habitability and the proprietary lease. Is the co-op responsible to address this, and if so, how do we fix it? The wall seems solid, except for the breeze/dust/smells, and Apt A even has a second layer of sheetrock on their side due to an earlier renovation.



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Sounds like apt A is correct. The co-op needs to do something. It's possible that Z's renovation was a sub-standard job since A can now smell other things that they did not smell prior to the renovation. The plaster dust piling up on A's floor is a health hazard at a minimum and needs to be addressed immediately.

I recommend that the co-op hire someone to check the integrity of that shared wall. If it needs to be repaired, then do it ASAP. and let the co-op pay for it.

It's possible that the co-op can try to collect the repair money from Z's contractor, but the co-op will need to show that it was a shoddy renovation that caused the extra smells and the piling of dust. Good luck.

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Unless there is an issue with the structural aspect of the wall prior to the renovation (which it does not seem to be the case), the coop is not responsible. Wall finishes are the responsibility of the Shareholders as per most any Proprietary Lease.
Some older buildings were frame built with wall cavities that do permit odors, sounds, etc to breath through.. not the most desirable construct, but perfectly legal and to code.

Some solutions in a couple similar buildings and situations we have had was to insulate the cavities with sound bat which does cut down the odors also. The walls should be fully insulated and sealed around all penetrations, switches and receptacles, etc. Additionally, insulation around the apartment door will cut down on the ambient odors in the halls.

Its important to realize also, that while some foods and cooking smells are offensive... everyone tolerance levels are different and there is no way to gauge the true levels of odor tolerances to each person who may complain.

Good Luck
~AR

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What do Board Members Need to Know - Unosay Jan 31, 2019

How can you run a cooperative if you are not privy to: contracts of vendors, parking lists, age and condition of roofs,elevators, plumbing, and electrical systems? How many sublets in house and when to stop to prevent too many? Employees live and own apartments on site but won't start working until 8:00 AM; because they're union. The siper and asst. super rent out apts they own to live rent free. Our attorney has not directed board members on proper orientation of does and don't to be effective. So who is getting the better deal?

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Are you asking as a Board member or asking as a nonBoard shareholder? Board Directors are entitled to whatever infornation they need and their attorney can’t limit the scope.

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H's comment makes sense. I'm trying to make sense of the original rant and I can't. Sounds like the OP is a non-Board member who has no idea of what being on the Board is all about. If he is a Board member, then he needs to be educated ASAP.

"Employees live and own apartments on site but won't start working until 8:00 AM." If their start time is 8AM, why would you expect them to begin work prior to that time?

"How many sublets in house and when to stop to prevent too many?" What do the by laws allow?

"The super and asst. super rent out apts. they own to live rent free." If they own apartments, do the by laws allow them to rent them out? If so, then it sounds like they're not doing anything wrong.

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You asked if it was for a board member or non board member? It is for both as it appears the board doesn't fully understand their rights as a board member. It appears that a handbook needs to be introduced to educate board members what they are privy to and what not to do. Sharing confidential information with other shareholders about a pending lawsuit by a shareholder at a annual meeting is not correct . What is mandatory for board members to know is needed especially new members and why attorney doesn't help educate them instead of allowing them to do whatever they please???

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Spectrum Bulk Billing / Fios Installation - jdny Jan 30, 2019

Perhaps it's a coincidence but Spectrum has just offered our co-op a bulk rate just has Verizon has notified our building that it's (finally) willing to install Fios. Currently, a majority of residents use Spectrum (internet and TV) and pay $100-$200+ per month. The bulk rate would be $50/month (for a service as good or better than what most people have now) that's even factoring covering the few people who don't use Spectrum.

The catch? Spectrum is requiring a 5 year contract to get the bulk rate.

Just wondering if we sign a long term deal with Spectrum, could Verizon find out and cancel Fios installation plans?

Does anyone have a rough idea how long it takes from the time a building gives Verizon the OK to install fiber to the time Fios service is actually working? If it's 1/2 a year or more, it might be more justifiable to sign with Spectrum now for the time being - who knows, maybe there will be a problem or delays with Fios installation.

Does Verizon ever offer a bulk rate as well and/or buy out a contract with a competing provider?

Any advice?

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my building has had a bulk rate for years, long before i lived there. we had fios installed and it was up to owners to negotiate with them to buy them out. because rate is so good, no one has opted to do so.

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Should a Lot Line Window be operational? - Lot LIne Window Jan 22, 2019

A reader has asked if he should be able to open his lot line window and if the co-op is responsible for making his window operational if it is not.

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Windows can differ.. some LL windows are operational and some are fixed.
Check your Proprietary Lease and see who is responsible for window repairs and that party is responsible to remedy any defects.
~AR

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Improvements and Flip Tax - marym Jan 14, 2019

In calculating flip tax, do co-ops allow shareholders to first deduct any improvements they made to their apartment?

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Yes you can deduct your home improvements when you sell your apt. and house. Also $250,000 per you and $250,000 for your spouse. Your question is just in time to do your 2018 taxes. Please bring your questions up with your accountant who will best advise you in this matter. Best of Luck.

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Thanks for your answer but I believe you misunderstood my question or I didn't phrase it properly. I'm not asking about one's personal taxes; rather, if co-op boards allow a shareholder to deduct improvements made to her/his apartment before calculating the flip tax. Thanks.

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If a down payment was not required to purchase a Co-op in the past and now the board requires a 20% down, can they implement this without shareholders approval?

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Your proprietary lease should address this. If it does not, the Board may change the requirement without a shareholder vote.

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A flip tax does not deduct any improvements. It is only concerned with the final sale price of the apartment (or whatever structure it may follow), unless expressed otherwise.

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deduction is a slippery slope. was discussed as an option and you can't do it that way - how would you allow for depreciation on improvements? total sale price is the only way to do it.

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It is up to the Proprietary Lease to determine the requisites and details of the transfer fee. Some are based on flat percentages, some not, some on profit, some on other factors... it is best to ask you Manager to decipher your particular flip tax for you.

~AR

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theft in apartment - Sue Jan 04, 2019

Plumbers and contractors have been working in every Unit making repairs and updating system. Shareholders have been notified when workers need entry into apartments and if residents cannot be present during work the
Super has entered with permission using management keys. The Super and managing agent have been present when workers are in the apartments.

Board was recently told an expensive heirloom is missing. Board instructed shareholder to make a police report, call their home owners insurance and submit in writing to management details of incident.

Can anyone tell me what the standard protocol is and who would be liable?

Thank you.

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The homeowners insurance company should cover instances of theft. Homeowner should file a police report. The insurance company will take it from there.

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Building wide internet? - Richo Dec 15, 2018

Has anyone set up a building wide network for their building?

We are wired for spectrum, but I can't figure out if they would allow 8 units to share a business class account.

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I was thinking the exact same thing for my 4 unit building. We have spectrum but was thinking it might be best to get FIOS. The big advantage is with FIOS you get upload AND download speeds that are very fast. Uploads speed is important if you do any online backups or sharing and don't want a backup to take 2 weeks. Normally each subscriber has to find a place to put those big boxes that convert the fiber to copper. Instead of having 4 of those bulky things - 1 in each apt, we could have one and put it in the basement. We would ensure privacy by getting a static ip address for each unit and a separate router for each unit. You may as well get the TV and phone package and get ALL the premium channels cause we would split the cost 4 ways. Could provide building wide WiFi as well and integrate with cameras and such. I was thinking of just calling the business office and get an account under the HOA name. Only problem is two of the unit owners will flat out go against any idea I contribute, no matter how much benefit or savings it would provide them.

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