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Honeywell Thermostatic Radiator Valves - DN Jul 25, 2008


Has anyone on this board had any experience with Honeywell-brand thermostatic radiator valves? We're wondering if it might be good to test in a few apartments in our coop (2-pipe steam) building. Thank you.

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Assess Managing Agent - DACGardens Jul 23, 2008


I am the President of a newly-installed Board at my co-op. We have defined areas where our MA needs to make improvements. Do you know of a "report card," or type of "assessment tool" that's used to measure and monitor the effectiveness of a Managing Agent?

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Congratulations on your new position. Good question. You may want to start here: BUILDING OPERATIONS - Performance Analytics to Quell Performance Anxiety http://www.habitatmag.com/publication_content/2008_march/web_exclusive_adaptations/performance_analytics

Also get the new July/August issue, see Carol Ott's video preview http://www.habitatmag.com

Search Habitat article archives, http://www.habitatmag.com/archive/index.php where this article "Taking Care Of Business" may be found. Good luck.

DESCRIPTION How to make sure your property is being managed professionally and efficiently.
TOPIC Management
AUTHOR Alvin Wasserman
MAGAZINE ISSUE February 2007 - Number 231

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preserving institutional memory - GK Jul 22, 2008


I'm back on the board after a year hiatus. (I'd like to thank some of the very supportive posters like BP, Steve, AdC et al for their helpful comments and for encouraging me not to give in to the temptation of apathy!)

It seems our co-op might stand to benefit from keeping clear and complete records. I've found a helpful article in the Cooperator: http://cooperator.com/articles/176/1/Preserving-Institutional-Memory/Page1.html

The article is from 1996 and could be updated for our increasingly digital and ubicomp age. But it outlines a logical method for organizing building records, and suggests keeping the files in a locked file cabinet in the building. This is the one point where I might differ from the article, which says that keys to the files should go to the super, the managing agent, and the board president. I would prefer that the keys go to all board members (rather than to just one board member; our building is just emerging from problems having to do with lack of transparency and concentration of power in one person) and not to the super or managing agent. Why? Because the super and MA work for us, and their service comes up fairly regularly in our discussions.

I would be very interested in hearing how boards in other co-ops deal with preserving building records. Thanks.

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Please remember that there are records that are retained for specific times. In fact, the real role of the Corporation Secretary is to ensure that records of the corporation are kept according to the guidelines no matter who is the custodian, i.e., the corporate attorney, management, super or the black file cabinet retained by the Board:

http://www.cnyc.org/code/newsletters/2002autumn/aut02_007retention.html

The above posting is a good starting guideline for any co-op board in developing a records retention policy.

I'm glad you are back and contributing. Best of luck on your new term!

AdC

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Thanks, AdC! Very helpful.

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Landscaping - jmg Jul 21, 2008


Our building has two large planter boxes that run across the front of the building. They are in very poor condition and we think the time has come to have them emptied and repaired (brick work needs repair, perhaps the waterproofing membranes too--there is water damage in one of the apartments that abuts them).

Does anyone have a recommendation for a company that can do this type of work?

Thanks

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Reserve Fund Investment options - jbm Jul 18, 2008


Our building has all of our reserve fund (150K) in money market funds (Vanguard) returning around 2% which is less than the rate of inflation. We would like to put about half the funds in another investment vehicle that would not need to be liquid that would return around 5-6%. Any suggestions? (Our three-month maintenance income (required minimum for a RF) is 50K). Also- does anyone have any suggestions on higher interest liquid investment options.

We're a 24 unit co-op

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Two suggestions. First, we keep our reserve fund in multiple CDs with rolling maturity dates. This way, each chunk can be locked up for a longer term -- so we get a somewhat higher interest rate -- but there's always a chunk of the money available every 30 days, should we need it.

Another possibility is triple-tax-free municipal bonds. These can pay as much as 3% interest (last time I checked), and the interest is completely non-taxable, so your effective yield is even higher.

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Have you read this Habitat article?

Investing Is Easy Doing It Well Is Hard http://www.habitatmag.com/publication_content/2008_may/web_exclusive_adaptations/investing_reserve_funds May 2008 Hotline - Reserve Funds

Accumulated some extra funds? Habitat examines some ways to make use of those funds and grow them.

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We've been satisfied by NCB (f.k.a. National Cooperative Bank) "CDARS" program. CDARS is a network of FDIC-insured banks whereby the depositor's fund are split among various CDs so that each CD's principal and accrued interest is protected in full by FDIC insurance. In other words, it saves you the hassle of buying brokered CDs or going to different banks to ensure that no more than $100,000 in principal and anticipated accrued interest is deposited at any one FDIC insured bank. You can also ladder the CDs in the CDARS program if you want to go longer on the maturity curve to secure higher interest rates.

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Super going on Vacation - Ann Jul 17, 2008


We are a condo. Does a property manager need to notify and get approval by the Board for the super to go on vacation? Our property manager e-mailed us On a Friday night 11:30 PM that the super is going on vaction starting Monday for 2 weeks. She got a replacemnent to fill in, but she never told us(the Board)the super going on vacation until the last minute(Friday night). She never even notified the unit owners(no sign). Is this the "NORM" for a property manager to do. Doesn't the Board have a say?

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In my building (Cooperative) I inform my supervisor at the management company and they inform the Board of Directors.

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Our superintendent needs to give the board 2 months notice if he wants vacation and then the board votes whether to give it to him our not. This gives us enough time to fine a superintendent.

Management has no authority to grant vacation. (Non union Super)

V

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Our managing agent has say so on when the super goes on vacation. The board has no say whatsoever.

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I currently work as a full-time super/resident manager. Whenever I intended to go on vacation, I e-mail all the board members to let them know, I then will call the board president to make sure its ok. I do this for the simple reason that nothing is planned for the time I will be away, even though when I am away I have good coverage. Then after I get the ok, I will then inform the building manager. But also my board and I have a GREAT relationship, so then again if I were to tell them at the last minute they would happily tell me to enjoy myself, and to not worry about the building, it will be here when you return. What this board needs to do is define the level of communication. Also who has the right authorize vacation request and in most buildings its usually 30 day written notice is standard, unless a emergency or death should arise.

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If your Board wants a say, it has every right to have a say. In our particular case, our property manager does an excellent job coordinating vacation time with our Superintendent in terms of finding coverage, not scheduling any big projects during the vacation, and sending memos to all shareholders with the contact information for the replacement. With that in mind, our Board's take is that we set policy and the managing agent is paid to handle the nitty-gritty day-to-day tasks like Superintendent vacation time. How hand-on your Board wants to be is up to you Board members--not your property manager.

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Uneven heat distribution - Ronald Krigsman PE Jul 16, 2008


Uneven heat distribution is a common problem - especially in old buildings.

A common cause - easily remedied - is defective or improperly located air vents or steam traps.

Sometimes radiators have been changed and the new ones are too small.

Improper location of the indoor sensor can cause improper heat cycle time.

Of course, old windows may allow cold drafts that cause existing radiators to be inadequate.

There are many possible reasons but the above are very common and I have seen all of them in buildings I inspected.

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Building Name Change - Greg Healy Jul 16, 2008


Several shareholders of our coop have inquired to have the buildings name changed. Has anyone ever dealt with this kind of action?

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Without revealing the name, what is the reason for the change? What are the thoughts of the shareholders?

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The issue seems to be "out with the old, in with the new" to set a different direction for the coop than has previously been chartered. It would seem silly, but many have gotten on the band wagon.

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Our coop has no name other than its street address. We have at least one shareholder who wants us to call ourselves "The Bromingfield" or some such, but whenever this issue is raised at our annual meeting, it is invariably met with rolling eyes and are-you-kidding looks from the other shareholders.

That said, it might not be unreasonable to consider a name change if (a) you've just done a major overhaul of the building and want a snazzy new name to attract buyers, or (b) your building is named something really awful like "Hitler House."

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I haven't, but many aspects of Coops are governed by the NYS Business Corporation Law. Regular business corporations change their name (e.g. Apple Computers is now Apple Inc.) so I can't imagine it's that hard for a coop to do. I would think the Certificate of Incorporation would have to be changed.

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Corporation names are registered with the State and you will be engaging your counsel if this is being changed. However, unless a name in a municipality may be extremely well known, you may not need to request a formal name change.

Although the NYT article cited below refers to commercial buildings, I can see how this may be similar to residential buildings and why certain individuals may wish to change the name of the building where you live.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/05/business/05name.html?fta=y


Finally, I said a while ago, that a shareholder who puts $200,000t to change the doors of the co-op not expected to be paid back, perhaps should have his/her name be part of the building. (Just a joke!!!)

AdC

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Wax Ring - West Cty board member Jul 15, 2008


Who is responsible for the wax ring, flange or lead bend repair and subsequent repair to bathroom tile floor?

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The wax ring is shareholder's responsibility. Why? Because without a wax ring, a toilet (shareholder owned fixture) cannot be set into the lead bend. The wax ring acts like a gasket.

The lead bend - This is infrastructure. Connects the stack with the hole on the floor of the bathroom. The led bend is securted to the floor of the bathroom with the flange. When the lead bend fails, the co-op replaces it and changes the wax ring at no cost to the shareholder.. Please note that the toilet must be removed so that the new lead bend is fastened to the flange.


Flange - Co-op responsibility. This is the end of the infrastructure plumbing. I"t "grabs" the lead bend and secures it to the floor of the bathroom.


AdC

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Unless you damaged the bathroom subflfoor for which you are responsible, you may repair the tiles with common original tiles to provide evenness when setting the toilet. Remember, tiles are the responsibility of the shareholder as it is not co-op responsibility. The co-op is responsible for subflooring. This is an area of great misunderstanding and sensitivity when a floor is chopped or damaged and expensive tiles or flooring are placed by shareholders. Shareholders need to have extra tiles for contingency situations such as the one you describe.

However, watchout for double tiles, i.e., a tile floor placed on top of the original tile in the bathroom. This is a shortcut that creates problems. In other words, the new tile may have elevated the floor under the toilet and created a separation between the toilet and flange that now requires a double wax ring. This problem sometimes creates water leaks.

Another shortcut that you may see is the second flooring was placed around the toilet, i.e., the tile person did not remove the toilet to place the second flooring, thus surrounded the toilet with the new tiles. If these surrounding tiles around the toilet were chopped to remove and reset the toilet, I would refuse doing anything. After all why take responsibility for shoddy work. In my view, a shareholder short changed the work with unprofessional work. Thus, they should pay the consequences of a poor election.

AdC

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Thanks ADC. Are you saying that the Corp does not have to replace the floor tiles?, just provide a level surface for the new tiles to be adhered to? When we change shower bodies, we replace the tile-why the difference?

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I said, "you may repair the tiles with common original tiles to provide evenness when setting the toilet". If the shareholder has stock of the expensive tiles and you are using a contractor or someone to repair the chopped floor, rather than using common tile, you use what the shareholder supplies. However, the co-op should not pay for fancy tiles. The shareholder should be able to claim the loss through their its personal insurance.

Regarding your shower body, the answer is the same. To replace a shower body, your plumber needs to break the wall behid the tiles and break at least 8 to 10 tiles. Once the shower body is changed, you need to repair the wall behind the tile and you only need to cover with common tile. If the shareholder used fancy tiles, he should claim the loss through personal property insurance or provide the person who will restore the wall behind theh tile with the fancy tile to complete the job.

Remember, if there is a water leak that is determined to be part of coop responsibility and the wall was covered with a very expensive wallpaper or special decorative paint, the co-op is only responsible to repair the damage in a professional manner and prime the wall, but is not required to replace the wallpaper or repaint the wall in the original decorative manner. The shareholder claims damages through personal insurance.

AdC

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Difficult Deliverer - DN Jul 14, 2008


The delivery people of a major online grocer give our doormen and porter a hard time about using the basement entrance. Our porter keeps the lobby in great shape, and the wheels of the handtrucks leave tracks. Unlike the neighborhood stores, this company sends different people each time so the doormen have no relatinship with these strangers. Even if they use the basement entrance, they pop out of the building through the lobby. Banning that company would only punish innocent shareholders, in my opinion, but we're unsure what to do. Yes, I know it's the porter's job to keep things clean, but it's frustrating for him to see his hard work undone. Any suggestions?

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the tenants must come to the basement to pick up the items. from this particular delivery company. If they are not home then that is a differnt story. however, if the tenant is at home, they must come to the basement. Either that or the handtruck is eliminated in the basement and the boxes must go up by hand. usually they are not that heavy. many times the reason the fresh direct people like to go to the actual doors of the tenants is to get a tip.

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Thanks, ST. That's a good suggestion. If the delivery people can carry the boxes w/o the handtruck, it's fine to use the lobby. Our concern is protecting the lobby not any sense of snobbishness about keeping delivery people out of sight.

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