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Convincing the BoardApr 11, 2007


I'm on my board a long time. We have very little debt and a reasonable reserve. For years I've asked my board to paint resident service areas, patch holes in storerooms to keep out mice and bugs, and do general repairs in bldg rooms that haven't been touched in years. Total cost is $4K-$5K.

They say why spend money on areas visitors don't see. They want to redo the lobby for $50K only because they want a more "modern" look, and to redo our landscaping which is fine and thriving. I know curb appeal is important but how do I convince them some bldg work has to be done and the cost won't break our bank? I feel like doing the work myself (which I won't) but this is very frustrating.


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Convincing the board - AdC Apr 11, 2007


I know what you mean and believe me, I am with you. If your lobby and landscaping is still in good shape, it may need some retouches at lower cost to make it look refreshed. HOwever, total care of the building is important to even increase general quality of living of the building.

Years ago, the compactor rooms in my co-op were painted, holes patched to prevent bugs, and new ceramic tiles were used to make the room look nicer. The cost was less than $2,000. Interesting enough, many residents put down the project and even came to say they looked like shower closets, etc.

A year later, they were praising the look of the place and what a great idea was to do them over.

In your case, learn from water and wind. The elements will not break or wear the rock in one day, but over a period of time. If I were you, I would go to the pet shop and contribute to the point by planting some mice and roaches to add to the point! Well never mind devilish idea. When budget time comes, try to convince the board to put a discretionary amount of money such as $4K or $5K to do minor projects that will contribute to the enhancement of "occult" areas of the builidng.

Good luck!

AdC


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Reply to AdC - BP Apr 11, 2007


Thanks for the advice. The property manager and I have tried to work money into the budget for minor projects and my board won't go for that either. And these are different board members, not all the same ones every year. They don't get it that because a bldg hasn't caved in doesn't mean it doesn't need work to keep it in good shape. Maybe something has to cave in before they got the picture. ugh


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BP, You're not alone - AdC Apr 11, 2007


A problem that I see in many board members is their lack of interest for the physical plant. I have told board members to come for a walk on Saturday or a Sunday to look at all the problems. GREAT IDEA!!! but the words do not follow the action.

So, when I tell them that we need to excavate certain areas of the foundation because of water penetration, they look incredulous.

What can I tell you. Unless it happens in the apartments of those who serve, it is not considered life threatening. No wonder you find individuals with garage doors that make noise, yet they questions whether the co-op needs to pay for it, or the gas leak behind the wall and who to charge for the problem.

AdC

AdC


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(to AdC and BP) - V Apr 12, 2007


That is the problem with some people on boards. They are there to service themselves only with no regard to anything else that happens to shareholders. I too am in the same boat. Can't get the board to focus on anything small that will aid in the long run. Keeping bugs and rodents out of a building is more important in the long run than having a pretty lobby. Where did these myopic people come from and when are they leaving? People elected to boards should be looking at the big picture to run their buildings


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Re: Convincing the Board - Pgrech Apr 12, 2007


I have found over the ages, that a building that has the mechanical areas, basements, elevator rooms, etc., clean, painted and well lighted add to the motivation of the staff. It also gives the staff pride. In other words it is not a dingy place to work. Also, the attitudes of contractor change as well, when they work in such well kept buildings (they tend to do a less sloppy job). While these areas are hidden to most people, so are the rewards of their good up keep.
It is rather simple, pay a little now or pay much more later as the cost may end up costing more then just money later.
Not sure if I am making any sense.
PGrech



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maintenance of private areas - RLMcKee Apr 12, 2007


When prospective buyers have building inspectors come, they often look at "private" areas, and these inspectors will note how well you maintain the building as a whole. Exterminators, contractors, and other vendors notice these things, too.

Our building has made an effort to maintain such spaces, and I speak from personal experience; our building has a reputation as "well kept." It makes a real difference in attitude from outside visitors.


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To PGrench, RLMcGee and V - AdC Apr 12, 2007


Thank you for giving another perspective of the positive.

You're absolutely right! It adds to motivation, it adds to perception of vendors and inspectos.

I would say that in my builidng, we have tried to keep these areas painted, and above all clean. In fact, the staff is reprimanded if they allow vendors to be sloppy in these areas. There is no reason why a vendor is paid for a service and leave things in worse shape.

Finally, the fact that clean areas are a morale booster to employees is a fact and I thank you for those good reminders!

AdC


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Attention to detail - Ted-NJ Apr 12, 2007


When my children were in junior high school in Rockland County (previous residence), the principal and I were very well acquainted as we both were active Scouters.

The story he related to me, which is probably germane here, was his philosophy on graffiti. Basically the custodians had standing rules that graffiti needed to be cleaned or painted within minutes of discovery as one begets many.

Likewise in a co-op, a failure to pay attention to detail in one area, so begets poor or slovenly practices in many areas. Some practices may even give rise to hazardous conditions that could lead to injury. A case in point is our indoor and outdoor parking areas. As soon as a vehicle is discovered with an oil leak, absorbent materials are applied and the resident is admonished to remove the car and have it repaired, lest oil accumulations lead to pedestrian slips or falls and damage to the protective coatings.

While we don’t “fine” in our building for infractions by shareholders, we do admonish via formal letters.



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upkeep (To Ted) - Fat Nickie Apr 12, 2007


Don't quote me on this Ted but I think they refer this as "the broken window theory". If left unchecked it becomes two, three, etc windows broken.

FN.


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Reply to TedNJ - BP Apr 12, 2007


I agree that poorly maintained bldg areas can be hazards. Our 2 stairwells were used by everyone, including movers, during our 8-wk elevator upgrade in '05 and a power failure in '06. Some residents use the stairs daily for exercise. Steps have cracks/broken edges. You think I get my board to patch/paint the stairwells? Last time was 1997. They won't even spend money to just repair the faulty steps. I also suggested battery-operated stick-on lights for stairwells in case of future power failures. They said no to that too. I guess someone has to fall down the stairs and break a leg (and probably be sued) before my board wakes up.

I'm tempted to ask shhldrs at the annual meeting to vote on allocating, say, $20K for small bldg jobs. I'd avoid saying our boards repeatedly refuse to do it. If I can't avoid saying that, my board will resent me for going "straight to the people". I'd rather not do that anyway, but I'm at a loss for other solutions to this. Anyone have more ideas?


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building upkeep (to all) - Fat Nickie Apr 12, 2007


I agree with each and everyone of you on the above. It should be the upkeep and maintenance of the entire property.

Should we not worry about the service entrance as many shareholders/guests come in the main entrance anyway?

Not many people use the storage facility in the sub cellar so that is OK I guess? (why sweep and mop it)

It is the housekeepers that mess up the laundry room, so let them sort it out.

No,no,no, last time I checked this was part of the property. And yes, shareholders do notice. A good superintendent will perform periodic inspections, write up punch lists and if it is within his/her power take care of it. If funding is needed the super should bring it to property manager/boards attention (documented of course)

Fat Nickie




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Back to the Basics - NSB Apr 13, 2007


Sometimes in situations like these it's best to get back to the basics and see if the Board is in compliance with governing documents and applicable law.

Maintenance of common areas is one of the Board's major responsibilities. It seems that the "minor" repairs, especially those to keep out vermin, are unavoidable. There could even be code violations there. Not repairing these areas could be putting the building at risk in a number of different areas. A Board that does not act could open itself to fines and/or lawsuits.

Regarding the facelift, again, the Board has fiduciary responsibility to the owners. Is the facelift in the best interest of the building? Can the Board's decision stand up as "prudent business judgment."

Otherwise, think about a vote by all shareholders. There may even be a clause in your governing docs that requires a vote if capital expenses exceed a certain amount. If you go that way, make sure the shareholders know the impact the costs would have on the building’s finances.

Where are you in the lifespan of the building's major components? Will your building be able to recover the cost of the facelift before it's reasonable to expect, say, an elevator or boiler replacement?

Finally, maybe you can get some compromises to reduce the costs of the facelift.



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