Written by Frank Lovece on April 15, 2014
In the immediacy of the moment during an apartment-house fire, people can panic. Timely information helps prevent panic. And so in the wake of high-profile high-rise fires, the question of how to get crucial fire information to building residents — whether through Internet- or phone-based systems or through what the industry calls "one-way communication" such as public-address systems in hallways or individual apartments — has become the New York City Council's next burning issue.
And unless that issue's addressed quickly, the desire to mandate life-saving communication paradoxically may cost lives.
Written by Frank Lovece on April 03, 2014
I'd probably be dead right now. Maybe you, too.
That's because in all the years I've been writing about co-ops and condos, including fire-exit regulations and Fire Dept. inspections, I probably would have headed down the stairs at The Strand. That's what Daniel McClung did during the blaze at that W. 43rd Street condominium on Jan. 5. Knowing only that his building was on fire, he tried to escape from the 32nd floor — and ran headlong into smoke from the 20th that killed him.
But I mean — it's a fire. You're supposed to get out, right?
Written by Frank Lovece on October 17, 2013
A five-year capital plan is an important tool co-op boards and condominium associations need in order to move their building forward in a cohesive, strategic way that optimizes the resources at hand. Trouble is, once you put something in writing, your shareholders and unit-owners don't always understand that real life sometimes gets in the way: The economy plunges, and banks won't give you the loan you need; you want to install a gym, but heavy snow and unseen longtime damage makes your garage roof cave in. You know how it goes. So with residents ready to pounce, should you share the plan with the shareholders/unit-owners?
Written by Frank Lovece on October 08, 2013
Co-op and condominium boards have many reasons to lay out a five-year capital-improvement plan. Among other things, it helps you budget, it helps eliminate or lessen assessments, and it makes lenders look more favorably upon your building and its residents' apartments when it comes to refinancing. And for condo associations, Fannie Mae — a.k.a. the Federal National Mortgage Association — requires you have a capital plan or put aside 10 percent of the monthly common charges.
Written by Frank Lovece on September 26, 2013
If you prepare for the worst, you're better off in the long run. Except when you're not. A few years ago, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) suggested that every co-op and condo's financial statement contain information about the remaining useful life of — and the replacement cost for — all the building's infrastructure. Makes sense, right? Not to some attorneys and accountants.
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