Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare

Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare

Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare [May 2022 Community Associations Journal]

Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare

“Alexa, play a song about fire…” Three hours and fifty-two songs later, this playlist is still burning it up. From Adele to Led Zeppelin, practically every artist or band has recorded a song about fire. The theme is as ubiquitous as fire itself; both rhetorically and literally, fire permeates everything. This is what makes wildfire such a formidable foe. Wildfire prevention and preparation are essential for homeowner boards in associations and condominiums.
On a cold night, a warm fire is a good thing. On a hot, dry summer day, fire can destroy everything in its path and leave devastation behind. The duality of this element has created both fear and fascination. For the world in which we live now, the summers are hotter and drier than at any time in recently recorded history. In the Western states, this is particularly true.

Find fire systems professionals and fire cleanup and restoration services in our Business Directory.

Temperatures On The Rise

Every season, we see news stories of suburban areas and sometimes entire towns being destroyed by raging wildfires. They sweep through areas faster than firefighting crews can contain them.

Summers are hotter and drier than at any time in recently recorded history.

In 2021, Washington State saw a total of 674,249 acres burned in wildfires; that’s just over 1,000 square miles. That is nearly half the size of all of King County, or about 73% of Olympic National Park. Only 12% of those were lightning-caused; the remaining 88% were human-caused.
This means associations do not need to live in fear that fires are unpreventable or uncontrollable. Association boards and owners can garner the resources they have, and establish feasible plans for prevention and preparedness.
In 2021, Washington State saw a total of 674,249 acres burned in wildfires; that’s just over 1,000 square miles.

There are quite are a few wildfire preventative measures you can take—and several questions you should ask—about the potential impact of wildfires on your association.
wildfire-preparedness-homeowners
Washington’s Lush Green Turned to Smoking Ash — Landscape charred in the wake of a 2020 wildfire in Washington State.
wildfire-prevention-condo-hoa
Fire Leaves Little to be Salvaged — The leftover remnants of residential development destroyed in the fire.
Only 12% of those wildfires were lightning-caused; the remaining 88% were human-caused.

Wildfire Prevention and Preparation for Condominiums and Homeowners Associations

[1] Evaluate Your Community’s Risk

If you live in a condo over the water, your association’s risk of wildfire will be different from another that borders a forested area or overgrown neighboring parcels. Check with the landscaper about vegetation management and seek options for burn-resistant plants.

Check with the landscaper about vegetation management and options for burn-resistant plants.

Be sure to stay on top of regular maintenance and enforcement on items that place the association at increased risk of fire. Overgrown yards, open backyard fire-pits, and barbecue grills on patios are examples of increased fire risk in an association.

Question: If you walked through your community right now, how many wildfire risks can you identify?
[2] Educate Your Community

Too often, community residents think of wildfire as something that happens somewhere else, like an old-growth forest in the middle of nowhere. The National Fire Protection Association (NAFP) has abundant resources for public education about wildfire risks. Likewise, their Firewise USA program will assist your community in understanding how to prepare for and reduce the risk of wildfire in your community.

Question: What resources does your community use to inform its residents about wildfire risks and prevention?
[3] Develop a Plan

It’s best to have two ways to evacuate your community, and all the residents need to know exactly where they are and how to access them. Therefore, be sure this information is included in the welcome packet for new owners moving into the association.

Encourage all owners to be prepared for an evacuation by having a pre-packed ‘go bag’ that contains copies of important documents, emergency contact numbers, prescriptions and medications, emergency cash or credit card, and a first-aid kit including hygiene items and emergency fire blankets. In the same vein, don’t forget pets’ needs!

A ‘go bag’ contains copies of important documents, contact numbers, prescriptions and medications, emergency money, and a first-aid kit with hygiene items and emergency blankets.

Question: At what point should you evacuate if a wildfire is near your home?
[4] Review Your Insurance

Engage in a candid conversation with your insurance agent about wildfire coverage. Be sure you know if your rates are based on historical loss or projected risk. Furthermore, seek ways the association can reduce the projected risk through environmental design and proactive vegetation management.

Be sure you know if your insurance rates are based on historical loss or projected risk.

wildfire-residential-destruction-burned
Shriveled and Melted by Intense Heat — The insulation is burned to the ground and distorted, a testament to the intensity of the heat that surged through this area.
Additionally, be sure that the owners in your community understand their responsibility to carry their own coverage for personal possessions along with relocation expenses if their home or unit is lost in a wildfire.
Question: Do you have your insurance information easily accessible for an emergency evacuation?
Reduce the projected risk through environmental design and proactive vegetation management.

A Human Imperative

Although this information may seem obvious, it does not make it any less important or valuable. In a world where you can ask your virtual device to do everything from playing music to having food delivered, fire preparedness and prevention are still human endeavors. “Alexa, play The Sound of Sunshine.” article endmark

Joy Steele is a Community Manager for HOA Organizers, Inc. and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and Toastmasters. In her spare time, she enjoys pursuing creative endeavors and spending time with loved ones.

Joy Steele, CMCA, AMS

Community Manager, HOA Organizers, Inc.

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Playground Inspections

Playground Inspections

Playground Inspections [April 2022 Community Associations Journal]

Playground Inspections

Watching my granddaughters have fun, playground inspections, repairs, safety standards, and maintenance are the last things on my mind. When I think of playgrounds, I think of kids having fun—climbing, swinging, sliding, zip-lining, etc., the list goes on and on. There are so many amazing playground features now! Kids aren’t thinking about how safe playground equipment might be, they just want to see how fast they can slide, how high they can climb, and how high they can get the swing to go.
Many adults are also focussed on the fun the kids are having. While we may be able to look at some equipment and immediately know it isn’t safe to play on, there are significant hidden playground inspection elements that most of us are relying on someone else to have checked for so that we can just let the kids play. Find playground equipment professionals in the WSCAI Business Directory.

Playground Inspections for Everyone’s Safety

Unless you have taken a playground safety course, most people don’t know the minimum depth of protective surfacing that is required under playground equipment. Without the correct protective surfacing, a fall can turn from a fractured arm or leg to a severe head injury or death. While the protective surfacing isn’t meant to stop any and all injuries, it can greatly reduce the severity of the injury if adequately installed and maintained.
According to The National Recreation and Park Association, more than 200,000 children are injured due to playground accidents, and another 15 die due to injuries suffered while playing at a park. Many of these injuries could be avoided with the use of playground inspections.
According to the National Recreation and Park Association, more than 200,000 children are injured in playground accidents.

The National Recreation and Park Association has created a Playground Maintenance Course that provides an overview of playground safety standards and guidelines on responsibilities, maintenance, surfacing, and other playground inspection items. This course is great for maintenance staff or those responsible for playground maintenance and safety.
playground-safety-inspections-disc-swing
Figure 1: Creating Play Appeal — Making a good first impression counts, the disc swing looks like fun in this picture! But just because it looks safe, doesn’t mean it is safe. When you take a much closer look, you realize that there was a safety concern. (See Figure 2)
playground-inspections-swing-repair
Figure 2: Not Safe After All — One of the screws supporting the swing’s weight had been loosened and the other screw was entirely missing. This swing was immediately closed until a repair could be made. Such findings and consequent repairs prevent undue hazards.
They offer a program to become a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI), which provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date training on playground safety issues.

Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

In addition, there is also a program to become a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI), which provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date training on playground safety issues including hazard identification, equipment specifications, surfacing requirements, and risk management methods.
The more often playground inspections are done, the more likely you are to prevent accidents.

CPSI’s provide a detailed and thorough inspection of playgrounds so that if there is a safety concern, it can be addressed prior to anyone getting hurt. The more often these are done, the more likely you are to prevent an accident, but of course, there are limitations. We have had inspections done and the following day received reports of safety concerns due to vandalism.

Playground Safety & Inspection Frequency

Our community has nine playgrounds. The onsite staff have taken the playground safety course and do weekly inspections of the parks.

We also have monthly playground inspections done by a CPSI that inspects every bolt, screw, s-hook, post, footing, clamp, enclosure, (the list goes on and on and on) to ensure that the playgrounds are in safe condition. The additional safety inspections help find hidden items that onsite staff have missed.

playground-inspections-safety-coating-ewf
Figure 3: Inadequate Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) — An example of a playground with inadequate engineered wood fiber (EWF). The red lines on the equipment legs should not be seen and should be covered by the EWF.

Safety, Liability, & Visual Appeal

The ultimate benefit of playground inspections by far is keeping the playgrounds in good condition for the safety of the children who use them. In addition, the community’s liability is greatly reduced by their due diligence in ensuring that the equipment and the playground are well-maintained and safe. Of course, kids can still fall or get hurt, but records of proper inspections and maintenance show that your community’s playground was in good order and safety concerns were not neglected.
With annual (minimum) playground inspections by a trained CPSI and monthly maintenance inspections, potential problems can be addressed before they result in any injuries.

Regularly inspected playgrounds are not only more visually appealing, but they are also much safer and reduce risk to the users. Playgrounds are an important part of providing children with the safe and healthy playtime that they need. By having an annual (at a minimum) inspection by a Certified Playground Inspector in addition to a minimum of monthly maintenance inspections, you will find that potential problems can be addressed before they result in any injuries. article endmark

Sandy Cobb has been the Onsite Director for the Redmond Ridge ROA since 2012. When Sandy is not working, she enjoys spending time with her 4 granddaughters and is also a foster parent to two little girls. Sandy uses her little bit of spare time to sleep…

Sandy Cobb, CMCA

Onsite Director, Redmond Ridge ROA

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Neighbor Conflicts: True Mediation Stories

Neighbor Conflicts: True Mediation Stories

Neighbor Conflicts: True Mediation Stories [Community Associations Journal]

Neighbor Conflicts: True Mediation Stories

Neighbor conflicts can unsettle your whole community. Suing your neighbor only heightens hostilities. Courts do rough justice—it’s like performing surgery with a chainsaw. In contrast, working together with a trained mediator allows disputing neighbors to arrive at solutions personalized to their unique needs. Research shows that solutions reached through mediation are more durable than those imposed by a court.
This article introduces you to some factual neighbor conflicts that can (or cannot) be addressed through WSCAI’s Mediation Program. The cost of mediation is a fraction of the cost to sue a neighbor. Lawyer’s fees pile up and it is not unusual to spend upwards of $50,000 just to get to trial. Add the even higher cost of the trial itself plus the risk of having to pay more if you lose.

The following accounts are true scenarios of neighbor disputes that have been modified to anonymize the identity of original parties as well as the HOA or condo developments they live in.

Neighbor dispute resolutions through mediation are more durable than court orders by lawsuit.

Neighbor Conflict #1 — “Border Dispute”

The disputing parties are neighbors in an HOA. One is residential, the other is commercial. The commercial owners have erected a surveillance camera system for their property on which they store building equipment and supplies. The residential neighbors, in response, have erected a fence that may or may not be on the property line because they feel that the cameras look directly into their home.

The commercial unit wants the residential unit to get a survey and relocate the fence. The residential unit is balking due to the cost of the survey, and because a retaining wall on the property line will require special fasteners that are expensive. Each accuses the other of overactive surveillance and poor communication.

The commercial owner’s interest in security conflicts with the residential owner’s interest in privacy.

Interests: The commercial unit owners have an interest in safety and protecting their property. They also do not want the residential unit owners adversely possessing any portion of their property with their fence. The residential homeowners have an interest in privacy. Both parties have an interest in communication and a desire to be a good neighbor in the HOA. Neither party wants to go to court.

Resolution: The commercial owners committed to pay a specified portion of the survey and fence replacement. The residential unit agreed to move the fence. The commercial owners agreed to re-direct their surveillance cameras away from the residential property. They reserved the right to install them so that they covered the entirety of their property.

Finally, both parties made a commitment to communicate better with one another. The agreement they came up with set out realistic goals such as if one of their properties were affected, they would notify the other within a certain number of days.

neighbor-dispute-privacy-security-camera
Resolve HOA and Condo Neighbor Disputes — Instead of suing your neighbor, try employing a trained mediator to come to an agreement that is beneficial and satisfactory to both parties’ interests.

The other gave the commitment to respond within a certain number of days. They exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. They resolved to return to mediation for any future neighbor conflict.

Neighbor Conflict #2 — “Building Hostilities”

The problem begins simply enough with the parties parking next to each other in the condominium parking lot. Then the male accuses the female of purposefully damaging his vehicle (think key scratches). The female denies it and then, later, accuses the male of damaging her car in the same manner. The neighbor feud spans 3 to 4 years of hostility, exchanging nasty looks and giving each other the middle finger.

The hostility goes on for 3 to 4 years devolving into nasty looks and giving each other the middle finger.

The issue comes to a head when the female is taking a bus home from work and the male gets on, stands behind her, and allegedly pushes her when she moves to get off the bus. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the female uses a common stairway from her unit on the second floor to access the first-floor exit, which is closest to the bus stop she commonly uses.

neighbor-conflict-feud-vandalism-harassment
The neighbor conflict begins simply enough with the parties parking next to each other in the condominium parking lot. Then the male accuses the female of purposefully damaging his vehicle (think key scratches).
The use of this stairway means that she always passes in front of the male’s doorway. He knows this because he has a surveillance camera set up (with the permission of the Board). There is another stairwell she could use that does not pass by his door, but she does not consider it as convenient.
The male boards the same bus, stands behind the female, and allegedly pushes her as she moves to get off the bus.

Interests: Both parties have an interest in the peaceful enjoyment of their unit and the common areas and in having their property respected. The female party has an interest in feeling (and being) safe.
Resolution: The parties first agree, oddly enough, that neither of them can prove the other damaged their vehicles. No witness or surveillance camera footage is available. So, they set this issue aside. The female claims that she uses the stairwell that causes her to pass by the male’s unit because it is the closest to the bus stop. The male argues that the stairwell at the other end of the hall is just as convenient. The female agrees to use that stairwell.

The parties then agree that if they see each other they will refrain from nasty faces and the finger. Further, if the male sees the female at the bus stop when he wants to catch a bus, he will go to the next bus stop to wait and refrain from getting on the same bus that she boards.

The agreement between the parties details which stairwells the female will use and the bus and bus stop that the male will use. The female agrees to explore moving her parking space with the Board.

The male agrees to wait at another bus stop and take a different bus.

Neighbor Dispute #3 — “Indebted”

Unit owner Anne has fallen behind on her assessments. She thinks she can catch up, but only if there is a payment plan in place. She has invited the community association board members to mediation in the hopes of obtaining a workable payment plan. Her goal is to pay off her assessments in six months.

neighbor-conflicts-hoa-debt-payments
Neighbor Conflicts With The HOA — Homeowner board members are fellow neighbors who want to get along in their communities. In this instance, board members used a mediator to work toward resolving a neighbor’s assessment debt.

She will be asking for the board members to waive late charges and interest fees so long as payment is made by a certain date each month. The board appoints one of its members to mediate on its behalf. They decide on what parameters would be acceptable to settle for. All board members agree to be available via email or cell on the day of mediation. They can be consulted if further authorization become necessary.

The homeowner hopes to catch up on her assessments with a workable payment plan.

Interests: The association board and Anne have a shared interest in getting her caught up on assessments. The board also has an interest in holding Anne accountable for her responsibilities under the Declaration. Anne has an interest in the enjoyment of her unit (that is, not getting foreclosed on).
Resolution: Board members are not averse to a payment plan. While willing to waive late fees, they are not willing to waive interest. The board believes that for the payment plan to work, Anne needs an incentive to pay off the debt as quickly as possible. They believe that charging interest will provide this incentive. Anne agrees but wants to negotiate the interest rate. The parties successfully agree on an interest rate. The matter is then sent to the board for their full approval.

Neighbor Conflict #4 — “Ulterior Motives”

The parties are an ex-boyfriend and girlfriend who live in the same condominium complex, though in different buildings. They even park in separate lots. The ex-boyfriend wants the return of the diamond engagement ring he gave her.

After opening statements from the parties, it became clear that the ex-girlfriend is scared of the ex-boyfriend. It is also apparent that the ex-boyfriend is using mediation to force contact with the ex-girlfriend.

neighbor-lawsuit-stalker-conflict-dispute

There are some neighbor conflicts that are not suited to mediation. — In this case, an ex-lover is pursuing mediation to force contact with his ex. Mediation actually enabled one party to stalk the other party, so mediation was halted.

It becomes clear that the woman is scared of her ex-boyfriend, and that he is simply pursuing mediation to force contact with her.

Interests: The ex-boyfriend would like the return of an expensive piece of jewelry. Additionally, the mediators suspect that suing his ex-girlfriend was simply a way to be in her presence. The ex-girlfriend has an interest in her personal safety and being left alone by the ex-boyfriend.

Resolution: The mediators made the decision to halt the mediation in this neighbor conflict. Forcing the parties to go forward would simply enable the stalking behavior of the ex-boyfriend. The mediators felt that the distance provided by a judge was the best course. It would enable the ex-girlfriend to negotiate without the added pressure to quickly eliminate the stalking behavior of the ex-boyfriend.

Feedback on Resolving Neighbor Disputes

Each of these examples are real scenarios that have been modified to anonymize the identity of the parties and the developments in which they live. Because there are many ways to resolve a neighbor dispute, I invite you to provide feedback in the comments. What other ways do you think these disputes could be resolved short of going to court?

The beauty of mediation is that there is always more than one way to solve a neighbor conflict. Mediation gives the disputing neighbors the control to make that happen. article endmark
Go to WSCAI’s Mediation Program

Mary Reiten, Esq. Senior Attorney at Peryea Silver Taylor, P.S.,
has significant experience representing both condominium associations and their members, counseling them through disputes and, when needed, instituting litigation. Mary has been practicing law for over 20 years and is licensed in Washington, California, and Alaska (inactive). She tailors her services to the needs of her clients. Together, you and Mary will design a response oriented towards litigation or mediation as the specifics of your case demand.

Mary Reiten, Esq.

Senior Attorney, Peryea Silver Taylor, P.S.

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Pool and Pond Safety Standards

Pool and Pond Safety Standards

Pool and Pond Safety [March 2022 Community Associations Journal]

Pool and Pond Safety Standards

We all benefit from time spent around the water. Whether it’s in the form of lakes, ponds, or even swimming pools, science proves that water instils a sense of peace and tranquility within each of us. HOAs often contain all three of these water resources, but proper management and safety precautions are required to reap the benefits. Without pool and pond safety measures, these aquatic ecosystems may become a danger and detriment to your community.
The following are some common questions and safety concerns expressed by community association managers and homeowners in communities where water is a focal point. Find pond and lake management professionals in the WSCAI Business Directory.

Is our community pond safe for swimming?

How can we tell? The best approach for validating safe water is periodic water quality analysis. Professional water quality consultants can identify problematic conditions, such as poor dissolved oxygen levels or imbalanced pH, and help determine the best management strategy to make pools and ponds safe for recreational use. There are also some visual ways to determine if a pond is safe for swimming.
Using basic observatory skills and judgment, some “red flags” of unsafe waters can indicate the need for water quality testing. Water color is a good primary indicator of water quality; if it is noticeably different or unusual (i.e. green, soupy-looking), there is likely an issue.
Water color is a primary indicator.

Although green water may indicate an algae bloom, not all algae are green and some can produce harmful toxins. Another red flag is the scent. Foul odors can be produced by harmful factors within the water body and can indicate that something is wrong. A visible fish kill or other wildlife impacts also signal that the waterbody is unfit for use and may need water quality tests to determine pool and pond safety.
pool-and-pond-safety-toxic-algae
Toxic Algae — Toxic algae is not just unsightly, it can be harmful to humans, pets, and other wildlife. Exposure to harmful algal blooms may lead to sickness and permanent physical and neurological ailments. Managing algae is critical to pool and pond safety.
Algae colors vary—not all are green, yet they can produce harmful toxins. Foul odors can also signal harmful factors within the water body and indicate that something is wrong.

pool-and-pond-safety-water-quality-testing

The best approach for validating safe water quality is periodic water analysis. Ongoing water quality testing can reveal a wealth of information, including problematic ecological changes. Early identification allows professionals to intervene before imbalances get out of hand.

Is recreation safe in deep water?

Deep water can be beneficial in lakes and ponds. In fact, deeper water is usually desirable. Greater depths are associated with fewer flooding events, more abundant fish and wildlife, and, in some cases, fewer algae and odor problems.
Deeper water comes with fewer flooding events, more abundant fish and wildlife, and, in some cases, fewer algae and odor problems.

Lakes and ponds with more depth are also deemed “younger,” meaning they shouldn’t require dredging for many years. This is a process of muck and sediment removal that restores an aging pond but is extremely invasive and costly for a community association.
Nonetheless, deep water can be dangerous for residents, particularly children. Less visibility in the water column makes it more difficult to recognize underwater hazards like stormwater equipment, tree branches, debris, and even steep drop-offs. Aquatic weeds may also be submerged below the surface. Hydrilla, milfoil, and other nuisance plants have been known to drown swimmers, including experienced athletes. Best practices like cleaning plant material from kayaks, nets, toys, and water equipment will help prevent the spread of invasive species.
Lower visibility in deep water makes it more difficult to recognize underwater hazards.

How can residents enjoy waterbodies safely?

Installing docks and gazebos around the water is an excellent way to encourage residents to safely enjoy fishing, feeding ducks, and nature watching. It’s also beneficial to establish clear, durable paths to the water to prevent residents from venturing into unsafe areas. This can be accomplished naturally by planting beneficial plants like blueflag iris, cardinal flower, and native sedges and rushes. Allowing them to grow at least 18 in. high and 3-5 ft. from the shoreline will create a visually-appealing buffer while preventing sediment, trash, and pollutants from flowing into the water during rainstorms. And if shoreline sediment has eroded significantly, professional bioengineering solutions may be required to restore stability and aesthetics. The waterbody shoreline is a significant element in pool and pond safety.
pool-and-pond-safety-shoreline-restoration
Shoreline Restoration — No matter how well a waterbody is managed, ecological balance cannot be achieved without a healthy shoreline. Addressing erosion problems first will help set your waterbody up for continued success.

Pool and Pond Safety Education

This should go hand-in-hand with education about water safety. Knowledgeable residents are able to make more informed decisions and be more vigilant when spending time around lakes, ponds, and pools with their families. It’s essential for communities to post proper signage around water resources. Likewise, it’s important to wear life jackets, use sunscreen, avoid diving and running near the water, refrain from swimming past dusk, and make sure a lifeguard or chaperone is always present. More pool and pond safety tips can be found at www.safekids.org.
It’s essential for communities to post proper signage around all water resources.

pool-and-pond-safety-community-pond
Community Pond — Community lakes and ponds can be a valuable asset for HOAs, apartment complexes, and other residential communities, but improper management can make them a liability.

Consistency is Key for Pool and Pond Safety

While good judgment and observation can offer a lot of information, responsible maintenance will make the biggest difference. Water management is most impactful and cost-effective when conducted on a consistent basis.
Experts can apply sustainable strategies such as nutrient mitigation, beneficial bacteria applications, aeration and oxygenation solutions.

This allows experts to monitor aquatic conditions and quickly address them with sustainable strategies like nutrient mitigation, beneficial bacteria applications, aeration and oxygenation solutions, and—as a last resort—EPA-registered herbicides or algaecides, which can be applied by professional drones for increased safety and efficiency. article endmark

Trent is an Aquatic Specialist at SOLitude Lake Management. He focuses on helping property managers and communities maintain healthy, balanced aquatic ecosystems and enjoys educating them on the importance of sustainable freshwater management. Trent has spent more than a dozen years working closely with homeowner’s associations, golf courses, and municipalities.

Trent Nelson

Aquatic Specialist, SOLitude Lake Management

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Indoor Air Quality Tips

Indoor Air Quality Tips

[ Blog/News ]

Indoor Air Quality Tips

At COIT, we believe that indoor air quality is an important aspect of any healthy home and business and the CDC agrees especially because COVID viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. Other contaminants ranging from cigarette smoke to allergens, chemicals from paint or glues, or outdoor pollutants that travel through windows, can affect the quality of clean indoor air.

According to the Daily Green, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates people spend 90% of their time indoors, but indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.  Ventilation system upgrades or improvements can increase the delivery of clean air and dilute potential contaminants. Consult experienced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals when considering changes to HVAC systems and equipment. The American Lung Association and the CDC offers numerous tips for protecting indoor air. 

By paying attention to your Indoor Air Quality, you’ll be taking a big step toward keeping your family’s home environment clean and healthy from Covid and numerous other pathogens. 

Covid Air Quality Tips
  1. Open outdoor air dampers beyond minimum settings to reduce or eliminate HVAC air recirculation.
  2. Ventilate your rooms well. Open windows when safe and possible, and install venting for appliances and in unvented bathrooms. Make sure all vents connect to the outdoors. Fireplaces and wood or gas stoves must also be vented properly to the outside, because they can produce carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particle pollution, and other toxic air pollutants.
    1. Use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows
  3. Turn off any demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on occupancy or temperature during occupied hours. In homes and buildings where the HVAC fan operation can be controlled at the thermostat, set the fan to the “on” position instead of “auto,” which will operate the fan continuously, even when heating or air-conditioning is not required.
  4. Inspect and maintain exhaust ventilation systems in areas such as kitchens, cooking areas, etc.

By paying attention to your Indoor Air Quality, you’ll be taking a big step toward keeping your family’s home environment clean and healthy from Covid and numerous other pathogens. End Of Article

By Superior Cleaning & Restoration

By Superior Cleaning & Restoration

Chapter Happenings Sponsor, February 2022

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Asphalt Maintenance

Asphalt Maintenance

Asphalt Maintenance [Jan-Feb 2022 Community Associations Journal]

Asphalt Maintenance

Asphalt maintenance is typically one of the biggest expenses an association faces on a regular basis. Many associations deal with this and unfortunately, none get a free pass. Asphalt maintenance comes down to preparation and being proactive. This means starting now.
The first step is a professional assessment. You need an assessment to understand the current state of the streets and parking lot. What should an assessment include? Well, you must photograph, measure, and identify everything wrong with the property. What does this start with?
Find asphalt professionals in the WSCAI Business Directory.

Elements of an Asphalt Maintenance Assessment

  • Crack fill. How many linear feet of cracks – with a width greater than ¼ of an inch – are in the parking lot? You need linear feet so that when you go to bid, everyone bids the exact same thing.
  • Quantity of raised concrete edges. This occurs when the concrete sidewalk panels are raised, typically, from tree roots creating a trip hazard. You should grind these down or replace them if the concrete is raised too high.
  • Linear footage of curbs that must be painted.
  • Linear footage of broken curbs that must be replaced.
  • Number of stencils on curbs and what the stencils say. For example: “No Parking. Fire Lane.”
  • Number of hash marks, stalls, handicapped stencils, arrows, etc. This helps the contractor know the exact amount of striping to propose.
  • Identify all areas that are alligatoring in the parking lot. Create a map, then number the map and correlate the map with pictures to ensure you know exactly where each area of failed asphalt lives. Then, mark each picture with a red box or circle and provide the square footage; this way, each contractor bids the exact same space. For areas damaged by tree roots, simply mark them as RR (root removal) on the map and photos to ensure all areas are properly identified.
  • Finally, create an overview site map. Google Earth is a helpful tool that shows the exact square footage of the entire parking lot. A site map is necessary to ensure accurate area measurements for seal coating.

Provide a map identifying each area of failed asphalt, noting square footage. This way, each contractor bids the exact same space.

asphalt maintenance painting

Identifying Needed Materials

  • High Strength Concrete

    Curbs and concrete should be poured with high strength concrete. This concrete should be 4000 PSI mixed with a 6-sack mix. This gives you a very strong concrete that is less likely to crack and fail.
  • Marking Paint

    How many linear feet of cracks – with a width greater than ¼ of an inch – are in the parking lot? You need linear feet so that when you go to bid, everyone bids the exact same thing.
  • Seal Coating

    When it comes to seal coating, we recommend two coats of Armor Seal A 100 HD, or similar. This is a heavy-duty commercial grade product. Make sure that technicians install two coats and communicate this requirement up front. Otherwise, contractors may dilute the product with water or only apply one coat, which will significantly lessen how long the seal coat will last. With two coats, the application should last 5-7 years.
  • Crack Filler

    We recommend direct fire crack filler from Armor Seal or similar. This is very important, and it is recommended that this be done annually. Crack filler prevents surface water from getting to the substrate soil. To see how this could be a problem, picture what happens when you put a soda can in the freezer. It expands and ultimately explodes. Similarly, water gets under the asphalt through cracks and then as the ground temperature drops below freezing, the water under the asphalt freezes and expands creating more cracks, more damage, and more money in costly asphalt repairs. Sealing these cracks in the parking lot helps prevent this costly damage from occurring.
  • Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)

    For any and all new paving or patching, be sure to use Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA). We currently consider HMA the best because it cools very quickly, which allows for quick vehicle access after the work has been completed. HMA is also the most durable grade of asphalt, and because of this, it’s used on most high traffic roads and freeways. Never allow any type of cold mix asphalt application. Cold mixes will flake out and fail.
  • Milling

    If the lot is in such bad condition that it must be completely replaced, we recommend a mill and pave option. Milling is where the asphalt contractor comes in with a milling machine and grinds and compacts the existing asphalt and hauls off the grindings. If, for example, a parking lot is 4 inches thick, the contractor may mill off 2.5 inches. Once the milling is complete, the remaining asphalt receives new tack and a fresh, smooth, HMA application. We believe that this process yields the best results for community associations.
Water entering through cracks and freezing under asphalt can lead to damage for the same reasons a soda can expands and explodes in the freezer.

Achieving High Quality Bids

Now that you understand the types of materials used in asphalt maintenance, you can create a bid request. Firstly, perform a pre-bid site walk in order to get the most competitive cost. A site walk helps all bidding contractors identify the exact deliverables to include in the Request for Proposal (RFP). As a result, everyone will be on the same page bidding apples to apples. After the pre-bid site walk, provide contractors with bid sheets so that all bids are submitted on the same form. These bid sheets should include expected timelines and payment terms. By having the same bid sheet, you maintain control of the bidding process and therefore receive higher quality bids.
Site walks and bid sheets make it possible to compare bids apples-to-apples.

asphalt maintenance sports court

Asphalt Maintenance Contract Terms

Once a contractor is selected to perform the work, the association’s legal counsel should review and provide recommended changes prior to both parties signing the final agreement. This will help avoid the risk of agreeing to terms you did not intend or worse, terms that may negatively impact the association in the long run. After both parties have signed the final contract, the contractor should list the association as additionally insured on the contractor’s insurance and provide copies of their W-9, current license, and current contractor bond in place. Verify that a contractor is bonded and licensed in Washington State. Consequently, this initial due diligence will go a long way if issues arise with that contractor during or after the asphalt maintenance project is complete.

The All-Important Project Schedule

Ultimately, project logistics and management will be key to the association’s success for any asphalt maintenance project. And in our opinion, it starts with the schedule.

Example Asphalt Maintenance Schedule

Three Weeks Out — Send both email and standard mail notices to all association owners. Include parking options, access, and vehicle movement requirements.
Two Weeks Prior to Start Date — Send a follow-up email and post notices of asphalt and concrete work and schedule at all mailboxes, cabanas, courts, gym areas, etc.
One Week Prior to Start Date — Send a second follow-up email to all owners reminding them of the asphalt maintenance project.
Two Days Prior to Start — Place flyers in all doors reminding all residents of the time that all cars need to be removed from the lot to ensure that the asphalt maintenance work can be done.
Night Before — Place cones to block off all work areas, staging areas, and otherwise prepare for the work to begin.

Asphalt Maintenance Work Starts

First Morning — Make sure all cars are clear from the lot; knock on doors if any cars remain. If necessary, be ready to have any cars left in the lot to be towed so delays can be avoided. Do a final check and start work.
Day One — Remove and replace all damaged asphalt. All patch work is typically done this first day.
Day Two —
  • Sweep the parking lot of all debris and pressure wash where necessary.
  • Crack seal the parking lot.
  • Seal coat one half of the parking lot. To ensure community members don’t walk or drive through the wet seal coat, make sure that the lot is completely coned and taped off. Post notices of asphalt maintenance around the taped perimeter.

Day Three — Seal coat the other half of the parking lot. Like before, make sure to cone and tape off the lot to prevent unwanted traction through the wet seal coat.
Day Four — Stripe the parking lot. Perform final clean up and walk the site with the community association manager.
A typical job lasts one to five days, depending on the project size. If the association wants the work to start four weeks out, send homeowners multiple notices about the project so no one can claim surprise. Here is a sample schedule, with backup dates for unexpected weather or other delays.
Successful logistics and project management starts with the schedule.

Prepare Backup Plans

This is a basic schedule. It is important to have a detailed schedule, backup schedule for weather delays, a tow truck on site, and the pre-project notifications described above so your asphalt initiative goes as planned. With the proper pre planning and organization, the association can avoid most of the issues that plague parking lot asphalt projects.
asphalt maintenance street surface

Get Asphalt Maintenance Right the First Time

Lastly, ensure that your team understands the process and works with a reliable asphalt contractor. Take the time to do things right and prepare the association and your community for the very best outcome. Be prepared and do it right the first time! article endmark

Dave has been in the construction industry for over 20 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the forefront of the business. His experience is not just in construction. Dave owned and operated one of the largest privately held condominium management companies in the NW until 2016. He has a background in insurance, facility management, land development, and real estate. He is a published author and philanthropist. Dave leads the Transblue franchise company as Chief Executive Officer.

David Wescott

CEO, Transblue

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