Atlanta Condominium Associations and Fire Prevention – What You Should Know

It seems pretty fundamental – but many high rise condominium residents do not own or know how to operate a fire extinguisher.  Beacon Management Services strongly encourages residents to keep at least one, and preferably several, fire extinguishers in your home. Fire extinguishers reduce the potential for damage which keeps our insurance premiums—and your assessments—down. Several types are available, and each has a specific use.

How Many?

Common household fire extinguishers are only intended to snuff out small fires before they become serious. Keep as many as necessary to grab quickly before a fire gets out of control. For starters, you should probably have one in the kitchen, at least one on each floor, one in the garage, and one near valuable electronic equipment.

What Type?

The kind of fire extinguisher you should use depends on what’s burning. Different types of extinguishers are available for different types of fires, and each is prominently labeled with an alpha designation:

Class A fires: paper, wood, cardboard. If household items like cardboard, fabric, or wood (a sofa, for example) are on fire, water will do the best job of putting it out. This is a class A fire, and extinguishers containing water are labeled with an “A.” Water is useful only on class A fires, and actually can be dangerous on other types of fires: water spreads grease fires and conducts electricity in an electrical fire.

Newer A-type extinguishers are available that spray a fine mist of water, which is safer (less likely to conduct electricity) and causes less damage to documents or books. Water mist extinguishers are appropriate for a home office or home library.

Class B fires: gasoline, kerosene, grease, oil, and other combustible liquids. This type of fire is common in the garage or kitchen, and you should use an extinguisher labeled B or BC. Most contain dry chemicals similar to bicarbonate of soda (a great all-purpose kitchen fire extinguisher) in a pressurized foam base. Others contain Halon (older models) or Halotron.

Class C fires: electrical equipment. Bicarbonate type (BC) extinguishers are also useful for electrical fires. But don’t confuse electrical with electronic fires—you probably don’t want chemical foam on your computer or entertainment components. Carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are also labeled BC, and these are probably better for extinguishing fires on or near electronic or other delicate equipment.

Halon is great for electronic fires, but if you’re concerned about the ozone layer, you might prefer the more environmentally friendly Halotron. Keep the Halotron extinguisher near the computer or your entertainment electronics—it won’t cause any damage if it’s used on any of these—or in the kitchen to use on grease or electrical fires.

What Does the Number Mean?

Along with the alpha designations listed above, fire extinguishers also have a number. This indicates how much fire the extinguisher can handle—–higher numbers put out bigger fires. However, bigger isn’t always better. Large extinguishers are more difficult to handle and can only be used by one person at a time. If you feel you need added coverage, stock several smaller extinguishers rather than just one large one.

The All-Purpose Problem

Fire extinguishers labeled ABC will handle all classes of fire, and they would seem to eliminate the question, “What type do I need?” But the all-purpose extinguisher has some disadvantages. They’re usually large and hard to handle, they contain chemicals that can corrode aluminum and damage electrical systems, and they leave a messy yellow residue.

For more information, please contact Beacon Management Services at (404) 907-2112.

Atlanta Condo and HOA Boards and The Role of Committees

  • Committees are continuously the working force at the heart of any effective Association. Effective Associations are often directly effected by studious committees.   Why are Committees Utilized? Association committees are used to save time during the general meetings and Board meetings. Present issues can be discussed in detail by a committee and recommendations may be presented to the Board. The work of the Association will become more efficient with this implementation. The skills and interests of committee members are used to the full advantage. This allows more of the membership to get involved in the detailed work of the Association. Responsibilities are assigned according to the skills and interests of the committee members. New committee members can gain insight into the Association and develop their awareness by serving on committees. Type of Committees:   There are two basic types of committees: Standing – committees are created by the Governing Documents, Rules and Regulations or Bylaws of an organization. They function on an annual and/or permanent basis. Examples of common standing committees would be finance, nomination, education, etc.
  • Ad Hoc committees are appointed for a specific goal on a short-term basis. An example is organizing a specialized social event. Purpose of Committees Many Associations have too many committees, often with responsibilities that are unclear. You should be able to answer the following before any new committee is established:
  • what’s the goal and authority of this new committee?
  • what are the responsibilities and required tasks of this committee?
  • what are the time parameters on this committee’s goal?
  • what type of reporting to the Board is expected?
  • how are members selected for this committee?
  • What is the budget of this committee?
  • what’s the duration in office for members? How do we fill unexpected vacancies?
  • what resources are available for this committee and what will they need to complete the assigned task? Committee Member Selection Selecting committee members is the best way to ensure that you get people with the needed skills, interests and a commitment to the task at hand. Three to six people is a favorable size for most committees. The committee Chairperson should be selected with careful consideration. The Chair isn’t necessarily the expert of the committee. It’s more important that this person works well with others, can organize effectively, can motivate others, keeps people on task and has good communication skills. Other responsibilities of the Chair include preparing and presenting the committee’s reports, ensuring a proper successor is taught to assume the Chair’s role in the future, setting agendas, calling the committee meetings and ensuring that all members have the ample opportunity to contribute. Committee Reporting Committees are directly responsible to the Association that created them. The committee Chair usually reports to the Board of Directors. Reports should be concise, and should show that a full discussion was held and all available options were considered. The Association should never feel that the chosen committee missed something. The committee should present recommendations. Reports that are for information only do not require a motion. If a committee wants to bring forth new ideas, actions or suggestions to the members in their report, the committee Chair should say, “By direction of the appointed committee, I move to. . . ” Making Committees Work Effectively Committees work effectively when the following questions can be answered with a “yes” response:
  • Is the purpose of the new committee clear to all members?
  • Does this committee recognize it’s time restraints; both in the overall project and at meetings?
  • Is there good communication among the members?
  • Are all members and the Chair well prepared?
  • Are the minutes clear and concise?
  • Does the committee evaluate its’ own performance?
  • Are committee members recognized and appreciated?
  • Is the work of the appointed committee recognized as making a valuable contribution to the Association?
  • Summary A committee is really an integral unit of the organization. It’s the best way to take tasks and distribute them into meaningful and manageable sections. Effective committees alleviate time consuming detail from organizational meetings. They allow more of the Association’s membership to be involved in the development of the Community. Committees build commitment of members to the Homeowners or Condominium Association.

In the Wake of the Brian Williams Scandal, Should You Ever Lie to A Customer?

Brian WilliamsThe lightening pace at which NBC anchor Brian Williams lost credibility with the public is a important reminder to business owners, managers, and those in a leadership position that even a tiny fib can breach trust or confidence.  Management professionals should avoid telling clients even so-called white lies, because trust is nearly impossible to regain once broken.

“Trust is a priceless commodity with which we work,” said Lisa Simmons, President of Beacon Management Services, an Atlanta based community association management company that serves condominiums, homeowner associations, mixed use and commercial properties.

Management companies should steer clear of telling even an innocuous lie, such as, “Sorry, I’m busy with a client right now,” when they are actually enjoying their morning coffee and crossword puzzle, said Ms. Simmons.

“Little white lies don’t accomplish anything.   When people start exaggerating and padding,it destroys that credibility, presenting a face to the world that isn’t true.  Once someone knows that a person is deceitful, they will assume he or she has been deceitful multiple times that they don’t know about.  There will always be that doubt.  Better to be honest and forthright.  It always pays off in the end.”

Lisa Simmons can be reached at Beacon Management Services, (404) 908-2112 or lsimmons@beaconmanagementservices.com.

http://www.beaconmanagementservices.com

Beacon Management Enjoyed An Evening with Friends and Peers at the 2015 CAI Gala!

The Beacon team enjoyed a night with friends and peers at the 2015 CAI Gala!

The Beacon team enjoyed a night with friends and peers at the 2015 CAI Gala!

Beacon Management at the CAI Gala Celebrating Excellence in Association Management

Beacon Management Services Works on Creating the Future

Expert Tips for Your HOA or Condo Association

Beacon Management Vision Board Seminar

Several Beacon Management employees enjoyed an evening of networking and goal setting at The Buckhead Club in Atlanta.  Part of the evening activities including creating Vision Boards, which enable the creator to stay focused on goals through images and graphics.

“I enjoy self improvement endeavors,” said Lisa Simmons, president of Beacon Management Services.  “Creating a roadmap of success helps a person reach their destination faster.”

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Five Tips for Successful Community Projects in Your Homeowners or Condominium Association

 

Negotiating contracts with vendors is rarely an easy process.

Because many people are involved — some who aren’t familiar with your community — misunderstandings are extremely common. But there are some simple steps you can take to ensure negotiations on your next Atlanta HOA or Condo Association community project runs smoothly.

  1. Create a subcommittee. By forming a subcommittee, you ensure there’s a clear understanding of each piece in the proposed project. This single step will save you time because it helps avoid confusion when you begin the bidding process.
  2. Consult a specialist in advance. If you’re not clear on how a specification should be drafted for your project, bring in an expert who can give you precise guidelines. Of course, once the project is complete, you’ll want that same specialist to come back and confirm the work is performed to your specification — before you make a final payment. (For example, you want to be certain the drainage patterns are correct and the substructure is intact on an asphalt replacement project.)
  3. Keep detailed notes of all contract negotiations. To avoid any possible conflicts, the specifications should be attached to the final contract.
  4. Appoint one person to work with your Atlanta Property Manager. Typically, when you hire professional management, you allow the community manager to draft the specifications and get the bids.  If you designate one board member to work with your Atlanta Property Manager during the bid solicitation process, you can then bring the entire bid package (with recommendations) back to the board.
  5. Work with people you like. You’ll often enjoy the process — and avoid disputes — when you get along with the people performing your project.  So bring in bidders for an interview and request references.

Remember, when you receive a contract, you — as a board — have the right to add addendums and counteroffers. Also, always must make certain you’re completely clear about the product or services being offered. That way all parties involved know exactly what is expected.

For more information on how Beacon Management Services can assist your Homeowners Association or Condominium Association in the Atlanta area, please call: (404) 907-2112 or email Lisa Simmons at lsimmons@beaconmanagementservices.com. Our complete list of services is available at: www.beaconmanagementservices.com.

Thank you for your time!

Why Should Your Atlanta Condominium or Homeowners Association Have a Reserve Study?

The purpose of a reserve study is to give the Board Members of the Homeowners Association and the property manager written guidelines for properly maintaining the common elements. The Governing Documents of most Association-governed communities require the Board of Directors to set aside an “appropriate” amount of money on a regular basis to offset the ongoing deterioration of the common areas.

All physical assets deteriorate with time and most of the “major” components which an Association is responsible to maintain will require repair or replacement in a predictable manner. A credible, current Reserve Study makes it possible to prepare well in advance for these inevitable expenses, spreading out the reserve contributions evenly over time, rather than funding reserves through special assessments or loans

An effective reserve study plan must meet the following five key objectives:

  1. To preserve the investment of the owners.

Preventive maintenance can extend the useful life of building components, in turn, maintaining and enhancing the value of the property.

  1. Buildings operating at peak efficiency.

Preventive maintenance ensures that building components are operating as they were designed, which helps to reduce inefficiencies in operations and energy use.

  1. Prevent failures of building systems.

Properly functioning building systems allow occupants to enjoy the property as planned. Preventive maintenance includes periodic inspections and replacement of equipment that are crucial to operations.

  1. Maintain a safe and healthy environment.

Protect the physical integrity of the building; maintain a safe environment for residents.

  1. Provide cost effective

Preventive maintenance can prevent small problems from becoming major failures and costly repairs. Preventive maintenance can be handled relatively inexpensively, efficiently and systematically.

What should be included in a reserve study?   There is a four-part test, now part of National Reserve Study Standards, to determine if a component is appropriate to designate for reserve funding. To be funded, a component must pass all four of the tests.

  1. The component must be a common area maintenance responsibility, as defined in the Association’s governing documents or a well-established Association precedent
  2. The component must have a limited Useful Life (UL)
  3. The component must have a predictable Remaining Useful Life (RUL)
  4. The component’s Replacement Cost ($) must be above a minimum threshold amount

If consistently followed in conjunction with a proper funding model, the components will enjoy their maximum useful life and repair costs will be held to the minimum. This is how the successful homeowners’ associations operate.

For more information on how Beacon Management Services can assist your Homeowners Association or Condominium Association in the Atlanta area, please call: (404) 907-2112 or email Lisa Simmons at lsimmons@beaconmanagementservices.com. Our complete list of services is available at: www.beaconmanagementservices.com.

Thank you for your time!