Condo Owners-Check your hot water heaters

March 30, 2013

Do your part to prevent mayhem.

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Paving Part 1

March 26, 2013

For community associations and condominiums that are responsible for maintaining their streets and drainage, it is necessary to properly maintain the roads within your community.  Just like everything else in your community, the streets and parking areas need routine maintenance as well.

The Florida sun is detrimental to nearly everything it comes in contact with and asphalt is no exception.  This is an excerpt on asphalt deterioration from All Asphalt Services:

Deterioration begins immediately. You will see the rich black color turn to gray in no time. The sun dries out the natural oils and resins that are essential for the strength and flexibility of the pavement. Once the asphalt becomes dry, erosion of the top layer leads to cracks on the surface. Water penetrating into the asphalt base will soften and expand it and is the primary cause of deterioration. Cracking will continue and the surface will take on an “alligator appearance.”

To prevent premature deterioration and to prolong the life of your streets and parking areas, paving companies suggest “sealcoating” the asphalt areas:

Asphalt is sand, rock, and oil. The oil is the glue that holds it all together and is highly susceptible to problems with sun, water, and traffic. To keep the asphalt from drying and cracking it needs to be sealcoated. Sealcoat is a sun block for your pavement. New pavement should be allowed about six months to cure before sealing. Applications at approximately every three years will help to stop solar damage to the binder material. Sealcoating is a very cost effective preventative maintenance measure for extending the life of pavement. It resists damage from the sun, petroleum spills, and water penetration.

If you are on a member of the Board of Directors of a condominium or homeowners association that is responsible for paved parking areas or streets, this is a capital improvement project that should be allocated for.  For Florida condominiums this is a reserve line item that is required to be funded along with roofing and painting reserves (Florida Statute 718.112).  If your association has gone longer than 5 years without sealcoating the streets or parking areas, it’s time to consider implementing this routine maintenance item to your budget.  Sealcoating is a relatively painless undertaking without considerable inconvenience. Contact your association manager or a paving contractor today to determine what is appropriate for your community.


Parking in the street

March 20, 2013

For homeowner and community associations, parking in the street is sometimes a significant nuisance.  Depending on how your association was originally set up there may be very little that can be done to combat this nuisance.

Florida has its very own statute regarding the towing of vehicles. The statute can be found here as well as relevant Duval County towing ordinances.  While this blog is not meant to provide legal interpretations, the bottom line is unless you live in a gated community within Duval County, parking on the street is legal and there’s nothing the management company can really do about it.  What’s the deal with gated communities?  Gated communities own their streets and are responsible for the paving and drainage associated with street ownership therefore, their roads-their rules (provided they comply with Florida Statutes).

Parking in the street can cause problems with municipal services such as garbage pickup and mail delivery.  When vehicles are parked in the street, especially if vehicles occupy both sides of the street, it becomes difficult for the large garbage truck to get down the street safely.  Not to mention emergency vehicles having a difficult time negotiating narrow streets with cars parked on both sides.

Unfortunately, today’s homes have smaller driveways than years past.  You can do your part though by using your garage to park cars in.  Even one car in the garage can make your area more appealing. In addition, by using the garage for parking a car instead of storage allows more vehicles to be parked in the driveway.  As families grow and you add additional cars to your home, parking can become quite an issue. Another possibility, if allowed by your architectural review committee, is adding an additional concrete pad to the side of an existing driveway to allow for an additional car.  In short, there are a number of ways you can do your part to keep cars from parking in front of your home.

Keeping your vehicles off the street and parked in your driveway makes your home look tidy and lends to a better overall appearance to your neighborhood.  Make it a point to do your part by placing your vehicles in your driveway.


Water Restrictions-is your community compliant?

March 13, 2013

Were you aware that water usage in Northeast Florida has a governing body that is not your municipality?  Water usage in all areas of Florida is governed by local water management districts.  For Northeast Florida, the St. Johns River Water Management District is the governing body that monitors and dictates water usage.

The most limiting factor of building, developing and living in Florida is the clean water supply.  As more and more people move in to the state, access to clean water becomes more of a priority.  As a result, the water management districts in Florida have placed restrictions on the amount of water that can be used for residential lawn watering.

Within the St. Johns Water Management District, watering can be done twice per week depending on the last digit of your address.  During daylight savings time from March until November, odd numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Saturdays, even numbered addresses on Thursdays and Sundays, nonresidential properties on Tuesdays and Fridays.

And the great wailing begins….

“Based on scientific analysis from the University of Florida IFAS program, healthy Florida lawns require no more than two days per week of water during the hot, dry season — less during rainy periods — and no more than one day a week during cooler weather. Additional irrigation is unnecessary and wasteful.”

There are times when additional watering is permissible so check the St. Johns Water Management District website for additional details.

The bottom line is well established lawns can survive with twice per week watering during the growing season and once per week in the winter. Watering any more than that wastes Florida’s most valuable resource.  These watering restrictions also include water drawn from wells for the sole purpose of irrigation.  For those that abuse these watering restrictions, there are fines and penalties that can be levied by the water management district.

Board members should check with their landscape maintenance provider to determine if their irrigation schedule is compliant with the water management districts guidelines.


Concrete Spalling

March 6, 2013

Concrete spalling sounds like a complicated term but if you live in an ocean front or near the ocean condominium, it’s a word you need to be familiar with.  The definition of spalling is flakes of material that are broken off a larger solid body.  How does that correlate to your ocean front condominium?  When pieces of the concrete supports holding up your building start falling away, this is called spalling.

Another cause and effect incident regarding spalling is the deterioration of the rebar (steel) supports that serve as reinforcement in concrete structures.  Imagine the rebar at the initial construction is the size of your thumb, because of the salt penetrating the concrete that encases the rebar it will begin to rust and slough off.  When you begin to see signs of spalling on the exterior, that rebar that was once the size of your thumb is now the size of your pinky.  For buildings using post-tension slab construction, these rebar supports rupture and have been know to blow holes out of the edge of the balcony.

The signs of spalling start as cracks and heaves/displacements of concrete surfaces.  This can be on horizontal or vertical surfaces.  Early signs of steel support spalling is the rust colored staining that occurs on a concrete surface.  While your association manager can identify signs of spalling in common areas, they cannot always see the spalling that could possibly be occurring on your balcony.  If you see any of these signs, contact your association manager to check it out and document it.  For managers, if you begin to see evidence of spalling contact a trusted building engineering or construction management firm for an evaluation and repair.

 balcony spallingspalling graphic

vertical spalling