Saturday, November 28, 2015

Guidelines for the Homeowner Forum

Residents are encouraged to attend and observe association board meetings. If you’d like to bring an issue to the board’s attention, you’re welcome to speak during the homeowner forum—a time set aside just for you. So that everyone who attends has an opportunity for a meaningful exchange with the board, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:
·         Although we’re all neighbors, this is a corporate business meeting. Please behave accordingly.
·         If you’d like to address the board, please sign in when you arrive. You will be called in the order you entered. This allows the board to contact you if we need further information and to report back to you with an answer.
·         The homeowner forum is an exchange of ideas, not a gripe session. If you’re bringing a problem to our attention, we’d like to hear your ideas for a solution too.
·         To keep the meeting businesslike, please refrain from speaking if you’re particularly upset about an issue. Consider speaking later, speaking privately with a board member, or putting your concerns in writing and e-mailing them to the board.
·         Only one person may speak at a time. Please respect others’ opinions by remaining silent and still when someone else has the floor.
·         Each person will be allowed to speak no more than five minutes. Please respect the volunteers’ time by limiting your remarks.
·         If you need more than five minutes, please put your comments in writing. Include background information, causes, circumstances, desired solutions and other considerations you believe are important. The board will make your written summary an agenda item at the next meeting.
We may not be able to resolve your concerns on the spot, and we will not argue or debate an issue with you during the homeowner forum. We usually need to discuss and vote on the issue first. But we will answer you before—or at—the next board meeting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How Much Noise Do You Make?

Noise is an inevitable reality in condominium communities. Condominium dwellers live in such close proximity, it’s essential that we consider the effect noise will have on our neighbors when deciding on floor coverings, where to mount the flat-screen television or when to knock out a wall.
We—you and your neighbors—all have a right to enjoy our homes in peace and to furnish them as we like. But remember, how you furnish your unit may be a nuisance to your neighbors in theirs.
Hard flooring—wood, ceramic, stone—is fashionable and collects far fewer allergens than carpet, making it very popular. But it can be a problem for the folks downstairs, even if you make an effort to tread lightly or wear soft shoes. If you’re considering installing hard flooring in your unit, first install a sound barrier—like cork—to reduce noise. And hope the people above you do the same.
Flat-screen televisions are becoming more affordable every year, and many of our residents have them. Please mount your screen on an interior wall—not a wall you share with a neighbor. Reverberations from wall-mounted televisions can be an annoyance for those on the other side.
How much noise does it take to be a nuisance? One definition says nuisance is a level of disturbance beyond what a reasonable person would find tolerable. But, sometimes the question isn’t how much noise we make, but when we make it. You or your neighbor might find the raucous party next door entirely tolerable—until about 10 or 11 p.m. A noisy renovation downstairs might be intolerable if it’s a religious or ethnic holiday for you. Whatever you’re planning, give some thought to the day as well as the time of day for your activity.
If you have noisy neighbors, talk to them. They probably have no idea they’re disturbing you. Maybe you work nights and their teenager—whose room backs up to yours—blasts the audio system after school each day.
The Golden Rule applies here: Treat your neighbors the way you want them to treat you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are You Building Walls or Bridges?

 By Dr. Lori Baker-Schena

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Isaac Newton

One of the many gifts of growing older is all of the relationships we make as the years pass by – both personally and professionally.  I believe humans are natural “bonders” – we bond with friends, lovers, family members, significant others, our co-workers … and of course our pets. Some of these relationships nourish us, others hurt us – but the bottom line is that relationships make us human.

More often than not, our moods and our energy are directly linked to these relationships. When relationships are running smoothly, when we are being nurtured and are nurturing others, life is joyful. And when relationships go south, which happens on a regular basis, the world suddenly turns very dark.

The importance of building bridges and connecting with others during our lifetimes cannot be emphasized enough – relationships are what move us forward, give us support, light our way … and if we are lucky enough, relationships bring us great joy.

As we move through this journey, we should take the opportunity to reach out to others and continually build new bridges while nourishing our long-time relationships. Building a community of support allows us to amplify our joyful times and strengthen us when the going gets tough.

Building Bridges In Our Personal Lives

Three key rules:
1.     Don’t take each other for granted.
2.     Be PRESENT when you are with each other.
3.     Let respect and trust be the foundation of your relationship.

Building Bridges In Our Professional Lives

Three key rules:
1.     Be kind and generous with your time, compliments and experience.
2.     Always take the high road – no matter what the challenges.
3.     Base your relationship on mutual respect and mutual trust.

Relationships are tricky and challenging. They can bring us the highest highs, and sink us down to the depths of misery. Yet I believe that the potential for joy outweighs the risk of disappointment in any relationship – which is why we must continue to build bridges to others, even when our natural inclination may be to build a wall.

Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Have you checked out the HOA’s bylaws lately?

Have you checked out the HOA’s bylaws lately? If not, now’s a great time to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of the community.

For those of you who were unaware, bylaws play a crucial role in keeping the association running smoothly. Bylaws are legally binding rules and regulations that each homeowner agrees to when he or she purchases a unit within the association. If owners rent out their homes, it’s the owner’s responsibility to inform the new residents of the bylaws as well. Bylaws include stipulations on assessments, building design and additions, and the governance of the association. All residents need to understand these bylaws so they don’t unintentionally violate them; owners can be fined by the association and—in extreme cases—sued for violating bylaws. Owners are empowered when they understand the bylaws and the procedures for changing or amending them when they are no longer applicable or relevant to the community.
While they may seem arbitrary, the bylaws are legally enforceable. They also help ensure the association as a whole can thrive and that members are treated fairly and equally. So don’t be left in the dark—check out the association’s bylaws today!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Buyer Beware: Home Inspections

A home is typically the most expensive purchase a person will ever make. Because of this, as much as you may like that property you recently found, it’s critical to get it inspected before finalizing the deal. An inspection gives you an idea of the home’s physical condition, including the heating system, central air system, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and structural components.

A home inspection addresses what needs to be repaired now and what might need to be repaired in the future. If you have a property inspected before signing a contract, you might be able to negotiate a lower price that reflects the inspection’s findings. Simply because a house needs repairs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. The buyer must decide how much to spend and how much work he or she is willing to do after the purchase.
Home inspections don’t cover everything, though. Inspectors aren’t required to identify conditions that are hidden or could be considered latent defects. They don’t have to move personal property, plants, snow or debris to inspect an item, and they aren’t liable if they miss something. Inspectors also don’t have to evaluate systems that aren’t easily accessible, and they don’t have to note whether termites, mold, hazardous plants or animals are present.

It’s not possible to know everything about a house before buying it, but an inspection should give you a good idea about its condition. While the cost of a home inspection is typically based on the size, complexity and number of systems in the property, an inspection can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Some inspection fees are based on a percentage of the asking price. When calculating the time for lab results, inspections should take only about three weeks to finalize. But that money and time could mean fewer negotiations and surprises, a lower sales price, a decrease in the likelihood of litigation for improper disclosure and an increased chance of closing the deal.