Other than attorneys, contractors do not have a very good reputation for customer service. This reputation is mostly caused by the public's buying habits. Price is the easiest factor to compare, and too often this is where the decision is made. When hiring a con- tractor to work on your association or your home, there are several areas that are consistently forgotten. Click Here to View More »
Newsweek magazine this last September out- lined a phenomenon they entitled “The Culture of Low-balling.” In that article the argument was made that due to a depressed economy, a sharp rise in unemployment, and a housing bub- ble that had burst causing foreclosures to take place at unprecedented levels; a new mind-set was taking hold with Americans, the mind-set of “Low-balling”. Click Here to View More »
In September I wrote about the wisdom of using legal counsel for extra protection prior to enter- ing into large contracts. This month I wish to offer what I consider the top ten provisions that should be addressed in those agreements. Click Here to View More »
I cannot tell you how many times the following scenario has played out over the years. My phone rings and a frantic board member starts to tell me a story that starts out “We were referred to a company that (pick one): my brother-in-law swears by; or another association used; or my irrigation guy, who I have used for ten years, recommended; or that advertised in our local paper; had a special one-time discount; or that happened to be working in our neighborhood and therefore could do the project for less.” Click Here to View More »
Why should you care about EAB? All ash trees are susceptible to EAB and millions of ash trees have been killed in infested areas already. It’s estimated that townhome associa- tions could have ash trees comprising as much as 40% of their trees. Minnesota has one of the highest volumes of ash on forestland in the U.S. with an estimated 867 million forestland ash trees and ash is a prominent component of our urban forests as well. Click Here to View More »

Spring Training April 2010

There's nothing like the baseball season opener and especially this year with our very Minnesota Twins outside and in their new ball park. For most of us, we look upon a game that is to look easy, not only because of the athleticism of the players, but because of the hard and grueling practices that take place before the season starts. Click Here to View More »
The EPA has come out with new regulations for lead based paint that take effect in April of 2010. The regulations apply to anyone who hires or is paid to renovate, repair or disturb lead based paint in a home or child occupied facility. This speci cally includes property managers, paint- ers, electricians, drywallers, and plumbers. Ho- meowners working on their own homes are not included. The regulations require that all renova- tions that involve lead need to be performed by a Certi ed Firm using Certi ed Renovators or employees who are trained and supervised by the Certi ed Renovator. Click Here to View More »
Recently, someone asked me an interesting question that I initially didn’t know the answer to. I was asked, “If I use a contractor who is not licensed, what recourse would I have if I had any problems with their work?” This led me to search further. Click Here to View More »

Guiding Principles October 2009

I’m a bit of a movie buff. I love a good story. One of my all time favorites is the 1995 “Apollo 13” di- rected by Ron Howard. Who can forget the tense build up of that historic ight in 1970 when things continued to go from bad to worse and it looked like the crew of Apollo 13 was not going to make it back home. At one point during the movie the Director of NASA said to ight direc- tor Gene Kranz “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever faced.” And with complete resolve Gene Kranz said in response “...With all due re- spect sir, I believe this will be our nest hour!” Click Here to View More »

HOA 101 June 2009

What is this thing called a homeowners asso- ciation? In Minnesota a few associations began to be built in the 1960s and 1970s but the real growth didn’t seem to take place until the 1980s. Since then of course the number of homes in associations has exploded. Some of you may be new to living in a homeowners association. Here’s an overview of why Associations exist and how they function. Click Here to View More »
In my first article on insurance coverage for owners of homes in attached-unit associations I focused on two of the main components to look for in your HO-6 policy: coverage of bet- terments and improvements made to your home, and coverage for the gap left by the Association’s master policy deductible (typically between $5,000 to $10,000.) In this issue I’ll look at another important item: sufficient coverage for replacement of your personal property. I spoke with over a half a dozen insurance agents in preparation for this month’s article, and they all said the same thing: “Help the homeowner to understand that most folks do not have a realis-tic view of what the cost is to replace all of their personal property should it be lost in a disaster!” Click Here to View More »
This question is invariably raised by most folks at one time or another after purchasing in a hom- eowner’s association. It’s asked in a moment of confusion when one realizes that their monthly assessment already includes a portion going to- wards an insurance policy maintained by the asso- ciation. If that is the case, then why is additional insurance necessary? Click Here to View More »