Managing Success Stories


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Article published in the winter 2012 issues of the CM magazine

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Managing Success Stories

  1. 1. COVER STORYMANAGING Success StoriesTO COINCIDE with ACMO’s newly launchedpublic awareness campaign, we asked for successstories from ACMO 2000 companies. The fol-lowing stories represent a cross-section of the sig-nificant projects and huge undertakings that RCMsand management companies take on as everydayresponsibilities. With a broad skill set that includes successfulcompletion of ACMO’s courses in finance, ad-ministration, human resources, law, and physicalbuilding management for RCMs, and a rigourouscompliance audit for ACMO 2000 companies,directors and owners can expect managers to bereliable advisors in these and myriad other areas. As you can see from these tales, managers andmanagement companies are a very caring group.Let’s make 2013 – The Year of the RCM. Photo: Katrin Ray■   1 0   ■ C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2 
  2. 2. t A Balcony View to an End Result Wilson-Blanchard started man-agement of Halton Condominium Corporation No. 70 in 2008. When we first took over as managers, the corporation had four active legal situations Balcony and balustrade repair – Owners have seen a dramatic increaseand deteriorating front entrance bal- above the regular market increase in recent sale prices of units.conies that had been patched andignored for years. tion had a negative impact on curb proximately $600,000 for restoration HCC No. 70 is a 50-unit town- appeal. but not until 2016. With the ten-house complex on Lake Ontario With the help of the manager, the dering project complete, the boardwaterfront in the Bronte area of board reviewed proposals and then awarded the 3-year phased restora-Oakville. It is a wonderful location engaged Edison Engineers Inc. to tion project to Bowie Contractingin a beautiful area with rising real complete a conditions survey. The from Gormley, Ontario. The boardestate values. results were staggering, although not approved a special assessment of We quickly assisted in getting le- overly surprising. Although several $16,000 per unit payable over thegal advice and resolving the legal repair options were considered, the three years of work.issues while also creating new op- best long-term option was to com- The board and manager met witherating and standard unit bylaws, pletely restore the concrete balconies the contractor and engineer regular-which had not been changed since and replace the brick balustrades. ly throughout the three-year projectregistration in 1977. However, the Under the engineer’s direction, a to maintain schedules, budgets andelephant in the room over the past trial project was completed at four to deal with any unplanned circum-12–15 years was the major balcony units, which helped to confirm the stances. With excellent work com-repairs that were required. Not only scope of work and finishes for plan- pleted by Bowie under the diligentwere the balconies a structural con- ning the rest of the project. management of Edison Engineers,cern, their condition was also creat- The budget for complete restora- the third and final phase of the proj-ing leaks and maintenance issues tion was approximately $1 million. ect was completed in August 2012,within the units. Being the front The corporation’s previous reserve on time and slightly under budget.entrances of the units, the condi- fund study had set a budget of ap- While all owners had to endure Heavy Duty Cleaning is our specialty! Your Condominium & Commercial Cleaning Specialist Call 905-850-8009 • Janitorial & Office Cleaning • Power Washing Parkades or 877-776-2423 for more information • Construction Cleaning • Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning E. • Parking Garages – High Dusting W. C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2    ■   1 1   ■
  3. 3. three full summers of living in a construction zone and deal with the financial impact of a large special as- sessment, since the completion of the project there have been many positive EST. 1972 comments from owners, visitors and real estate professionals alike. Own- CANADA HYDRANT SERVICE INC. ers have seen a dramatic increase above the regular market increase in recent sale prices of units compared Bill Clouston to before the project started. 117 CORSTATE AVE. # 2, Concord, Ont. L4K 4Y2 No matter how large the prob- lems may appear, managers can help Bus: (905) 669-2950 Fax: (905) 738-6818 board’s make good decisions by tak- ing professional advice and a will- ingness to press on to achieve an end result. ■ Make the dream Brad Wells, RCM, Wilson-Blanchard of condo living Management Inc. come true. t A Small But Significant Success On being assigned to a 35-year-old residential highrise condominium last year, one of the first problems I was advised of was that the two elevators were constantly run- ning together – If anyone Get Pro-House to look after the reality. called the el- evator from any floor in the building, both cars arrived together. This problem had been reported to the elevator contractor many times, and had not been resolved. The board decided to ask the contractor to attend a meeting with them to review this Finance, regulations, maintenance and the unexpected... and other issues. At the meeting, we we care about the details so you can live worry-free were told that our elevators needed while the value of your real estate increases. to be modernized and also that the contractor did not have technicians Caring for buildings continuously for over 30 years. on staff who were really trained Our record is proven. or knowledgeable on older eleva- tors (which are basically mechanical BRIAN MANN - Vice President and don’t run on computer chips!). 416.783.7676 x226 However, we were assured that ev- bmann@pro - ery effort would be made to bring pro - in the one or two people who knew PRO HOUSE older elevators, and the problem would be solved. The problem con- Managing condominiums with care tinued and complaints were coming in. This is why we have property■   1 2   ■ C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2 
  4. 4. managers (!) because I knew whocould fix this problem in a jiffy, anelevator contractor who resolvedmany problems for me over the yearsin older buildings – I called him in,and within 2 hours got a call backthat the problem was fixed. It hasnever arisen again and apparentlywas a simple adjustment. It is a shame that most elevatorcontractors today insist on expensivemodernizations of equipment, whichmany buildings are not prepared todo owing to the cost, and that theyare not willing to work with what wehave. Many boards in older build-ings feel that they are being more or Building envelope – Original single pane slider window system and datedless pushed into spending big money red brick replaced with energy efficient windows and enhanced order to accommodate the con- uisition meeting caused by the levy are promoted as vertical villagestractor. ■ of a special assessment, a genuine with a variety of amenities, smaller commitment to restore one’s home, suite sizes and exorbitant mainte-Lena Valdes, RCM, Wilson-Blanchard perseverance from the board of di- nance fees often attract more buyersManagement Inc. rectors along with the efforts of a ca- while the older, modest condos with pable project management team, has much larger suite sizes and cheaper successfully turned the tides around maintenance fees fail to get the buy- for this corporation. ers’ attention. ■ The original single pane (curtaint Dilemma of a New wall like) slider window system with Venu Kalidoss, RCM, DEL Property Manager in an Old a dated red brick façade is now re- Management Inc. Building placed with new energy efficient, The key to profitability of any argon filled, awning windows andproperty is a well maintained and an enhanced two-tone exterior insu-managed building. As a condomin- lating finishing system (EIFS). Theseium manager for a 37-year-old resi- improvements in addition to the bal- dential highrise cony restoration have significantly t Condominium for over two improved the overall appearance of Landscaping: Making an years, I have the building. A water saturated front Asset out of a Liability experienced elevation is now an energy efficient Or How to Turn a Sow’s a sequence of façade, which is both functional and Ear into a Silk Purse! events that aesthetically pleasing. Significant Our large four-tower complex is have made me reductions are being recorded in typical of many downtown condo- a proponent of consumption of utilities while the miniums: we are bounded by roads, this industry. prices of the suites are appreciating there are few parks nearby and ourMy architectural background along with improved marketability. own landscap-with the practical knowledge gained In the past 10 years, numerous ing opportuni-from attending ACMO courses has projects including boiler and chiller ties are veryenabled me to become an integral retrofits, mould abatement, corridors limited.part of a project management team and common area renovations led Suffice tocomprised of engineers, building en- to the depletion of the reserve fund. say, there is lit-velope consultants, contractors and Therefore, it is critical to understand tle greenery inspecialty trades who have helped and incorporate the recommenda- our lives or, astransform this mundane 70s style tions underlined in the reserve fund one Director put it: we’re sufferingbuilding into a modern enclave with study, especially in an older building from a nature deficit disorder!refined look. dealing with multiple priorities. We later discovered that our This transformation involving My mentor, also my district man- problems could be traced back toa series of projects when initially ager, always quotes “a known devil two very basic deficiencies: the soilproposed created quite a stir in the is better than the unknown.” Which in our beds was poor and the choicecommunity. However, after several brings me to a dilemma: why do of plants was not appropriate for themeetings of the owners and a req- abundant new condominiums that location. C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2    ■   1 3   ■
  5. 5. costs and curb appeal! We achieved attractiveness by selecting a mix of plant materials that offer interesting features year ‘round. Maintenance costs were addressed by limiting the use of annuals to entry way contain- ers plantings, selecting perennials, trees and shrubs that can cope with our conditions and planting them all in a proper growing medium. As for curb appeal, our newlyRoof Garden Before and After. planted beds along Yonge Street are a head-turning improvement. Our Our solution: a long range land- themes that serve to unify the prop- new plan of adding spring bulbs inscape rejuvenation plan prepared erty and give us a much stronger fall each year has started this yearby a downtown-based landscape visual identity. and we expect a spring bloom andcompany that specializes in condo- The plan was also long term. The showy display in the years to come.minium properties. designers identified our priorities The result is an affordable land- The plan addressed every aspect and phased them in over three years. scape that residents can be proudof our landscape from containers at This not only met our budgetary of. And while we would all lovethe main entrances to planting beds requirements, it gave us an opportu- even more green space, at least theat grade and above ground. This nity to make changes based on plant green we do have is a pleasure tocomprehensive approach allowed us performance over several growing behold. ■to develop a set of common design seasons. Perhaps the greatest benefit of Grace Wang, RCM, Del Property the long term planning approach, Management Inc., Pinnacle Centre. and one we had not anticipated, was the opportunity for resident involvement. Urban Garden spent time canvassing the preferences of both board members and residents. It presented its concepts at open t From Operations to meetings and invited input. While Reserve Fund this may have taken longer than the One of the most important areas typical non-consultative approach, in property management is working the result was a plan that most had a hand-in-hand with the board of di- say in and could buy into. rectors to manage common element The plan focused on three objec- fee increases. An inflationary increaseDecorative Planters – the only tives: attractiveness in all seasons, is acceptable to most owners as it isannuals on the property. manageable ongoing maintenance expected, however larger increases CATCH BASINS, AREA DRAINS, SUMP PIT CLEANING Sanico Pumping & Flushing Inc. “Specializing” in Catch Basin Cleaning • Cleaning Area Drains • High-Pressure Washing • Sewer Pumping & Flushing 24-hour Emergency Service • Pit Pumping & Flushing 365 days/year Photo ID Service Technicians • Video Drain Inspection Experience Bonded Staff MOE Approved Hauler, #A-841669 1-866-575-2355 • 905-731-2066■   1 4   ■ C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2 
  6. 6. can result in political problems and/or frustrated owners. Controlling these increases is not an easy task with ever increasing util- ity costs and reserve fund contributions, the two com-ponents of any condominium bud-get that ultimately drive increases incommon element fees. Initiating measures to maximizeoperating efficiencies and minimizeenergy consumption can go a longway for the financial health of thecorporation. For example someforecasts predict water and sewagerates to increase more than doubleover the next decade. Similar pro- Energy savings – Management and board completed various ‘green’jections have been made for hydro. projects saving close to $100k in utility costs over two years.What can we do? As we tell our di-rectors – doing nothing is no longer these funds from the operating side If you can answer NO to any of them,an option. There are many prod- of the budget to the reserve the cor- then changes need to be made to theucts and companies that can help to poration was successful in offsetting corporation’s financial processes toreduce consumption and therefore future reserve fund demands provid- be in compliance with the Condo-costs of these utilities with the pay- ing an immediate benefit with future minium Act, 1998 and GAAP.back in some cases being less than a dividends. ■ MRCM was called by a consultantyear and most typically being 2 to 5 to quote on the management servicesyears. Some solutions are better than Craig McMillan, RCM District of such a corporation – a corporationothers and managers should advise Manager, Maple Ridge Community that had a qualified audit and a des-exploring the options and finding Management perate financial statement, which wasthe best ones that fit your particular only the beginning. MRCM took tocondominium. the challenge to help chart the course In keeping with MRCM’s corpo- to recovery once we were certain therate desire to be supportive of our board desired resolution and weregreen responsibilities, at YCC 242 committed to seeing it through. It has– 4001 Don Mills Road, we worked t Charting a Corporation’s been a long journey and not always awith the board of directors to com- Financial Process unanimous one, but one that MRCMplete a number of projects. We re- Is your corporation on target fi- and the board of directors are ex-placed our old atmosphere boiler nancially? Do you have sufficient tremely proud of.with a high efficiency boiler. The monies in the corporation’s operating During this recovery processfollowing year we completed a wa- account to cover the day-to-day op- MRCM worked with the board toter conservation project, a light- erations? Does develop a solid plan that includeding retrofit project and installed CO y o u r c o r p o - a monetary recovery as part of themonitors to reduce the ventilation ration have a annual budget. Expenditures werefan running costs. We are currently balance in the monitored, but not at the expense ofinstalling LED bulbs in the build- reserve fund ac- operational maintenance or majoring to reduce hydro usages even count? Are you repair and replacements. We alsofurther. These efforts saved the con- using reserve worked together with the corpora-dominium approximately $100,000 fund monies for tion’s sister shared facilities to en-in utility costs per year over the last operating expenses (not yet transferred sure each was paying and billing for2 years. The board then elected to to reserve)? Do you have one month’s all required charges. transfer these energy savings directly common element fees as a surplus in After 27 months, the operatinginto the reserve fund account to off- the operating account? Most of all, is account is no longer in a deficit posi-set any future increases in the reserve the corporation’s auditor able to pro- tion. The reserve fund account is infund contributions and therefore vide your condominium corporation receipt of all its required transferscontrolling future increases in the with a clean audit?  If the answer to all from the operating account. Thecommon element fees. By liberating of these questions is YES, that is great!  cash flow is adequate in both ac- C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2    ■   1 5   ■
  7. 7. counts to continue to pay for ex- a GOOD working board of directors prominent condominium law firmpenses as they occur and we are who are fiscally responsible making informing us that they had put ourworking together to undertake res- prudent but decent decisions. ■ name forward to a new condomini-toration projects for this location um board that were looking to makedue to its age. Carrie Cowton, RCM , Property a change in management. We had a It was unfortunate that this finan- Manager, Maple Ridge Community great working relationship with thecial strife happened but this scenario Management law firm!may sound all too familiar.  Fortu- After interviewing with the board,nately, the board was open to direc- we were awarded the managementtion and the corporation has a great contract for their 180-unit town-auditor who worked with manage- home project and the developer’sment and the board to develop a in-house company was immediatelyrepayment strategy over a couple of t Success In Building relieved of their responsibilities.years rather than special assessing Relationships What we were left with was theeach homeowner for the financial For those who recently attended security staff walking off the site (asshortfall. the 16th Annual ACMO/CCI-T con- they had a relationship with the pre- We know the journey is not over ference you will recall the theme vious management company) andand we are now focusing on building for the weekend was “building re- a Performance Audit that had nota surplus in the operating account lationships.” yet been undertaken! No problem,for those rainy day funds. We are It need not be except the first-year anniversary wasalso working collectively with the just a theme just six weeks away and the boardengineers to plan the future expen- for a confer- hadn’t even interviewed any engi-ditures for repair and replacement ence but a neering firms!of the building’s major components. very important We quickly hired a new security No success story happens with- component of company who we had been build-out a good team: the management everyday life ing relationships with over the pastcompany including the property for all condominium managers. year or so and who were looking tomanager and property accountant, Several years ago our company “break into” the residential condo-auditor, engineer(s) and most of all received a telephone call from a minium market. (They are still on Building Envelope Specialists • Wall system solutions from repairs • Authors of over 6,000 to innovative re-design using state Prioritized Building Envelope of the art materials. Action Plan Studies. • Water leakage analysis, solution • Building Science Experts & action plan development and • 30-years serving the condominium project management. sector throughout Ontario. aftEr • Roofing surveys & cost-effective • Window replacement phasing long-term re-design for both programs with energy saving townhouse and high rise. retrofit techniques. TORONTO greg ross 416-252-7259 Ext. 104 BEforE HAMILTON Keith Bryant 905-318-5988 Ext. 103 DESign • EnginEEring • BuilDing SciEncE • ProjEct ManagEMEnt■   1 6   ■ C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2 
  8. 8. site, six years later!) dent of Times Property Manage- and it is believed that the water is We arranged with the board to ment Inc. as well as the president of healthier for the swimmers!meet with three engineering compa- the National Association of Condo- Upon careful planning and consid-nies and within a couple of days the minium Managers and is a former eration of finances, the mortgages forengineer was selected and the Audit member of the Board of Directors of guest suites and superintendent suitesbegan. The Audit was completed ACMO and a past president. were discharged and saved the cor-and filed on time with Tarion. porations a large amount in interest But of course there were deficien- since 1972 payments. The staff employment wascies most notably water penetration changed. Live-out superintendent asthrough the exterior walls of the opposed to a live-in was chosen sinceunderground garage. After several t Streamlining Shared they have a full-time concierge onsite.meetings with the developer, his en- Facilities Rent from the superintendent suitesgineer, the board, their engineer and Malvern Condominium Prop- generates revenue to more than offsetmanagement, we were finally suc- erty Management was awarded the the cost difference in the new model.cessful in having the developer agree management services for One City In addition an application to MPACto “open up” several sections of the Centre. They are a large 700 plus considerably reduced the propertywall and concrete pad – at his ex- unit condo- taxes assessed for the superintendentpense. The caveat was that if our en- minium with and guest suites, which resulted ingineer was wrong in his assessment, a huge shared further savings.then the corporation would have to facility. We did After a careful review of the en-pay for the work. As it turned out what we do ergy efficiency of the condominiumsour engineers’ assessment was correct best: analyze, and always being aware of avail-and the cause of the water penetra- organize and able incentives, management andtion was located and repaired, all at “Malvernize” the board completed an applicationno cost to the corporation! the community! It took a lot of work for incentives, and obtained a large During this entire process man- by management and the two boards incentive for each of the two corpo-agement never assumed an adver- of directors and all components in rations just days before the expiry ofsarial position with the developer. the running and maintenance of the a lucrative incentive program.Everything was always formed in buildings and shared facility were Management also reviewed thewhat would be described as being in scrutinized and addressed. telecommunications, and by stream-the best interest of the corporation A change was made to the indoor lining services and switching provid-and all owners. swimming pool and indoor/outdoor ers, another savings was generated A year later we received another whirlpool. The swimming pool was for the corporations. Each pennycall from another townhome corpo- converted from a chlorine chemical- adds up to savings that the corpora-ration, expressing similar difficulties ly balanced pool, to a salt generated tions are very proud of. The budgetwith the same developer. The devel- chemically balanced pool. Though for 2011–2012 was reduced by 10%oper’s in-house management compa- the conversion cost some money, the maintaining all services and alsony was terminated and we were hired. savings in the everyday running and planning for more improvements.We successfully renegotiated with the maintenance of the pool were signifi- How often does an owner receive adeveloper on a number of remaining cantly lowered. Also, every resident budget that reduces the maintenancedeficiencies and to this day the board that uses the pool loves the change, fee without compromising service?and unit owners remain pleased withall aspects of their community. These two vignettes clearly il-lustrate the importance of buildingstrong working relationships. We re-lied on our working relationships wehad established over the years withthe law firm, the engineer, the securi-ty company and equally as importantthe developer. I am proud to say theserelationships all continue today. So how successful were we? Well,we now provide management serviceto all of this developer’s new sites. Weare no longer the replacement; we arepart of the overall process from thevery beginning! ■ Savings were generated for a corporation with a large shared facility andHarold S. Cipin, RCM is the presi- two boards of directors. C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2    ■   1 7   ■
  9. 9. mized the purchasing power of the Schedule “C” of the condominium fees, and created a better environ- corporation Declaration). One of the ment. Most of all, we have helped to most important create satisfied residents and a sense components of of belonging within the community. the building Residents are calling the corporations envelope is the “HOME” and management is proud roofing system. of “a job well done.” ■ Depending on the wording of Claudia Moisa, RCM, Senior Prop- any Declara- erty Manager, Malvern Condomini- tion and description drawings some um Property Management roof attic repairs are the responsi-One City Centre bility of owners and others of the Management also uses monitors corporation. Townhouse roofs areplaced throughout the buildings (in greatly affected by their close en-lobbies and elevators) to post daily vironment such as wind direction,communications, such as notices and heavy moisture, etc., which all comebuilding updates as well as newslet- t Townhouse Roof together in different ways to lend toters. This helps management connect and Attic Preventive the deterioration of the roof system.with all residents easily and without Maintenance It is hard to believe that roofingthe use of thousands of printed pages. Every townhouse site and/or con- systems will last the duration of theWhat is more important than saving dominium corporation is unique. warranty period without some formmoney in a condominium commu- In general, however, the exterior of preventive maintenance.nity? Continuous communication, envelope and supporting townhouse It is important to note that propercommunication, communication! structures are the responsibility of the attic ventilation is crucial to ensure Why are we all proud of these ac- corporation to repair and/or replace. that the roof plywood maintainscomplishments? We have improved Owners are generally responsible for its structure and is not affected bythe level of service to the residents, the repair and/or replacement of the moisture build-up and rot. In thecreated healthy reserve funds, maxi- interior of their unit attic (based on same way flat roofs must be peri- CONDOLAW.TO 2300 Yonge Street, Suite 2900 T 416 489 5677 P.O. Box 2384 Toronto Ontario F 416 489 7794 Canada M4P 1E4 w■   1 8   ■ C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2 
  10. 10. odically checked for ridging and come worse if there is a long period will be reduced by tens of thousandscracking, and shingle roofs must be of unceasing rain and roofing com- of dollars (this depends on the num-replaced in areas that wear away panies cannot attend the site because ber of units). Moreover, it saves thefaster than the normal wear and tear of these unsuitable conditions. hassle of disrupted enjoyment oftrajectory. After investigation, it was discov- one’s home. One property I have managed ered that some leaks were resultant I am very proud to work withsince I started as a young property from rotting plywood caused by a board that took proactive actionmanager was a group of townhouse condensation due to poor attic ven- even though the property is rela-corporations very close to the lake tilation and not adequate insulation. tively young (about 10 years old).that must deal with constant high While this is not necessarily a com- Management and board informedmoisture, which seems to add higher mon issue, it could be true for some unit owners about the work immedi-than average ice and snow in the units in a corporation and may be ately. Subsequently detailed owners’winter and much more rain in the especially true for older corpora- information meetings (that includedspring and fall than properties in- tions built when ventilation technol- Power Point presentations and pro-land. After assessing a few leaks in ogy was less advanced. fessionals) took place to ensure thatsome units it was noted that one unit In this instance management and everyone had a good understandingalone affected by a small roof leak the board worked with reputable of the issues and to support the fund-could lead to thousands of dollars envelope specialists and roofing ing plan for such unplanned project.spent in trying to repair the leak and companies to put together a preven- Preventive maintenance projectsbringing the unit back to its original tive maintenance plan to repair any can save tens of thousands of dollarscondition. problem areas in all attics. All the per unit in repairs and/or mould re- Water penetration is very difficult units’ roof attics are at the pres- mediation years down the road withto trace as water moves along the ent time inspected and adequate only a couple of thousand of dollarspath of least resistance and a failing ventilation and insulation is pro- per unit investment. ■point on one side of the unit’s roof vided to eliminate the possibilitycould lead to a leak point inside the of moisture build-up that can lead Andreea Dolnicianu is vice-presi-unit at the other end. This would to expensive repairs and/or mould dent of business development andmean added costs for calling back remediations. In a year the budgeted client retention at Comfort Propertythe roofing company. Damages be- amount allocated for such repairs Management Inc. MEMBER C M   C O N D O M I N I U M   M A N A G E R   M A G A Z I N E ,   W I N T E R   2 0 1 2    ■   1 9   ■