Consultant’s Corner: In addition to providing perspectives and analysis from a lawyer, it is beneficial to hear from industry professionals and consultants. These are the folks that serve as expert witnesses during litigation / trial and consult with owners and contractors preconstruction, during construction, and postconstruction. Consultant’s Corner is dedicated towards hearing from those experienced and respected professionals.
K. Patrick Whalen (photo) is President and owner of MPlus Property Services LLC, a Community Association and Commercial Property Management Company with offices throughout Florida. Mr. Whalen is a Florida Licensed Community Association Manager and Licensed Real Estate Salesperson who has served as both an expert witness and consultant to developers and community associations from the early planning stages through turnover. Turnover of the association from the developer to the owners is a crucial milestone to associations. Having an experienced property manager that can navigate owners through the process in ensuring the developer provides all applicable funds and documentation (e.g., minutes of the association, financial records, plans and specifications, certificates of occupancy, written warranties, a turnover inspection report, etc. – see Fla.Stat. s. 718.301(4) relating to condominium association) is imperative. Mr. Whalen takes the time to provide his perspective on developer turnover as a property manager.
PERSPECTIVES ON TURNOVER
As a property manager one of the biggest challenges in maintaining a community after developer turnover is identifying sources for materials and supplies provided, such as mailboxes, light fixtures, decorative tiles and other architectural features on or in a commercial building, home or condominium, or common area.
Having managed and transitioned over 200 developer communities since 1989, experience has helped me to learn and understand the importance of keeping meticulous records on personnel and subcontractors working in a particular community or commercial project. While doing so may involve a considerable amount of time, it can also save you or your clients time and money months and years from now when you can go back to those notes and recall important information.
Over the past 25 years of managing community associations, there have been countless examples of the importance of such records, but one example illustrates how the smallest detail can save tens of thousands of dollars: In 2011, I got a call from a developer asking about a homeowners association we managed for them from beginning through turnover. The developer was concerned because they had received a letter from an attorney threatening to sue over rusting mailboxes installed at each home.
Given that the community built-out to over 5,000 homes and estimates to replace the mailboxes were about $30.00 per mailbox, with another $10.00 per mailbox to remove the old one and install the new ones, the tab for this was going to be around $200,000.00.
Sure the developer could think of a number of reasons why they should not or would not have to pay for the mailboxes, they understood that taking such a position would not be popular with their 5,000+ customers.
Just days before committing the funds, the developer recalled a detailed warranty book that we maintained and provided to the association at turnover. They took note of the fact that the book included not just the warranties on common components like the pool pump, paint and roofing for the common area amenities, but also details about decorative fixtures and finishes, like lights, maybe, just maybe, it included something about the mailboxes, even though they were not the maintenance obligation of the Association. It seemed a longshot.
At the time of their call, it had been over 5 years since turnover and the community transitioned to self-management shortly after. The warranty book given to the on-site manager was nowhere to be found. Wanting to help, we turned to our electronic back-ups for any records kept on our server regarding this community. Among the records we found was a spreadsheet on suppliers / manufacturers and details about their own individual warranties and, to our surprise, we even had scanned copies of warranty papers, which included what came inside the mailboxes—a manufactures lifetime warranty.
Without a doubt, the developer would have paid the cost to replace the mailboxes, but instead was able to make a claim with the manufacturer who not only agreed to replace the mailboxes, but also split the cost of the installation, with the other half paid by the developer. This saved our client over $180,000 in parts and labor and again reminded them of what an invaluable service partner we are to them.
For more information on K. Patrick Whalen:
Phone: 1-855-99-MPlus (67587)
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.