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Water Conservation – Save the Planet, Save Money

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Water ConservationMany states, including our home state of California, are experiencing record low rainfall this season – an event that is sure to trigger tighter water restrictions for your Homeowners Association.

But the time of year or current conditions should not dictate your decision to pursue water efficiency. The bottom line is that saving water saves your HOA money – and all communities could do with a little extra room in this year’s budget.

With that in mind, we’ve put together 4 tips to help you save water and save green.

1. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

First things first – develop a water plan that’s made for your community. If mandatory water restrictions are in place, some communities often need to participate in a designated water budget program or water only on assigned days. Water budgets typically determine a specific number of gallons per square foot, inches per year or a percentage reduction of water use. While participating in such programs, communities can typically chose to water how and when they want as long as they are meeting the terms of the water budget. An irrigation professional can help you determine the best plan for your community.

2. Not being proactive can cost you.

Proper maintenance of irrigation systems are often overlooked and categorized as an unnecessary cost. The truth is proper maintenance is one of the best ways for your HOA to save water and money.

Multiple times per year, the system should be checked for broken heads and leaks. Make sure the heads are pointing in the right direction and that the spray is not blocked by other plants or tall grass. If the water pressure is too high heads may mist or fog, resulting in water that never hits its intended target. Installing devices that regulate the pressure will help you more efficiently and effectively water your property. Look into installing high efficiency nozzles – some of which are even rebated by your local water agency. Lastly, consider replacing heads with drip irrigation whenever possible.

3. Be smart about it.

Smart controllers take into account soil type, rain fall and plant requirements to deliver only the amount of water needed. The cost and features of such controllers vary but some can be completely controlled remotely via the Internet.

Some HOAs may deem smart controllers out of their budget but all should strongly consider installing rain sensors. This affordable yet effective device simply prevents the irrigation system from watering during the rain.

Again, some water utilities provide rebates that make upgrading a no brainer.

4. Don’t make a rookie mistake.

Not all landscape professionals are created equal. In fact, many are not irrigation experts at all. It’s important to make sure that your contractors keep in mind and are equipped to help you optimize your property for water efficiency. Work with them to determine the best water schedule, appropriate plant choices and available rebates.

Read More: Water Efficient Landscape… The Easy Way!

Interested in getting a Reserve Study for your community? Click here to get a proposal!

How Effective HOAs Make New Year’s Resolutions

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Fresh StartWell, it’s that time of the year again – time to reflect on 2013 and resolve to make improvements for 2014.

But, just as you’ve set personal goals for the new year, now is the time to look ahead as a HOA (homeowners association) to form New Year’s resolutions that will set your community up for success this year.

Setting Community Goals (AKA Resolutions)

Effective HOAs constantly seek feedback and input from their homeowners. The beginning of the year is a great time to get on the same page. This year, before you get together with your board, reach out to your homeowners to determine the needs and goals specific to your community – you might be surprised at what you find. This often gives the board a fresh perspective while making owners feel included and active.

Now, take this feedback to your next board meeting for review and choose the areas most in need of improvement, define your goals and prioritize them based on need, budget, time and resources.

Next, you’ll want to distinguish between long, and short term goals. Breakup the long term goals into smaller milestones and recruit homeowners to help you reach them. If you were initially successful when seeking community feedback, this task becomes exponentially easier.

Last but not least, publicly share your community goals and your progress throughout the year. Use your community website and /or newsletter to keep everyone in the loop and up to date. The new year is a great time to reconnect but try to keep up the momentum. A good HOA’s job is never done.

We hope these tips will get your community off to a great start in 2014.

Here’s to a happy and healthy year!

Read More: 5 Homeowner Resolutions for 2014

Interested in getting a Reserve Study for your community? Click here to get a proposal!





3 of the Biggest DIY Blunders to Avoid

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DIY Home

Do You Need Permits?

Every homeowner wants to feel the pride that comes with completing do-it-yourself projects. But oftentimes when we’re on a mission, we unwittingly bite off more than we can chew. There are many DIY projects that can be tackled easily and successfully by most any homeowner without causing more harm than good, but here we’ll take a peek at a few common blunders that may require you to think twice before picking up that tool box and getting started.
Many homeowners jump right into a project before consulting city codes or condominium association rules. Oftentimes DIYers err on the side of just trying to finish a project quickly without anyone being the wiser, as permits are time-consuming. But permits are there to ensure that the time and money you invest into a project is put to good use. For example, San Diego electrical and plumbing permits are an integral part of planning any changes that might affect the integrity of these portions of the home. Oftentimes you need proof of a permit for an insurance carrier to cover it, or there may be specific height and material limits that you’ll need to adhere to in order to get the best price for your home should you choose to sell.

Buying Cheap Materials

It can be an intriguing idea to consider buying materials that are a few levels lower on quality than you originally budgeted. But trust that buying cheaper materials outright can actually cost you more in the long run. Cheap tile can break, cheap carpet can tear, cheap paint can peel, and cheap appliances can wear down or malfunction quickly. This doesn’t mean you have to buy the Cadillac of dishwashers in order to keep yourself out of the quality red zone; it simply means that sometimes a few extra dollars here can save you having to buy those materials all over again in short order. Think of it this way: you aren’t paying for labor, so you have a little extra room to get better materials.

Inaccurate Measuring

We’ve all heard the old adage, “measure twice; cut once.” It’s important not just for good measure, but because one wrong cut can cause a domino effect across an entire project. Fences, drywall, flooring, and other items in the home must be meticulously measured out, as beginning on the wrong foot can cause you to waste materials and run into issues once you hit the end of the project. Always err on the side of caution and measure everything diligently multiple times. A few minutes on the front end can save you from having to scrap yards and yards of material on the back end.
Taking heed of the potential to make these mistakes is the first step in preventing issues that can be caused by do-it-yourself projects. A little bit of planning can go a long way towards making sure your home project goes off without a hitch.

Read More: Top 10 Home Renovation Projects

Interested in getting a Reserve Study for your community? Click here to get a proposal!

The Importance of a Reserve Study

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Reserve StudiesA reserve study is a snapshot of the costs associated with replacing and/or repairing common area components over the long term.(think roof, pavement, pool, HVAC etc.)

A comprehensive study should cover all major repair and replacement costs and funds should be set aside (known as Reserve Funds) by the Home Owners Association.

To put it simply, Reserve Studies help you plan ahead and protect your property value.

In order to do this effectively a Reserve Study specialist will do the following:

  1. Examine the association’s repair and replacement obligations.
  2. Determine the costs and timing of replacement.
  3. Determine the availability of necessary cash resources.

Because the HOA board has a fiduciary responsibility to manage association funds, a replacement reserve budget is extremely important.

Not only does this information inform the annual operating budget by providing owners with necessary financial information; the study is also an important management tool as the association aims to balance and optimize long-term property values and membership dues.

An up-to-date Reserve Study and a healthy budget are important for prospective homeowners because it allows them to evaluate property values in a more effective manner.

They are equally as important for association members, because reserve planning helps protect against declining property values due to deferred maintenance and unforeseen special assessments.

A good reserve study shows owners and potential buyers an accurate and complete picture of the association’s financial strength and market value. It should also function as a maintenance planning tool for the association and property managers.

Interested in getting a Reserve Study for your community? Click here to get a proposal!

HOAs – Don’t Let This Happen to You

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At Barrera and Company, we’ve helped thousands of clients anticipate and prepare for their community’s major repair and replacement costs by providing them with affordable and accurate Reserve Studies to meet their needs. In doing so, we’ve saved them tons of time, energy and money.

However, this economy has some HOAs struggling to make ends meet. As a result it’s way to easy to adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Skipping your next scheduled Reserve Analysis is bad but underfunding your Reserve and ignoring upcoming repair and maintenance costs is even worse.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

We’ve seen this time and time again. You may think you’re saving money but you are setting your community up for failure in the long run. Failing to plan ahead does not make the issues go away. In fact, they’re getting bigger and more expensive by the minute.

Short-sided community management will inevitably culminate in the form of Special Assessments, or worse, devalued real estate.

After looking closely at roughly 1000 past clients, we made a startling discovery.

Watch as our Chairman of the Board, Damian Esparza reveals our findings at recent conference for HOA board members.

HOAs, don’t let this happen to you!

At Barrera and Company, we complete thousands of Reserve Studies each year which have helped our clients comply with the law and prepare for upcoming expenditures. But don’t take our word for it, check out some of our projects and recent reviews.

Interested in getting a Reserve Study for your community? Click here to get a proposal!