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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!

Property Managers: Protect Yourself!

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Over the past 30 years we’ve worked with HOAs and Property Managers to complete more than 17,000 Reserve Studies nation wide. In doing so we’ve learned a thing or two about this unique 3-way relationship.

A Reserve Study is a financial planning tool to help communities identify and prepare for future expenditures. A properly funded reserve, according to a recent Reserve Study, is the best way to protect property values and minimize special assessments.  You can think of it as one part Physical Analysis and one part Financial Analysis.

Read More: What’s a Reserve Study

Tip 1: Assess the Board

The first thing you should do is assess the board you’re working with. You need to understand early on whether you’re dealing a proactive or reactive Board. We know that a properly funded reserve protects property values and reduces the likelihood of special assessments, but ultimately the decision to fund is not up to you. You can only recommend that they follow the professional advice of the Reserve Analyst.

Read More: The Reality of Underfunded Reserves

California Law mandates a Physical Inspection each year and an Assessment and Reserve Funding Disclosure (ARFD) every 3 years. While the law does not require Boards to fund their reserves, it does require that the information is documented and disclosed either way.

Read More: Reserve Studies and California Law

Tip 2: Use Meeting Minutes

So what happens if the Board doesn’t follow professional recommendations?

As a Property Manager, the best way to protect yourself against unjust blame down the road is to denote such decisions in the meeting minutes.

New Board Members come and go and the first thing they want to figure out is what decisions were made before they came on and why. If they find a Reserve in bad shape the first person they tend to blame is the Property Manager. Make sure you can point to meeting minutes that show the conscious decision to not follow professional recommendations. This is the best way to protect yourself.

Watch as our Chairman, Damian Esparza discusses this issue at a recent conference for Property Managers.


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. 

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