November 5, 2013
Click the link below to get the latest update on the disposal well project.
It has been some time since the Board has given an up-date to projects completed and the condition of the building, and for this we apologize. I will attempt to summarize and outline information which you probably already know and try to give a direction to where we are headed over the next months and years.
SPECIAL ASSESSMENT 2006: In 2006 a special assessment of approximately $1.433 million dollars was passed to be paid in one single payment (approximately $12,000.00/ unit) and augmented with an approximately $415,000.00 loan from the Small Business Administration. These monies were to pay for repairs to the pool, trash chutes, air conditioning pumps and equipment, fire alarm system, elevators, building paint, lobby repairs, furniture, and art. This assessment did not cover repairs to balconies, or window replacement to individual units.
SPECIAL ASSESSMENT 2008: When the SPA 2006 projects were completed, an additional assessment was required, due to cost over-runs and budget short-falls. This amount was approximately $282,000.00 and again paid in one payment of approximately $2,500.00 / unit. and was the fiscal close-out of the initial projects. These initial projects were the beginnings of the 40 year recertification of the building program required by Broward County as well as the up-date and modernization of areas determined by previous BOD.
SPECIAL ASSESSMENT 2009: In Late 2008, the Board of Directors implemented a comprehensive plan for the completion of the 40 year recertification program begun in 2006. The most pressing of the projects were the completion of concrete restoration, electrical repair and replacement, and plumbing. These projects, while generally budgeted were only approximations, due to the nature of being unable to fully assess repairs until they were initiated. Because of deteriorating economic conditions, the Board implemented a strategy of loans from banks, loans against our reserves, and a program of special assessing the membership over a period of time. This strategy accomplished 4 important objectives. First, by passing an assessment each 6 months, it reduced the exposure of the association to losses from foreclosures and increased the probability of collection from the Banks. Second, it enabled the members to budget up-coming assessment payments without putting a lump-sum burden on households already struggling in the bad economy. Third, it did not place a large sum of money in an account to be managed and subject to whimsical spending. Fourth, proceeding with these projects in the down-economy enabled the Board to save a great deal of money due to the large number of contractors seeking work. At this time, approximately $1.1 million dollars has been spent on infrastructure repairs.
Concrete Repairs: The repairs required were begun with major work on the supporting columns in the garage, and was supervised by a structural engineer. The work then extended outwards to include work on the exterior building shell and required recertification of the balcony structures as well. At this time, storage room walls and parking deck/pool deck walls were also replaced. This work was originally estimated to cost as high as $850,000.00. Due to the timing of the work, and the recession, contracts were negotiated, resulting in a total expenditure of $258,000.00 to this date. Due to the age of our building and its location, continuing concrete repair/maintenance will be on-going for many years to come. However, with a constant maintenance program in place, the cost of repairs will be substantially lower and spread over a longer time-frame.
Electrical: A professional electrical engineer was retained to re-certify our building electrical systems. Numerous deficiencies were found and all areas were brought up to proper life-safety standards. While it was almost impossible to estimate the actual amount to be budgeted, a ball park of $350,000.00 was established. Of major concern was the main buss feed to the building, which was originally estimated to cost $110,000.00 in parts (it was refurbished for $30,000.00). The total project was completed for $153,000.00 and included major replacement of old aluminum wire with copper, replacement of outdated electrical circuit breaker panels, grounding of receptacles on balconies, grounding of hall lights, rewiring of the ground floor emergency circuits, rewiring of the Community room lighting and rewiring of the Laundry room, as well as dozens of other small projects required by the engineer.
Plumbing: As many of you were aware…especially on the upper floors, water leaks and damage was commonplace. While not part of the 40 year recertification of the building, repair of this was necessitated by the escalating insurance claims and deductibles being paid. Original estimates for the replacement of all of the freshwater plumbing were in excess of $500,000.00 and did not include the waste water piping. Due to the severity of the problem, as well as the opportunity offered by the recession, it was decided to replace every fresh water pipe in the building with copper. While the copper was more expensive and would last longer than the cast iron pipe being replaced, the labor was cheaper….cast iron pipe was cheaper and prone to more leaks, but labor was higher. Additionally, constant back-ups and flooding was occurring from our waste water piping on the ground floor and in the garage. We completed the replacement of all waste water piping on the ground floor and garage, and the fresh water piping for $219,000.00. It should be noted that when the copper pipe was purchased, it was selling for approximately $1.35 / pound; today it is selling for approximately $4.34/ lb.
Community Room: When the project to replace the ground floor waste plumbing was undertaken, it was thought that accessing the piping in the community room would be an easy job of merely removing a few ceiling tiles. However before this could be accomplished, major leaks had developed in the D and E stacks causing water damage. As more and more sheet rock and ceiling tiles were removed, it was discovered that mildew was present and had accumulated over many years, creating a health issue and requiring extensive replacement of walls and ceiling. Since all of these areas were opened up for replacement, the opportunity was taken to rewire and replace the lighting, replace additional, inaccessible plumbing, repair the air conditioning ductwork, and replace the ceiling, saving on additional permits and labor costs. Total cost was $23,600.00.
Laundry Room: As with the community room, replacing all of the piping was the primary objective. Coupled with numerous pipe and drain leaks, was the added condition of high humidity due to a faulty dryer duct system. Years of accumulated lint, mildew, and water damage necessitated the removal of all sheetrock, replacement of the air conditioner ducts and drain lines, new plumbing, new dryer ducts, and new ceiling. Total cost was $7,000.00.
Air conditioning: As many of you have probably noticed, the air conditioning systems in our building have been less than ideal. In 2006, the well pumps were replaced and new vibration mounts were installed, along with a new air handler for the hallway air. In 2010 it was observed that our heat-exchange pack in the pump room was leaking. Pressure drops indicated that we were having a failure in our cooling system. An initial attempt was made to rebuild the unit, however it failed again a short time later. This past summer a new titanium heat exchanger was installed along with numerous improvements in the pump room. While this exercise has resulted in a major improvement in hallway air and individual homeowner unit efficiency, it has come at a price….$62,000.00. Unfortunately, this has been only half of the story. We have been informed by the City, as well as the State Department of Environmental Protection that we can no longer dump our air conditioning cooling water into the Intracoastal Waterway. Injection well development, piping, engineering, and source-well re-development are projected to cost approximately $90,000.00 in additional expenses. Plus, the driveways and curbing are going to have to be cut to accommodate the piping and wells. This project is now on-going.
Interest and Bad Debt: To date, we have paid approximately $48,000.00 in interest on a total loan of $345,000.00 over the past 4 years. This loan will be retired in approximately 3 months. Bad Debt is an accumulation of write-off back to the 2006 Special Assessment and totals $43,500.00. The Association is continuing to pursue a number of individuals for this debt, and has good expectations of recovering a substantial portion of it.
Financial: The cornerstone of any business is its books. We are happy to report that Carlton Towers’ finances are probably in the best condition that they have been in many years. At present, there are no foreclosures. Maintenance and special assessment collections are excellent, and the number of delinquent accounts is at an all-time low, in spite of the continuing economic difficulties. Our accounting is solid, to the point that our auditors reduced their fees for the 2011 audit by nearly $2,000.00, due to the fact that our books are so well organized. At present we are on target to finish the year on budget, and hope to keep monthly maintenance assessments unchanged. This has been partially accomplished by classifying a number of significant over budget repairs to the building as Major Capital repairs and including them in the special assessment budget.
Future Projects: While the Board had previously been optimistic that our renovations and 40 year re-certification of the building would have been completed by now, there have been numerous unforeseen repairs and expenses that have caused the scope of this project to extend both financially and time-wise. The largest project remaining is the continuation of the concrete restoration. The exterior shell of the building is once again in need of repair, and the time has come to re-paint. This coincides with the final completion of unit window replacement, and will finally bring our building into compliance with windstorm mitigation criteria, thereby helping to reduce our insurance premiums. In addition, we are having major leak and spalling problems with the pool and the surrounding deck. The problems have been occurring for many years due to the miss-design of the pool to deck joint. Additionally, problems continue with the membrane sealing the deck to the building. Unfortunately, this membrane is at the end of its useful life and is scheduled to be replaced. In order to replace the membrane, all brick pavers from the pool and grill area will need to be removed. Due to the size and complexity of this repair, the replacement of the old planters and landscaping is being re-designed for these areas also in order to incorporate all of this work into one project.
Another project that dovetails with the concrete and pool restoration is the outside lighting. The existing light fixtures are 40 years old and in dire need of replacement due to the exposure to the salt air and elements. This is compounded by the fact that the wiring to these light is failing and the conduit that it runs in is corroded to the point that new wires cannot be pulled. These deficiencies were observed in our 40 year re-certification by our electrical engineer.
In a nutshell, the finish of the reconstruction of our building is close to completion. The remaining projects all impact one another and will have savings if undertaken in a comprehensive manner. To this end, a structural engineer has been retained to develop specifications to bid for these projects. As we get this information we will be presenting it to the membership.
Once the major infrastructure renovations are complete, the final and most noticeable project to be undertaken will be the re-landscaping and re-surfacing of the driveways. With re-painting and some minor improvements, we believe that the presentation of our building can be enhanced and our property values restored.
The foregoing is by no means, a complete accounting of all projects completed……or contemplated; there are literally hundreds of small projects that have been accomplished over the past year and a half that would require many more pages of boring reading to catalogue. What is hopefully evident from this accounting is that a great deal of progress has been made in the maintenance and repair of The Carlton Tower. While much of this work is not visible to everyday inspection, it nevertheless, is critical. Attached is the financial breakdown of all projects undertaken under SPA-2009
It must be noted; this work has come at a substantial financial cost. As a Board of Directors, and as fellow homeowners, we are extremely sensitive to the financial stress that these projects have placed on everyone. We assure you, every possible effort has been undertaken to minimize costs, seek competitive bids, and analyze value and quality, while trying to raise the value of our property and the quality of our environment.
As has always been the case, our managers office is always open to any request for information. Your association maintains a “Build Book” on every project which includes bids, contracts, notes of problems, and financial payment info. They are maintained for the members to be able to inspect, as well as to maintain a cohesive history of the maintenance of the building, for future managers and Boards. And most importantly, our financial records are open for inspection at any time.
We would like to thank everyone, past and present, that has contributed their time and effort to bringing these projects to completion, as well as all of our neighbors, residents and owners that have patiently accepted these inconveniences. We continue to believe that Carlton Tower is a great community, with great neighbors, and a place where we all want to live.
The Board of Directors, The Management, and Your Employees