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Rising From the Ashes Three years later, personal recollections of the devastating Marco Polo fire and the road to recovery
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EDITOR’S DESK |
Marco Polo Memories, Lessons
Mailed and Distributed on the 10th of Every Month PUBLISHER Amanda Canada
Of the who-what-where-when-how that both journalists and fire inspectors always want answered, in the case of the horrific, historic Marco Polo fire only the what, where and when are known. How it started and who was responsible remain a mystery three years later. That’s how intense the inferno was. Not one clue survived to tell the story. But for those who survived the death and destruction, memories remain vivid. Likewise for those involved in resurrecting the landmark condominium that had always been an aspirational address. We’re pleased to bring some of those stories to readers of BMH. Our package includes the then-manager, the board president, the current manager, the management company executive who worked with Marco Polo, the restoration company that began the cleanup/comeback, the contractor currently working on installing a sprinkler system. I think you’ll appreciate their candor. And because the Marco Polo fire forever changed condo law in Honolulu, our coverage also includes the latest on making older condos like the Marco Polo compliant with fire-safety regulations passed in the fire’s aftermath. More than a remembrance, we believe there are lessons to be learned here for condo managers and boards, in terms of prevention and preparation, including disaster training. ❖ firstname.lastname@example.org
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AWAIIAN PROPERTIES IS THE LARGEST LOCALLY OWNED ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT COMPANY IN HAWAII. We deliver the highest level of service to our 250 clients on Oahu and the Big Island. Hawaiian Properties provides the following: Strong team of 50 property managers supported by 72 administrative and accounting personnel
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contents July 2020 | Volume 36 | No. 7
FEATURED 4 — Editor’s Desk Marco Polo Memories, Lessons 8 — Nine Hurricane Myths Debunked Pandemic or no, Hawaii’s hurricane season started June 1 12 — Three Years Later Personal recollections of the devastating Marco Polo fire and the road to recovery 18 — Meet a Manager: Leland Nye The Allure general manager blends both mechanical and people skills 46 — Jane Sugimura: Legal Matters Budgeting during the COVID-19 pandemic 47 — All Things Condo: Carole Richelieu What boards and owners need to know about insuring their property, part one 49 — Community Corner IREM webinar on re-opening amenities, virus slams condo sales, expo in familiar hands
CONCRETE 22 — Scott Barnes Learning the language of sealants 24 — Damien Enright Is your foundation a safety liability?
PLUMBING 28 — Shane Mizusawa Three ways to control plumbing and water costs as well as risks 30 — Timothy Yee Smart plumbing is getting smarter 32 — Lance Luke Clogged pipes partly due to toilet paper shortage 34 — Eric Lecky When it’s time for a repipe 36 — David Dunham The best time for a big project
PAINTING 38 — Sheldon Ibara How light influences color 40 — Joni McGinnis Exterior paint solutions: the first line of defense 42 — Dean Nagatoshi COVID-19 safety considerations when hiring a contractor
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NINE HURRICANE MYTHS DEBUNKED Coronavirus or no, this is still hurricane season in Hawaii. Is your building prepared?
8 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
ith most eyes in Hawaii focused on the threat of COVID-19 in recent months, many people missed the start of hurricane season on June 1. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Pacific Hurricane Center and NOAAâ€™s Climate Prediction Center, divisions of the National Weather Service, there is a 75% chance of near-or below-normal tropical cyclone activity during the Central Pacific hurricane season this year. The outlook also indicates a 25% chance of an above-normal season. What that means is that between two to six tropical cyclones are predicted for the Central Pacific hurricane region this year. This number includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. A near-normal season has four or five tropical cyclones. But the most salient statistic is this: It only takes one. Despite much news coverage in seasons past, many myths persist. Here we debunk nine of them. Hurricane Myth #9: Only coastal areas are at risk from hurricanes. While the drama of a hurricane crashing into a coastal area makes compelling front-page news, the effects are felt far inland. In fact, strong winds, heavy rain, tornadoes and inland flooding can spread hundreds of miles from the coast, leaving extensive damage and death in their wake. The effects of Tropical Storm Allison on the city of Houston, far removed from where the storm made landfall, were estimated at $4.8 billion. Hurricane Myth #8: A storm surge is the deadliest part of a hurricane. A storm surge is a wall of water pushed ashore as the center of a hurricane moves on land. While a storm surge can be deadly, more people die from inland flooding and flash floods of rivers and streams because they underesti-
mate the power of moving water. Hurricane Myth #7: The upper floors of a condominium or office tower are a safe place to ride out a storm. This is called “vertical evacuation,” and it’s a bad idea. Wind speed increases the higher you go, which can blow out windows and rip off siding. Plus, rising water could cause structural damage to the lower levels. If that’s not enough, high winds and rising water make rescue nearly impossible. Hurricane Myth #6: A powerful hurricane will wipe out my property so why bother preparing? Yes, there is always the possibility of losing it all in a major storm, but you should still take precautions to minimize damage as much as possible by boarding up windows, removing debris that can be potential projectiles, and trimming dead or dying limbs from trees around your property. These simple actions could mean the difference between a repairable house and a total loss. Hurricane Myth #5: Since I have
homeowner’s insurance, I don’t need to worry. Most homeowner’s insurance has a high deductible for hurricane damage and does not cover flooding. Check your coverage and then supplement it with additional flood insurance if you’re in a flood-prone area. A good reference and supplemental coverage program is the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the federal government. Hurricane Myth #4: Before a storm, fill bathtubs and sinks to use as drinking water. While water stored in a bathtub can be used for washing clothes, bathing or flushing toilets, it’s not considered sanitary enough for drinking. Use bottled water instead. Hurricane Myth #3: You should crack the windows during a hurricane or tornado. A common belief is that opening a window will equalize the pressure and keep your house from exploding during a storm, but studies show that
the best way to keep your home safe is to keep the wind out. While no house is airtight, boarding and shuttering up windows and doors is the best protection during a hurricane, especially from flying debris. Hurricane Myth #2: Taping up windows will prevent them from breaking. Tape does little to protect windows from being destroyed by flying debris. And if they don’t break, the tape will have to be scraped off after the storm. The best protection is to cover the windows with 5/8” plywood or special hurricane shutters. Hurricane Myth #1: It will never happen here. While the path of a hurricane can be hard to predict, Hawaii does have a long history of hurricanes making landfall. The best way to protect your life and property is to plan ahead before a storm forms, then heed the warnings and advice of local emergency management agencies. ❖ Source: Danny Lipford/todayshomeowner.com
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e canâ€™t begin to express our appreciation for the hard work and dedication that has helped see us through this difficult and unprecidented time. Your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty inspires all of us to bring our best to every circumstance. Thank you to the Resident Managers, General Managers, Site Managers and staff of Hawaiianaâ€™s 750-plus properties. You are ESSENTIAL!
THREE YEARS LATER Personal recollections of the devastating Marco Polo fire and the road to recovery BY DON CHAPMAN The fire was well underway when the first 911 call went out at 2:17 p.m. on that sunny Friday. The seven-alarm blaze would require more than 120 Honolulu Fire Department firefighters and 15 fire engines to extinguish after hours of fighting. By the time the flames were doused, three people were dead and a fourth mortally injured, 13 others including a firefighter were injured and more than 200 of the 568 units were damaged, 30 totally, and 130 units sustained water damage. Altogether, fire, smoke and water caused more than $100 million in damage. The date was July 14, 2017. By the time the sun rose the next morning, “Marco Polo” had become shorthand for an older Honolulu residential tower that lacked a fire sprinkler system. The fire would shake up the entire Hawaii condominium industry (see sidebar). BMH asked several people who were there at the time and have been involved in bringing back one of Hawaii’s landmark condominiums to share their stories, looking back and looking ahead. 12 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
Benjamin Oates Former General Manager When the Marco Polo fire broke out on the 26th floor, resident manager Benjamin Oates was on the fourth floor. Benjamin Oates “I was with our security chief, explaining a violation for someone to be cited—they had an extension cord coming out of the unit into the hallway, charging something inside from the common power,” Oates told BMH in 2018. “That’s when I heard over the radio that there was a fire out on Kapiolani. He went one way, I took off toward the far, Ewa stairwell. I was just getting to the bottom floor when the alarm started ringing. So I go out to Kapiolani, and I’m looking for a fire to see how close it is to us, and I didn’t see any fire until I looked up and saw fire coming out of one of the units!” Oates, a native of Columbus, Ga., who originally came to Hawaii with the U.S. Army, continued: “What triggered the alarm was smoke in the elevator lobby. It took time for the smoke to drift down and trigger the alarm. I thought, if I can help the firefighters I can help more people. So I wanted to get the elevators running again if I could. I let HFD know if I can get to the roof I can re-set the elevators, I’ve watched contractors do it. One of the captains said OK, and sent a firefighter with me. We made our way up to the roof and there was smoke up there, too. We got to the elevator machine room, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it started again. I said OK, let’s try the freight elevator, but there was too much smoke. I showed the key to the firefighter to open the freight elevator machine room, he had all his gear on, so he goes into the smoke, but he couldn’t get it going. “Coming back down with a resident, we got trapped, 33rd floor, because smoke was coming up the stairs on the Diamond Head end. It was black. “So we went to the middle stairwell, and that was getting smoky. I got a call from security, they said two Otis people were here to look at the elevators. I said
don’t forget we’re up here trapped on the 33rd floor. The smoke got pretty bad in the hallway, but fortunately the firefighter had a (mouth) piece in his suit that we were able to breathe from, so all three of us took turns breathing. “The elevator guys got to us, and we took it down, that was a little bit of a scare. After that I calmed down a little and got back to seeing what else we can do.” Hirokazu Toiya, acting director of the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, recalled: “I met Mr. Oates in the aftermath of one of the worst high-rise structure fires that Honolulu has ever seen, during what must have been the most challenging time for everyone at the Marco Polo. I’ve heard it said that adversity does not build character, it reveals it. Mr. Oates’ character and leadership were evident as he coordinated efforts in recovery and restoration of the building and healing amongst the residents.” Oates’ bravery and competence were recognized the following year when he was named IREM’s International Condo Manager of the Year. Looking back on 2017, again my heart and condolence go out to the friends and relatives of those whose lives were lost as a result of this unfortunate event. I am forever grateful to the Marco Polo Apartments employees, owners and residents. Mahalo nui loa to the first responders, the building management community and businesses for their help and support for the Marco Polo Apartments during that time of need. I cannot speak on getting back to normal because the norm changed. However, affected units had been
abated and rebuilt—all of the hallways, ceiling, floor and walls had also been abated and rebuilt; new carpet had been installed in hallways; and the exterior of the building had been pressure-washed and repainted prior to my departure, which all helped get residents to a new normal.
Recently, the fire alarm was activated on a Saturday morning at the new property that I now manage, Ke Kilohana. My heart rate increased as I turned on my radio to join the investigation. Fortunately, there was no smoke or fire—an employee forgot to cover the smoke detector with a dust cover when he was cleaning up an electrical room. A few things that continue with me from the Marco Polo fire and the restoration thereafter are maintaining a supply of detector dust/paint covers, storing board-up materials year-round, and constantly training all employees on emergency procedures. A term that stays with me from fire-damage restoration about seven years ago is “long-lead items.” This allowed me to ensure equipment and products were shipped, delivered and installed at Ke Kilohana well before our opening.
Lorinna Schmidt Marco Polo Board President Lorinna Schmidt has lived at the Marco Polo for about 45 years, moving in when the building was new. She beLorinna Schmidt came a board member in 2014, and has served as president of the board for the last five years. She was at home the day the massive fire broke out.
An Interstate Hawaii crew works to vacuum up water from floors.
The day of the fire is unforgettable, as most residents like me were ushered out of the building while the fire department and police department arrived to quell the fire and evacuate everyone to safety. My immediate response was to direct firefighters up to the 28th floor to evacuate an elderly woman from her apartment. She, like a few others, had to be carried down the many flights of stairs on a stretcher and out to the front lawn, where we waited for many hours. My apartment was not burned, although it was flooded with water like more than a hundred other units. Many residents could not return to their units for days, weeks or months thereafter. Most directors and owners are not experienced or prepared to meet the unprecedented challenges of such a historic tragedy as the Marco Polo occurrence. The board was advised to remain reticent during the recovery, and at all times stood ready and supportive for all the needs and issues that arose. Within days, Associa OnCall CEO John Carona and senior VP Andrew Fortin provided a team of talented, professional and experienced individuals from all over the United States to come to the Marco Polo and provide the expertise and begin the arduous task of reconstruction. We were very fortunate and our gratitude remains immeasurable. Appearing at the scene of the fire was our property claims supervisor, Thomas Roselli of First Insurance Company of Hawaii, who would play an outstanding and key role in the recovery of the Marco Polo. Highly adept and proficient in nature, Roselli worked at the Marco Polo daily until the reconstruc-
tion was completed, assisting owners and residents in dire need. He was articulate and knowledgeable and was a major asset at our board meetings. His fair assessments and adjustments of the damages were an enormous factor in our recovery. Hundreds of workers descended upon the Marco Polo daily to demolish and remove tons of debris. Raymond Gould, CEO of Interstate of Hawaii, was the main contractor involved in the reconstruction. Dozens of specialized companies also participated. Donations and support from all over the state were overwhelming and these vendors and contributors will long be remembered in the archives of the Marco Polo. After several months of negotiating, a proposal from Alakaâ€˜i Mechanical was accepted for the replacement of kitchen sink waste and vent stacks. The project continued from 2018 through 2019. Owners knew that this project was a necessity due to numerous leaks. Many owners also took this opportunity to replace their own branch lines. These owners did not have to pay a special assessment and for the most part kitchen pipe leaks have been reduced dramatically. On June 15, we began installation of a highly sophisticated fire sprinkler system and an upgraded fire alarm system, without any special assessments on the owners or any borrowing of money from lenders. The highly reputable Dorvin D. Leis has been contracted for the project and we anticipate completion within a year. Fire protection operations manager Jason Blinkhorn and fire protection construction
14 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
manager Jordan Holley are overseeing the team of electricians, engineers and inspectors. Diligent Marco Polo employees, led by resident manager Nars Domingo, will also assist with the difficult task of notification, coordination and access. This long-awaited and costly project has been well received by residents and owners and will be instrumental in preserving the safety and value of our units. Undoubtedly, this historic fire has been a great challenge and extremely difficult for the Marco Polo AOAO. But after three years of reconstruction at a cost of millions of dollars covered mainly by insurance policies, most residents and owners are relieved and settled in their newly renovated apartments. Since this remarkable and miraculous recovery, the Marco Polo Apartments has emerged as a resilient association, financially prudent and strong, and is not only a newer and safer condominium, but a secure investment.
Nars Domingo General Manager On the day of the Marco Polo fire, Nars Domingo was the buildingâ€™s operations manager. A native of Kalihi and a FarNars Domingo rington High School alum who attended Heald Business College to study business administration, he first went to work at Marco Polo in 2013 as a residential specialist (security). Soon after, he became an
administrative assistant and, under general manager Benjamin Oates became assistant manager, then operations manager. When Oates left in December 2018, Domingo was named interim resident manager and became the resident manager in May 2019. I took a half-day off that day. I left at noon and the fire broke out around 2:15 p.m. During the chaos, I was unable to return, as HFD and HPD shut down several blocks in all directions and were not allowing anyone near the property. I was very anxious and angry that I was not there, but returned to work early the following day. I remember seeing water constantly pouring from the lobby ceiling. The lobby area was flooded and filled with displaced residents. There were lots of mixed emotions; you could feel the desperation, confusion, anger, fear, and as a manager you cannot show any of that. I knew I had to be a strong constant for people to hold onto and rely on because things in their lives were uncertain. Many residents were trying to go
back up to their units to retrieve whatever items they could, but because of the dangerous situation we knew we could not let anyone up, so we tried our best to restrict access. After this, the mechanical issues were the first things on the to-do list, so we called in plumbers, electricians, extraction companies, etc. Pipes and valves were broken and leaking, electrical wires were burnt and live wires hanging all over the place, and all areas were wet and flooded with water and debris. When all the emergency items were fixed, which took a few days, the restoration process began. After the fire, the restoration project took roughly two years to complete. Almost all our time and efforts on a daily basis went to restoring this building. Today, we’re very close to 100% of residents who were displaced by the fire being back in their homes. All insurance issues have been settled and all parties paid. As for any lingering effects of the fire, it’s mostly mental. I can say that seeing a fire truck pull onto a property
or hearing one pass by hits a different nerve these days, and I’m sure it’s the same feeling for everyone here.
Raymond Gould Interstate Hawaii Raymond Gould is president of Interstate Hawaii, which was called in to do restoration work at Marco Polo. Interstate is a national company with offices on Oahu and Maui.
It is hard to believe it has been three years since the historic Marco Polo condominium fire. We received the call from the property management company, Associa Hawaii, to mitigate and rebuild the damage to the building as their primary general contractor before the fire department had even cleared the scene. It is an enormous building—nearly 600 units spread across 36
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Kahu Kekoa Kordell blesses Interstate Hawaii crew and the work they performed.
it became clear what a huge logistical challenge this project was going to be. Hundreds of residents still lived in the building and needed ongoing access. They also were required by local regufloors—and the 26th floor where the lations to receive notice about the exact fire originated and spread was a devtiming of the repairs to their units so astation zone. Acrid smoke and soggy debris was everywhere, and water from they could arrange for other accommodations. Fortunately, we have a long the fire hoses had also cascaded down relationship with Associa Hawaii, and every floor beneath the fire, causing we quickly recognized how important extensive damage and safety concerns. that history would be with a complex As we worked with the insurance project like this. adjustor, Marco Polo board members Our first order of business was to and Associa Hawaii representatives, protect entrances and walkways from falling debris using scaffolding over the walkways, and we then provided temporary lighting to floors and corridors that were damaged by the fire, and set up equipment such as air scrubbers and dehumidifiers to stabilize the building. We also brought in a full-time, permanent safety officer for the job within the first 24 hours. One of the ways we can make life better for our customers on a project like this is to understand what is important to their residents and find INTERSTATE HAWAII IS NEARBY AND READY TO HELP YOU small ways to help make them feel like From small pipe breaks to complete building disasters, Interstate Hawaii is are returning to normal quickly. things From small pipe breaks to complete building disasters, kama’ainacompany that hasthat your In this case, that meant reopening the Interstate Hawaii is a a kama’aina hasback. your back. recreational areas, including the pool, as soon as possible. We built a protecWith response centers centers in the city and With response in the citytive and breezeway for safe access and then county of Honolulu and Maui County, we positioned county of Honolulu, we are we cleaned the glass and debris from are positioned for 24/7 rapid response for 24/7 rapid response to business the pool and the surrounding areas. to business emergencies from the Big emergencies from the Big Island to Maui, Upon reopening the area to residents, Island to Maui, Molokai and Kauai. Molokai and Kauai, and homeowner we had Kahu Kekoa Kordell bless the • Water & Flood Damage emergencies on Oahu and Maui. And we breezeway and pool. Being thoughtful • Fire & Smoke Damage offer a 100% work guarantee. about steps like this can make a big • Mold Removal & Remediation difference in the way residents respond • Asbestos Abatement • Water & Flood Damage to the work. • Temporary Cooling & Power Services • Fire & Smoke Damage LIC# BC-34723 While that work was going on, we • General Contracting & Repair • Mold Removal & Remediation • Storm & Wind Damage Restoration also pulled in additional resources • Asbestos Abatement • Biohazard and Trauma Scene Cleanup from our Interstate national team for • Temporary Cooling & Power Services • COVID 19 Decontamination Services help with scoping and planning the job. • General Contracting & Repair The initial plan involved tackling three • core Storm & on Wind Damage We pride ourselves by and practice our values a daily basis. Restoration floors every ten weeks over a period of Biohazard and Trauma Scene Cleanup These values deﬁne us, our • culture and our brand. two years, but we found ourselves com• COVIDDo 19the Decontamination Sense of Urgency, Gather and Grow Talent, Accountability, Right Thing, HaveServices Fun pleting five floors every six weeks for just over a year. We segmented units on each floor into multiple containment areas. After sealing off and establishing negative air pressure in a containment area, we removed all wet material or material affected by smoke or soot. Our mitigation team then moved to the second area while the hygienist tested the first. Once the hygienist approved an Find us online at www.interstatehawaii.com or call us at 808-484-4095. area, the rebuild team and subcontrac-
Thank you Marco Polo for allowing us to be your Restoration Partner
16 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
tors completed the structural work. I’m proud that we completed the project on budget in about 16 months—eight months ahead of original projections. Speed and safety go hand-in-hand. Safety issues mean delays that slow your schedule. We took safety seriously and held daily meetings for all trades working in the building to communicate the importance of safety and highlight any key concerns that teams should be aware of while they worked that day. As a result, we did not have a single safety incident on the project. When I look back on what made this project successful, what stands out the most is the strong relationships that developed over the course of the project. Communication, collaboration and trust were essential and led to the successful reconstruction of those areas damaged by the fire. The Marco Polo board, the homeowners association, the subcontractors, the fire department, the City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, the insurance estimators, the insurance consultants and the Interstate team all played critical roles in getting the project completed and residents back in their homes. We have had the pleasure to join the Marco Polo board, staff and residents to celebrate the holiday season, reflect back on the experience and honor incredible partnerships, and friendships, forged through a catastrophic event.
Tiffany Rieta Associa, Community Manager Associa’s property management relationship with the Marco Polo Apartments began in 2015 when it merged with Tiffany Rieta Hawaii First, barely two years before the fire. Tiffany Rieta, a Mililani High School and UH-Manoa alumna, was working for Associa as director of management services and shortly after the fire was named Marco Polo’s community manager. Associa provided communication, support and oversight as the project moved along. LHR provided schedul-
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Partly It’s Mechanical, Partly It’s People Leland Nye knows he’s doing a good job at Allure Waikiki “when everything is working as it’s supposed to.”
Photography by Hiep Nguyen – Slick Pixels Hawaii 18 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
Leland Nye TITLE: General Manager, Allure Waikiki
Growing up on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, Leland Nye wasn’t raised specifically to become a building manager. But his father Raymond, who worked for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and mother Rosemary, who worked for the National Traffic Safety Administration, certainly gave him a foundation to make such a career accessible. It started at their rental property on the island that from Seattle can only be reached by ferry. “I worked on that house from the time I was young,” Nye recalls. “Painting, roofing, yard work, a little of everything.” Then during summers, he headed
When did Allure Waikiki open? Number of units: 291.
Do you live on the property?
Amenities: Pool, gym, barbecue area, community room.
Do you have vacation rentals? Management company: Hawaiiana Management.
When did you come aboard? August 2016.
There’s a 30-day minimum stay.
down I-5 to Eugene, Oregon, where his uncle had a construction company and put Nye to work building houses. Back on Bainbridge, “my dad and I worked on cars together. I always enjoyed the mechanical side. I just never thought I could make it a career.” For college, he enrolled at Washington State University in Pullman, majoring in communications. “I wanted to get into advertising and marketing, but when I graduated I heard that a job with Colliers in Hawaii had opened up. I applied and got it. That’s how I got into property management. It was a smooth transition since I already had experience maintaining a property.”
Yes, I recently sold my house in Kaimuki and moved into the building. It’s me, my wife and two boys, ages two months and three and a half. It was surreal having a baby during a pandemic.
What are the advantages of being here? Building closer relationships with the residents. I have been www.tradepublishing.com/building-management-hawaii 19
able to get to know everybody a little bit better.
Number of board members, and how often do you meet? Seven board members. We meet every quarter, sometimes more depending if we are working on large building projects.
Number of staff: 23. Previous building management jobs? Waikiki Landmark and Pacifica Honolulu.
Other jobs: Commercial property manager for Colliers, management executive for Hawaiiana Management.
Schooling: Bachelor’s degree in communication from Washington State University. Master’s degree in human resource management from University of Hawaii. I tell other managers the single best skill set I have is the HR side. With 23 staff, there are a lot of opportunities to follow HR best practices.
team member. I like working with the board, committees, staff and vendors. All of us are team members trying to achieve common goals. Completing goals gives everyone a good sense of pride. Two, learning building mechanics/ engineering. I don’t have an engineering degree, but If I could go back to school, I would love to be a mechanical engineer. Every building has so many moving parts and understanding how they all work together is fascinating and challenging. I’m learning new things every day. I talk with a building manager, a long-timer, and he tells me he’s still leaning. Three, when everything is working as it’s supposed to. I love it when a resident comes home at the end of the day, takes a warm shower, makes dinner, watches TV, there’s no interruption of people’s lives. And they don’t have a clue about all the moving parts behind the scenes it took to make that possible.
Most important qualities for a condominium manager?
What do you like about building management? One, working as a 20 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
1. Leadership. 2. Effective communication (be a good listener).
3. Well-rounded experience. 4. Be humble. (I don’t know everything, no one does, and that is OK. If you don’t know an answer, go find it.) 5. Problem solver. 6. Hard worker. 7. Good understanding of financials and human resources. 8. Good understanding of building mechanics.
How has the coronavirus changed daily operations? Good question. This is the first day (June 1) that we’re reopening our amenities, other than the gym. And just today we’re enacting a new cleaning matrix. Every inch of the common areas has been mapped out for cleaning on a regular schedule. And we were about two-thirds of the way through plumbing, air conditioning and dryer vent unit inspections when the coronavirus shut us down. We are tentatively going to resume inspections in August, which is now subject to information we receive from government officials. ❖
...continued from page 17
ing and oversight of all common area repairs. The relationship has evolved, and I am in constant communication with board president Lorinna Schmidt and resident manager Nars Domingo, both of whom have devoted countless hours to serve the association. The lesson from Marco Polo is to always be prepared. Have a plan. Ensure fire alarms are regularly serviced and tested. The installation of fire sprinklers that is currently underway at the Marco Polo is a necessity. Without the support, dedication, knowledge and understanding of the Marco Polo residents, board of directors, resident manager and staff, as well as Associa On Call and many volunteers, the rebuilding/repairs of the Marco Polo could not have been completed.
Jason Blinkhorn Fire Safety Contractor Jason Blinkhorn of Dorvin D. Leis Co. Inc. is overseeing the Marco Jason Blinkhorn Polo sprinkler job. Trained in both firefighting and fire protection engineering, Blinkhorn is experienced in fire sprinkler design, fire alarm design, chemical suppression systems, as well as fire investigations, fire modeling, anything to do with fire science. And he’s passionate about his work, including testifying at hearings on condo fire safety at City Council meetings. As Blinkhorn told BMH in late 2017: “I sat through a couple of meetings of the City Council with the Residential Fire Safety Committee. There was a lot of misinformation on what it actually takes to do this work. “I’ve heard the argument that fire alarms are designed to save people and sprinklers are designed to save property. I heard that at the council meeting, a community forum, and it’s simply not true. Sprinklers are an early suppression method to allow people to get out of the building, to make sure it doesn’t spread to the point you either burn to death or die from smoke inhalation. It’s really to allow egress.”
Making Your Building 18-14 Compliant The deadline is less than a year away for condos to pass a life safety evaluation
In the wake of the Marco Polo fire, City Ordinance 18-14 became law on May 3, 2018. All condo associations should already be taking action to meet its standards. The ordinance requires all residential high-rise buildings to install fire sprinklers throughout unless the building is exempt or it gets a passing score in a Life Safety Evaluation (LSE). Buildings are exempt if they are under 10 stories or have open exterior corridors. All buildings—even though exempt from installing fire sprinklers—must pass an LSE, an inspection by a licensed professional to determine that the building is relatively safe from fire hazards. The licensed professionals are required to record their findings on an Excel spreadsheet called “the Matrix” that was developed by the Honolulu Fire Department. Before negotiating a proposal to do an LSE, building managers should familiarize themselves with the Matrix by reviewing it or downloading it from the HFD website: honolulu.gov/hfd/resourceslinks. The ordinance has an initial deadline of three years to complete an LSE. Battalion Chief Wayne Masuda of HFD recently told BMH legal columnist Jane Sugimura that about 150 buildings have completed their LSE, but that the ordinance does not require the buildings or their licensed professionals to report their findings or conclusions to the fire department, as this is only an estimate. If that estimate is accurate, there are at least 170 buildings that still have to complete their LSEs, and they need to do so before May 3, 2021, less than a year away. Masuda also indicated to Sugimura that the fire department is not inclined at this time to extend the three-year compliance deadline, and would likely oppose any action to extend that deadline. The message to associations and other high-rise buildings on Oahu is that if you have not done so, you need to get a licensed professional to do the LSE for your building so that your LSE is completed by May 3 of next year. Completion of an LSE, however, is only the beginning, because few aging buildings will get a passing score on the first try. The LSE will identify discrepancies that will need to be addressed to get a passing score. Some “fixes” are relatively easy and inexpensive, such as installing smoke detectors in each bedroom and one in the hallway. Others, such as updating a fire-alarm system or closing vertical openings, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The deadline for getting a passing score on the LSE is six years from May 3, 2018, or May 3, 2024, less than four years away.
The Marco Polo retrofit project has been a challenge to get through the local authorities’ approval process—it took almost a year for them to review and approve it, and our now-approved design has not differed from Day One. Needless to say, that delayed the project substantially. I am, however, happy to say we have now finished the fire alarm
portion in the garage, the building’s fire pump and standpipes, and we have mocked up several floors with fire sprinklers at this time. That was before COVID, which delayed us several more months. As of June, we’re slated to start back up full production in the units and corridors installing their new fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems. Our goal is to be complete by the end of 2021. ❖
CONTRIBUTORS | CONCRETE
Learning the Language of Sealants
Choosing the right concrete coating depends on the project
n our business we often hear phrases that use the word “seal” in relation to concrete decks. Coming from property owners, condo board members and property managers, the word has so many meanings and far-reaching implications that we usually stop the conversation right there and start asking questions to narrow down what it is that they want to achieve. Ask 10 people what “sealing the concrete” means to them and you will likely get 11 answers! As a rule of thumb, “sealing” to a licensed concrete coating contractor means either installing a waterproof coating, decorative coating or penetrating coating, or maybe a combination of coatings depending on the structure. To further complicate things, each of these coating types has sub-categories, grouped by material, application and finished appearance. There are even some waterproofing coatings that still “breathe.” Understanding the language used in concrete coatings also is important so both client and contractor are on the same page. Words you might hear or come across in a proposal or in researching coatings include elastomeric, solvent-based, water-based, cementitious, penetrating, on-grade, above-grade or elevated, primer coat, base coat, wear coat, texture coat, top coat and clear coat. As an estimator, I usually start by asking whether the structure to be coated is elevated or on-grade? This is key, and depending on the answers to the next few questions there could be multiple options. Or maybe just one. My next question usually is about traffic—is it vehicular or pedestrian?
At this point I am narrowing down the options available and starting to formulate additional questions that will ultimately give me one or two recommendations. Next question: Are you trying to protect the concrete or change its appearance, or both? Next I ask the client what they want to see as a finished project. What do they expect the coating to do or solve? How long do they expect it to last, and what is their expected level of maintenance? I usually get asked about coatings for four basic types of structures: parking decks, pool decks, walkways/lanais and planters. Parking decks and walkways are usually the easiest to provide recommendations for, because by their very nature they are “elevated” and should be waterproofed. Typically, that waterproofing type is the multi-layer elastomeric coating. They start with a primer
22 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
and base coat to seal the concrete in a non-breathable “rubber” coating. The rubber coating of course needs to be protected so additional layers of material are added on top of the primer and base coat. For vehicles, it is usually two wear coats in driving lanes and a single coat in parking stalls. Elevated deck waterproofing usually involves coating the whole concrete slab on every elevated floor, but there are some parking decks that only receive the coating at the parking stalls that are open to the environment (rain). This is less costly than coating the whole structure, but in my opinion does not fully consider wind-swept water being moved into the driving lanes, causing wheel spin and sliding by cars and pedestrians moving across wet floors. In cases like this, maybe the parking stalls should be coated with an elastomeric, and critical known areas of pedestrian traffic or vehicle turns
can have an epoxy coating application for the added traction. Typically, epoxy coatings wear like iron and very rarely need repair or refreshes, or need to be removed and reapplied like the elastomeric coating that can rip, bubble and tear over time. Epoxy coatings are typically installed out of direct sunlight and would be considered the premium of coatings. One point that needs to be clarified here is that the waterproof coating only gets applied to the horizontal surfaces of the elevated concrete deck and if possible, the edges. The coating does not get applied to the underside of the deck (the ceiling of the deck below.) If it was applied on all sides of a deck it would totally encapsulate the slab and prevent the “breathing” that is necessary to longevity in concrete. The breathing of concrete is necessary to allow moisture to flow in and out of the concrete continuously. You might not think that solid concrete is “wet,” but a recent survey of a pool deck at a major hotel being prepared for a new coating revealed a relative humidity rate in some areas above 90%. This kind of moisture is problematic for coatings but it is not impossible; it just requires additional moisture mitigation work. The next most requested structure are pool decks. Again, the right product requires knowing if the pool deck is on-grade or elevated. Elevated pool decks have a choice of coating types. Because they are elevated and need protection, they can receive an elastomeric coating. Or if a more pleasing appearance is required, they can receive a cementitious coating as long as there is a waterproofing membrane incorporated into the cementitious product and not an underlying one already there under a topping slab. With the waterproofing component, cementitious coatings are perfect for elevated pool decks, rec decks, walkways and lanais. Cementitious coatings feel great on bare feet. They have at least three texture finishes and have multiple color choices, custom stains, custom patterns and borders, and can be repaired easily
and usually imperceptibly. Cementitious coatings are by definition using a cement base. Cement is put down with a hand trowel by skilled masons, which is different than the elastomeric which is usually put down by a roller. The cement is mixed with polymer to provide a thinness not capable with standard concrete. Typically, elastomeric coating costs less than cementitious coatings. On-grade pool decks, walkways and lanais should not receive a waterproofing coating, only a breathable coating, which typically shifts the coating choices back to the cementitious coating. With planters, usually they are leaking by the time I get called. Typical solutions for leaking planters range from simple crack repair to full removal of contents, concrete spall repair and then recoating with a waterproofing that could be full epoxy to elastomeric.
The last two coatings that I want to talk about are epoxy coatings for interior decks/floors and penetrating sealers. Epoxy coatings are excellent as industrial coatings for warehouses and custom epoxies are incredibly decorative finishes for homes, churches, showrooms etc. If you want protection and/or a totally custom finish on an interior floor, I suggest looking at epoxy floor offerings. ❖ Scott Barnes is a concrete specialistestimator with Central Pacific Specialty Contractors. He has over 10 years of experience in concrete restoration, concrete repairs, epoxy injections, concrete coatings, decorative concrete coatings, waterproofing and pools. His specialty is the repair and maintenance of concrete for the owners and managers of low-rise apartment building walk-ups. Reach him at 255-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTRIBUTORS | CONCRETE
Is Your Foundation a Safety Liability?
Storm season means it’s time for a stability check of the potentially shifting soils around your building
t’s storm season again, and you know the drill: secure your roof, stormproof your windows, sample your soil. Sample your soil? Yes, foundations fall victim to storms. And in a big way. Sinking, landslides, failing seawalls all could be your problem with heavy rain. Not to mention a hurricane. The high volume of water and improper drainage can lead to fatal shifting of your building’s base and wreak havoc on the structure of a building. And you don’t necessarily feel your building’s groundwork moving, or hear any cracking. So how can you tell if your building’s foundation is compromised or unstable? There are definite symptoms you can look for to determine if your building is sinking. Cracks in drywall, crevices or voids in outside walls, windows or doors sticking when being opened or closed are all telling you the foundation is no longer level and may require realignment to avoid further damage. If your building is nestled against a hillside, you may even need to excavate the soil that’s bodied up to the edifice to expose the wall and look for fractures. So you’ve suddenly noticed a sinister crack creeping up a wall. Now what? You’ll need to figure out what’s happening beneath the symptoms to know the truth of the underlying issues. That’s where a soil sample comes in. A soil analysis will indicate exactly what’s wrong and the best solution to treat your certain type of soil. You see, Hawaii has some of trickiest soils in the United States. Oahu alone has a dozen different soils, including sand, corals, boulders, gravels, swamp and
expansive clays. The type of soil your foundation is built on will determine what treatment is required. Therefore, a professional must take samples of all the different layers of soil at your property to learn the density, solidity and moisture content. The engineer should also conduct an indoor topographic map of your flooring to see how level—or not so level—your building is. Once they determine your exact soil type and the location of the settlement, you can take action with a proper engineered solution. Your treatment might be to apply a thick coat of waterproofing on the wall. If your building is next to a hillside, you may have the option to inject polyurethane foam as a gel barrier by drilling through the lower room, to avoid having to excavate the soil and save on costs. You may need support piles installed to the sinking side of your building in order to lift it out of the sliding soil. A good foundation stabilization expert will have different piles for different soils. Your engineer report will determine where the basalt is and then they will use the appropriate pile(s) to elevate your building’s weight off of the soft, shifting soil and lock it down into hard, unmoving bedrock, re-leveling it as much as 12 inches. When you’re ready to call a foundation specialist, check the DDCA to see if the contractor has the proper licenses (and has been licensed for a while) for the treatments necessary to restore your foundation. Your project may necessitate many licenses, depending on what the engineer recommends, including waterproofing, excavation, concrete construction and/or pile-driving licenses. Checking
24 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
for licenses will help you avoid hiring a contractor who’s trying to expand to project types in which they aren’t necessarily experts, and ultimately could save you from unnecessary problems and labor costs. You should also take out a $5- to
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$6-million insurance policy on the contractor and be sure to receive a warranty. Get something in writing to ensure the money you’re investing is protected. The whole process of your foundation restoration will take a few months. Afterward, your windows will open and shut smoothly again, cracks will close, and you no longer risk sinking, landsliding or other structural damage again. Congratulations! Your building is now safely secured into the solid bedrock below. You’ve just implemented a permanent solution to something that could wreak havoc to your building on a continual basis. That’s one less crisis to worry about while securing your roofs and storm-proofing your windows. ❖ Damien Enright is the president and RME of Structural Systems, an A-General Engineering Contractor. He can be reached at 845-2474 or visit ssihawaii.com.
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
Avoiding a Plumbing Catastrophe
down to 1.25 gallons. For buildings with common water, it is often worth it for the association to simply pay for new toilets to be installed in order to reduce their water bill. Installing a new shower head at the same time can also have a big impact. 2.5gpm is the norm so a 2.0, 1.75 or 1.5 are all improvements.
Every year, plumbing leaks cause billions of dollars of damage in the United States alone, and 8.1% of all American households experience a water leak. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average water damage insurance claim is a staggering $10,234, and the risk for multi-unit properties can be even greater. Furthermore, water damage goes hand-in-hand with mold, which can pose very serious health risks. Babies, infants and toddlers, elderly people, and those with pre-existing health conditions are all at elevated risk of illness associated with mold exposure. Even small under-counter leaks can lead to the proliferation of mold over time if left unaddressed. Mold can expose property managers to major repair costs and potential legal liability. Leak detection systems may represent the single best insurance against catastrophic building damage. Properly installed, these systems monitor for leaks, provide automatic water shutoff at the main water supply and as well as every point of use. Some systems even monitor outside the pipes for moisture. One system, Flo by Moen, monitors changes in your home’s water pressure to detect a leak. A single device is installed on the main water line near the shut-off valve. When a drop in pressure is detected, an alert is sent to a phone
Many building managers have diverted their water expense to tenants by sub-metering, which involves installing individual water meters behind the master meter of a multi-unit commercial or residential property. Transferring water usage fees to tenants eliminates a large expense variable. During the recent stay-at-home quarantine, residential building managers without sub-metering likely saw significant overruns in their water expense budgets. The benefits are numerous: • Additional cash flow • Stabilized utility payments • Reduced operating costs • Increased property value • Enhanced water conservation • Helping the Environment A retrofit of the plumbing system is easier in buildings that have one main supply line per unit, but there are products on the market that can monitor multiple points-of-use in each unit as well. Even though the latter process is more expensive initially, the savings over time will overwhelm the initial outlay.
Low Flow Toilets and Shower Heads Installing low flow shower heads and toilets has a great impact as well. Older toilets can flush of up to 4.5 gallons per flush. Modern bowls are
Leak Detection Systems
28 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
lumbing costs can be controlled, budgeted and minimized when property management puts proper maintenance schedules and preventative measures in place. Failure to do so can have catastrophic outcomes. Here are a few ways to control plumbing and water costs as well as risks to your buildings.
Yuzuru Ganono/Wikimedia Commons
Three ways to control plumbing and water costs as well as risks
via WiFi. If the cause of the pressure change is known, the alert can be quieted before it turns off the water supply. Once a day (usually in the middle of the night), this device will turn the water supply off temporarily to check for any change in pressure, indicating tiny leaks. A different model is available for larger water lines, and a more expensive model comes with a battery backup in case of power cuts. Wifi systems use one central brain that utilizes multiple remote sensors to protect the property. A broken washing machine hose can cause just as much damage as a leaking water heater, so you would want to monitor both locations.
Tankless Water Heaters For buildings with individual unit water heating, traditional tank-type water heaters are another common source of property damage. Another way to minimize risk is by installing tankless water heaters. Buildings with electric heaters struggle with installing electric tankless because of the amp draw. In general, most units have 100 amp service, where it takes about 50amps of power to supply 2gpm. This means that you can use one fixture at a time. The average heater is on a 30amp breaker so owners would need to consult their electricians to see
if this is an option for them. Gas tankless heater have a greater performance but will require an electrical connection and have specific gas and vent requirements. This is something that owners should consult with their plumbers about. In general, tankless heaters heat water with a greater efficiency than a traditional tank. In addition, they do not suffer from the cost of heat loss because there is no volume of water. Electric tankless have warranties up to about seven years and gas tankless are about 15 years. Individual energy savings is up to the individual’s consumption, but it is usually much greater than a traditional tank. Most consumers who are drawn to tankless are interested in the performance on endless water and space savings. Of course there is also the added benefit of not having a tank that can leak. For buildings with central water heating, tankless heaters can also be a viable option but require customized engineering solutions, according to Ferguson’s business development manager Jim Moore. When it comes time to replace water heating systems, consult a professional to ensure the most cost-effective solution for the short and long term. ❖
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
Smart Plumbing Is Getting Smarter
With the continued expansion of the Internet of things, manufacturers are creating systems that manage water flow, recognize leaks and provide real-time analytics and alerts
t is interesting how plumbing is finally catching up to the innovations available to the industry. In previous articles, I have written about innovations in water heating as well as plumbing fixtures that are “smart.” I have also spoken on plumbing fixtures that conserve water without sacrificing performance. These are great innovations that provide a more robust experience and/or help to preserve our precious resources and in turn reduce operating expenses. In this article, I would like to bring attention to one of the hottest trends in the industry: leak detection and flow analytics. With the continual expansion of IOT (Internet of things), many manufacturers have been able to create systems that can manage water flow, recognize leaks, mitigate situations and provide real-time analytics and alerts via the Internet. Basically, these systems are made up of a brain, a solenoid, sensors and flow meters. The solenoid valve and flow meter (not all systems have flow meters) are installed at the main water line of a unit, the sensors are installed at any area where a leak may occur, and the brain monitors and analyzes the performance of the system. Long story short, if a sensor detects a leak, the brain will shut off the solenoid valve and alert the user. Units with the flow meter can provide additional analytics on flow as well as usage by time, days, months, peak usage. The systems are relatively inexpensive and can be as simple as a basic shut-off system or provide full analytics. Of course, you should hire a licensed plumber to install the system, and Internet connectivity is necessary for analytics and alert features. I know, dollar signs are flowing through your
head, but there are several important benefits to a system that are extremely attractive to the building, facilities and property management community. The first and obvious benefit is the mitigation of water intrusion caused by leaking fixtures or user error. Stopping a single major flood could pay for all the systems in a building. Furthermore, many insurance companies are willing to provide a premium discount if these units are installed. Imagine getting an alert that the toilet sensor in the hallway bathroom of unit 909 detected a leak—amazing, right? Take it a step further. The alert said that the solenoid valve was turned off and the water flow has been stopped. What is that worth to you? Not only do you know there was a leak, but it was mitigated and now you can finish up what you are doing and head over to assess the situation. The second and often overlooked value of the system is the flowmeter. Many of our properties are built with a single water meter and/or a central water heating system. With a system installed at each unit, you can now assess usage by unit. The real-time analytics can tell you exactly which unit is using water, how much, how long, when, and the list goes on. What a tremendous benefit beyond leak detection for your ownership or AOAO. The last benefit I will bring up, even though there are more, is the remote management ability. If your property has part-time residences or periodic gaps between occupants, you can remotely turn off the water system. How many times have your tenants left the unit and didn’t report a leak or even left something running. With the remote management, you can turn the system off until you can do formal
30 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
inspection. How cool is that? There are multiple companies making smart systems today: LeakSmart, Honeywell Home, Sense Guard by Grohe, Flo by Moen. There are different methods that the brains use to calculate a leak, sensors, algorithms or a combination of both, so be sure to take your time in choosing the correct system for your needs. On the subject of IOT, plumbing and analytics, I want to also mention several companies who have incorporated similar technology into commercial faucets and flush valves. With the Internet, a small brain, a small flow meter and a small solenoid, faucets and flush valves can be connected to an operating system. The brain will allow ownership to recognize leaking fixtures from afar and through alerts. For properties with dozens of public restrooms, it is a task to monitor all of the faucets and flush valves for functionality. Imagine if they started telling you they aren’t working, possibly telling you what is wrong? Furthermore, when you get the analytics, you will see which bathrooms are heaviest or least used, even which stalls or urinals are heaviest or least. You can then manage your maintenance and cleaning plans around true usage. We are even seeing large properties redesign their layouts, traffic patterns and bathroom spacing for future projects. ❖ Timothy Yee is area manager for Ferguson Enterprises, Hawaii. He has 25 years of experience in plumbing, appliance, lighting, cabinets, water works, fire sprinkler and industrial wholesale distribution. He is active in traditional specification, design-build and design-assist process for residential and commercial projects. Reach him at 832-7441 or Tim.Yee@Ferguson.com.
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Customer Reviews and Ratings – Hawaii Plumbing Group
“HPG has been very price competitive and always do the work for a fair price. We highly recommend Hawaii Plumbing Group and give them an A+ rating. Our go-to contractor for all our plumbing needs.”
“I’ve gotten calls from different Associations and Board Presidents that has to make these kinds of decisions... I tell them it’s not as scary as it seems when you’ve got a good contractor and a good project manager.” REYNA MACHIDA MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE, HAWAIIANA MANAGEMENT CO., LTD.
“I’ve been in the property management industry for over 30 years. I highly recommend HPG for work you need to get done.”
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JAMES PARKER MANAGER OF 3003 KALAKAUA
“ HPG has the ability to work on complex plumbing issues and still finish on time and within budget.” LANCE LUKE CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER, BUILDING EXPERT AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR
“We work incredibly hard to ensure our clients are extremely satisfied with what we do for them. It is through client feedback, that we constantly strive to improve the way we do business. Our goal at HPG is to exceed client expectations and make you a customer for life. The bottom line is when you’re happy, we’re happy!” – Kimo Pierce, Managing Partner
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
Clogged Pipes Partly Due to TP Shortage
Hawaii plumbers have been busy since the pandemic quarantine began
ome facts surrounding the recent high number of calls to plumbers due to clogged pipes: Have you seen the long lines at Costco? Hey, brother, can you spare a roll? The current COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a buying panic and hoarding of paper goods that has caused toilet paper to be out of supply. The shortage of toilet paper has caused people to use substitute products such as napkins, paper towels and wipes that are not a substitute for toilet paper from a plumbing pipe perspective. Letâ€™s take a quick look at the anatomy of a toilet drain pipe. When a toilet is flushed, the water and debris flows down a drain pipe that is generally about four inches in A 4-inch pipe loses capacity because of corrosion and debris.
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diameter. The type of drain pipe material commonly used in older homes and buildings is cast iron. There are other, newer types of drain pipe material in use, such as clay, ABS and PVC, but in this discussion weâ€™re talking about cast iron piping. Cast iron corrodes from the insides of the pipe, and corrosion may lead to cracks, bumps, ridges where debris that is flushed down the toilet can get caught. Imagine taking a four-inch piece of pipe and stuffing down crumbled pieces of paper towels. You will soon see that the pipe is going to get filled up in very short order. Cast iron pipes historically last on an average between 3540 years. Over many years of use, sludge and debris build up and stick to the insides of the pipe. This buildup causes the original 4-inch clear diameter of the pipe to gradually turn into a 2-inch or less rough diameter pipe. The 2-inch loss in diameter is due to blockage as a result of the debris clinging to the insides of the pipe. Over time the pipe diameter gets smaller and smaller, resulting in slow draining, and eventually a backup and flooding situation. In addition, toilets today are a low-flow type that requires less water as compared to the older toilets. So now you have a situation where there is less water being used to flush down drain pipe debris. Also, the kitchen pipe is used to wash grease down and eventually the grease builds up and turns into what is called a fatberg. The reason why only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet is based on the principle of biodegradable factors. Toilet paper is made to biodegrade fast. Other products not so fast, and thus remain stuck in the drain pipe causing ...continued on page 37
32 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
Hiring the right plumber is critical, but hiring the right team is everything. That’s why we’ll do it for you. Alaka‘i Mechanical is here to provide a one-stop shop or all your re-piping needs. No matter what your needs are, Alaka‘i All-Inclusive will handle every aspect of the job seamlessly from start to finish – with one contact providing quality execution, courteous and professional service.
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
When It’s Time for a Repipe Capital improvement projects are worth the investment
oes the idea of a capital improvement project for your condominium give your AOAO anxiety? Does your AOAO continue to put off capital improvement projects because they don’t know how to start the process, are unsure how the financing works or, most importantly, are they concerned about the long-term value and return on investment? Prioritizing what needs work at your property can be a complex task, especially if you are dealing with competing priorities. Is it more urgent to replace the roof, upgrade the lighting in the parking garage, repair the elevator, fix spalling issues, resurface the pool or address potentially out-of-sight, out-ofmind projects like pipe replacement? All of these projects carry different costs and yield a different return on investment. Some issues can remain unaddressed without causing undue damage down the line while others continue to generate higher risk the longer they are left untreated. Unfortunately, most AOAOs and managers forget about their pipes because pipe repair seems like an easy enough fix as part of the overall maintenance budget. And let’s face it, replacing pipes isn’t nearly as “sexy” as a newly resurfaced pool or renovated lobby. But here’s the rub when deciding how or when to choose which projects to tackle this year: If you have leaking pipes, the problem will not get better through patchwork repairs. Your maintenance costs will continue to increase, insurance claims will rise, time spent managing angry residents and overworked staff will grow, and your leaks will continue to get worse and worse. And plumbing leaks are rarely an iso-
lated problem. They typically indicate a much more systemic issue throughout the property. So simply choosing to repair instead of replacing can quickly escalate into a game of “whack-amole.” It’s one you can never win. Planning for and investing in a capital improvement project, such as a repipe, does not have to be a huge headache. One of the first steps is to think ahead. Try to predict as best as you can, based on your building’s age and the useful life of your systems, the projects and work that will need to be completed in six months, one year, five years, or longer. Knowing what’s in your building, when it was installed and how it is aging are critical points of knowledge in evaluating how long you may have before needing to repair or replace your pipes. If you have a Hawaii condo built in the 1960s or 1970s with cast-iron piping, you need to start planning and reserving now, even if you aren’t experiencing any leaks. Reserve studies frequently exclude pipe replacement, and if it is included they vary widely on what it may cost. In the case of a full-system repipe, starting to reserve 10–20 years ahead should not be out of the question. But even with an assessment and careful planning, knowing when to pull the trigger on a large capital improvement project can be difficult. Answering critical questions about the timing of other maintenance projects and community investments, the impact of increased annual dues or a special assessment on unit owners and your ability to take out a loan to fund the project all weigh into the decision of when you need to take action. Likewise, knowingly waiting on
34 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
certain projects, like pipe replacement, may violate a board’s fiduciary responsibilities to maintain the building, resulting in residents suing their board for everything from leak damage costs to reduced property values when they try to sell. For a solid return on investment, pipe replacement is one of the best capital improvement projects your community can undertake. Some of the specific benefits include the following: • Your insurance bills will go down. Many AOAOs repipe when their deductible is $25,000 to $30,000 per incident. After a repipe, that deductible is dramatically reduced to $3,000 to $5,000. • The overall repair costs decline because you are no longer managing incident by incident and repairing water damage. • You will be paying your building staff less overtime because they will no longer be managing middle-of-thenight plumbing issues or multiple leaks at once. • Your owner and resident satisfaction will dramatically increase and building reputation will go up. • Resale values will go up. Knowing that an older building has already undertaken a pipe replacement project makes that condominium go up in value. Prospective buyers will appreciate not having to worry about their pipes leaking, and brand-new pipes have a solid warranty in addition to a 40-50year life span. ❖ Eric Lecky is an executive vice president with SageWater. Since 1988, SageWater has successfully replaced more than 35 million feet of pipe in over 100,000 occupied residences. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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CO NTRIBUTORS | PAINTING
The Best Time for a Big Project
The pandemic shutdown offers a sort of silver lining for property managers who have been deferring work
Enoch Leung/Wikimedia Commons
veryone has been impacted during the ongoing pandemic and had their carefully laid out plans disrupted. In uncertain economic times, some building owners, AOAOs and managers are prone to put off needed repair or scheduled maintenance projects until the economy shows signs of strengthening. They may hold off on required re-painting, spall repair, waterproof coating, window sealing, garage repairs, deck coating, etc., for a year or more due to uncertain financial issues. And as we had been in such a boom with peak condo and hotel occupancy numbers climbing for the past few years, many buildings have had a hard time balancing use with maintenance. It’s costly to shut down operations or offer discounts for the disruptions. This has led to some deferred maintenance, smaller phases or just addressing emergencies when they arise. While this approach may make sense in the short term, it can be more costly in the long term than a complete project. So, where’s that silver lining? The current situation presents an opportunity for getting work performed now versus when you are near full occupancy. Barricading, coordination with tenants and public access can be much easier in times of low occupancy/demand. At this time, safety may be greatly improved due to lack of pedestrians or occupants in some of our empty hotels and commercial buildings. This could make projects safer and quicker. We are doing a painting and spall repair project which became so much safer as there are no longer hordes of people underneath our scaffolding. The barriers are much
simpler for the client. We now have access to some units through the interior rather than having to hang a rig on the exterior, which is more costly. Just think of the work that could be done in parking garages at this time when there are fewer cars present. We are currently working on a hotel garage that is thrilled to have this work completed now when there are minimal disruptions to their guests and operations. Again, this time could be a very advantageous time to do work on some of our lower occupancy buildings and garages. If funding is an issue, the building owner or AOAO might consider taking out a loan to fund high-priority maintenance and repair projects. Several local Hawaii banks have lending programs specifically geared to this need. Given today’s current low interest
36 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
rates, a loan today will likely save the building owners and residents money in the longterm. Deferred maintenance is expensive! For our AOAOs that find everyone home, it may be a good time to plan for your projects. Some contractors might be concerned with their backlog due to unknown future economic impact and be willing to offer a discount if they can schedule gaps in their schedules into the future. Think positively and creatively for your property. We need to make lemonade out of the current situation. ❖ David Dunham is president of Kawika’s Painting, a licensed company that handles painting, spall repairs, roof coatings, water proofing, carpentry, walkway coatings and resinous flooring. Reach him at 848-0003 or oahu@ kawikaspainting.com.
...continued from page 32
The U.S. Composting Council has stated that a leading paper towel product biodegrades in 60 days or less. Your plumbing drain system is not going to wait 60 days or less, and there is a chance that you will experience a back-up before that time. Multi-story condominium and apartment buildings are especially at risk of drain pipe flooding due to the number of floors in the building. The situation is bad, as raw sewage would end up flooding adjacent units and travelling multiple floors down the building. Not only will you have biohazard waste but there will be secondary health and safety issues due to mold growth as a result of the flooding. A survey of 10 plumbing contractors resulted in all of them urging the public not to flush anything down the toilet except toilet paper. Keep in mind that toilets are not trash cans. Do not flush down the wrong materials. Please remember my simple message: Save your pipe, don’t flush that wipe. ❖
backups. The stronger the material, the longer the material stays in the plumbing system. Napkins and paper towels are much stronger than toilet paper, thus take longer to break down. Wipes are the worse culprit—almost like flushing a cloth baby diaper down the toilet. Why are wipes bad for your home or building’s drain pipes? The answer lies in the various components or substrates that the product is made from. Substrates are materials used to manufacture wipes. They are not secret ingredients. Specific materials used to manufacture wipes include cotton, viscose, plastic resins such as polyester (plastic fibers), polypropylene and polyethylene, rayon fibers and wood pulp. The materials used in baby wipes is a non-woven fabric similar to the type used to make disposable diapers and dryer sheets. Items that should not be flushed down the toilet include: 1. Facial tissues, paper tissues (such as Kleenex) 2. Paper napkins 3. Paper towels 4. Wipes (commonly called wipes, wet wipes, clean wipes, disinfecting wipes, feminine wipes, hand sanitizing wipes, personal wipes, cleaning wipes, moist towelettes, etc.) 5. Disposable wipes 6. D isposable diapers (baby and adult) 7. Feminine products 8. Dryer sheets The terms disposable or flushable wipes are misleading. They should not be flushed down the toilet. They may eventually biodegrade, but your drain piping system may not wait that long before clogging up.
Lance Luke is the owner of Construction Management Inspection LLC, and has been providing building inspection and construction management services for the past 40 years. Reach him at www.hawaiibuildingexpert.com or www.lanceluke.com or his blog at http://building.expert.
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CONTRIBUTORS | PAINTING
How Light Influences Color The same paint sample will look different in changing light conditions during the day
or many of us living in Hawaii, we have the frequent fortune to enjoy the colorful images of a rainbow due to our tropical island climate. We may even have memorized all seven colors by the acronym ROYGBIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Those seven are the colors on the visible light spectrum, which is the only wave that the human eye can detect. When all these colors are combined, they create white light. While white and natural light will provide the truest representation of any color, it is best to view a color sample for painting under the same lighting condition that will be applied. Natural light or sunlight affect colors in different ways throughout the day. In the morning, the light appears yellow. At noon, because the sun is farthest away from the horizon, it is bluish and cooler. In the afternoon, the light is warmer and more red. The location of a room also influences color by the way natural light fills the space. North-facing rooms look blue, making it feel cool, while south-facing rooms appear orange and warmer. East-facing and west-facing rooms both embrace a sense of warmth at sunrise and sunset with yellow and reddish light on their walls. Besides natural light, artificial lighting can affect color in a room as well. One that has been around for generations is incandescent lighting. It produces an amber light and complements warmer colors such as reds, oranges and yellows. Fluorescent light is more bluish in color and generates a cooler effect. It works better with blues and greens but dulls warmer colors.
Let’s say you have fluorescent light in a north-facing room. If you want to create an ambiance that is cooler, painting it a green or blue would work best. Likewise, painting an east-facing room with a yellow color will complement incandescent lighting for a warmer feeling. At times, however, you may want to choose a color with an opposing lighting condition. Perhaps you want to paint a room yellow under fluorescent light. In this example, you would need to tone the paint with a tinge of blue tint. This will offset the warm yellow color and achieve the coolness of the fluorescent lighting. When lighting conditions in a room are limited, color and gloss level can influence the way in which remaining light is distributed throughout the
38 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
space. Light reflectance value (LRV) is the amount of light that a paint color reflects. It is measured on a scale from 0% to 100%, with 0 being “absolute black” (all light absorbed) and 100 being “pure white” (all light reflected). For most colors, however, the range would typically fall between 5% and 85%. Lighter paint colors have higher LRVs compared to darker colors, as more light is reflected than absorbed. When looking for the light reflectance value, it can be found on a color swatch, in the index of a color fan deck, or on the paint manufacturer’s website. Gloss level is a measurement in which light is deflected off a surface from a 60-degree angle and measured on a scale from 0 to 100 units. Depending upon the paint manufacturer, the levels are usually flat, eggshell, satin,
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semi-gloss and gloss. Typically, the higher the gloss, the higher the light reflectance value. If you are planning to paint a space where lighting is limited, you may want to use a semi-gloss paint to maximize the light reflectance. Just keep in mind that the higher gloss will emphasize any surface imperfections that you may have. As you decide on the paint and color choices for your next painting project, a few key factors to remember are lighting, light reflectance value and gloss level. As more people have transitioned their homes into a functional
workspace over the past few months, the need to create a positive and invigorating environment remains crucial to its success. Color does have the power to increase energy, stimulate motivation and continue to keep us engaged in whatever tasks set before us. ❖ Sheldon Ibara is business development manager for JD Painting & Decorating. He has worked in both sales and operations in the paint industry since 1998. Reach him at 841-7100 or email@example.com.
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CONTRIBUTORS | PAINTING
Exterior Paint Solutions: The First Line of Defense
Hawaii’s sun, salt and rain create a harsh environment for a building’s paint, requiring regular maintenance
xterior painting is a decision all property owners will sooner or later need to address to maintain the property’s value. Paint is the first line of defense protecting the exterior surfaces from the harsh elements while also adding aesthetic curb appeal value. Hawaii’s rigorous climate with its high U.V. levels within a marine environment demands a high degree of protection. Choosing a high-quality premium paint will typically yield a paint life- cycle of around seven to 10 years. Exterior paint is constantly deteriorating through the process of weathering, but in a program of regular maintenance—assuming all other building properties are functioning properly—the surface preparation for a new finish coat can be limited to minor repairs and cleaning. Unfortunately,
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if the paint film has gone beyond its life cycle and surfaces have not been maintained, surface preparation will become more detailed and will most likely increase the cost of a painting project. As a specification writer, my objective is to identify for building owners and managers the requirements for surface preparation, coating application, the materials to be applied and the expectations for quality control and documentation. Typically, a meeting is scheduled with the property owner or manager to discuss subjects such as existing problems, color changes, scheduling and other maintenance issues. A property site inspection is then scheduled and a draft specification would follow for review. The final specification is then issued to the property owner/manager to be used as a basis for proposals. The property inspection along with the maintenance history is the basis for the specification. There are common problems to expect from weathering and exposure to the elements, such as environmental grime and organic matter that tends to cling to painted surfaces. Accessing the existing surface is critical for the success of the painting project. Some conditions are easily identified while others are hidden, only to be discovered during the paint application. Here are four trouble areas that may be problematic if not addressed properly.
Too many layers of paint Excessive layers of paint may appear sound and adequately adhered to the substrate prior to repainting, but problems can arise once the new coating is applied. The most common are lifting, blistering or peeling. When this problem occurs, the easiest target is to blame the new paint finish as being the culprit, but it could be the result of too many layers of paint. There is a limit to the number of coats of paint that a surface can support. As paint thickness builds from past maintenance cycles, the film is no longer flexible. This could lead to problems when the substrate expands and contracts but the paint film is no longer flexible to move with the surface. Cracking or flaking of the coating usually results. When a new coat of paint is applied, it shrinks during the curing process, exerting stress on the existing film. If the existing finish has weak points such as cracks or voids, this stress will cause the poorly adhered layer underneath to lift, resulting in blistering or peeling. An adhesion test can help to discover these vulnerable sections. Unfortunately, the solution would be to strip the surface.
Deteriorated sealants Peeling, flaking and blistering paint is a common failure for aged coatings. Typically, these conditions are located near windows, fascia and/or joint sections. Peeling around windows and wood frames can often be traced back to deteriorated caulking. Moisture is seeping behind and under the frames, causing the wood to expand and contract from the heat of the sun and the moisture exposure. Eventually the paint will start cracking and will eventually peel and flake. Inspecting joint sealants at problem areas is a good first step to addressing the peeling problem.
Concrete spall Concrete spalling is not a paint problem, but it will affect the paint’s protective properties since the concrete cracks and voids expose the substrate. If the owner’s desire is to include concrete spall repairs in the specifica-
LAYERS OF PAINT
tion, then a section can be added. Spall repairs can be difficult to evaluate with a visual inspection, so these repairs are typically estimated at a unit cost. If the property has not set aside enough funds for major spall repairs, it should decide the limits before the project begins so there are no misunderstandings. Note that if the damage appears to be structural, we advise consulting a qualified engineer for evaluation.
Blisters Isolated blisters on a building can be the result of other building problems, including a leaky roof, deteriorated vertical joint sealants or concrete spall. It can also result from objects on a building, such as an air conditioner where its drain line has been clogged. Most blisters are caused by trapped water vapor trying to escape. Exterior paints are formulated to “breathe,” that is to allow small amounts of water vapor back and forth. If the coating is too thick, water vapor is unable to pass, therefore resulting in a blister. Excessive water due to other building problems such as the ones mentioned above
will also blister due to too much water between the film and the substrate. During my inspections I look for existing problem areas because these problems will probably reoccur if not corrected or maintained. Often the owners are unaware of the gradual deterioration of the paint film, only to discover it later when the surface reveals the problem. My role as the specification writer and paint supplier is to identify and prescribe the best paint solution for the property and to continually monitor the job as it progresses. A good working team involves the property manager, owner, contractor and the specification writer all working together towards a successful painting project. ❖ Joni McGinnis is with Ameritone Maui in Kahului. She has 29 years in the paint and coating industry, including specification writing, consulting, inspections, problem calls and assessment reports. Multi-certified, she specializes in high-performance coatings and their application. Reach her at 871-7734 or email@example.com.
CONTRIBUTORS | PAINTING
Important COVID-19 Safety Considerations when Hiring a Painting Contractor
ue to COVID-19, painting contractors have needed to look at their work procedures and develop new safety protocols. Some companies have developed and implemented an exposure-control plan to provide guidance in the protection of workers, including proactive steps and measures for implementation in an effort to protect all parties involved. As a building owner and/or manager, it is especially important that you require your painting contractor to have such a plan in place before work commences. The plan may address the following measures to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the workplace: • Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection • Action steps • Limiting the spread of infection in the workplace • Reducing transmission among employees • Protecting employees with personal protective equipment • Supervising protective measures • Evaluating employee health status • Implementing hazard control measures • Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection • Sanitizing the work area after possible exposure • Maintaining medical information • Recordkeeping • Training
Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection Prior to work each day, employees must perform a health status evaluation to determine if they are able to come to work. Employees need to
meeting before starting work will help in maintaining these protocols.
Sanitizing the Work Area After Possible Exposure
check their temperatures and determine if they have any of the following symptoms: cough, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath. Also, determine if they have been in direct contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or have traveled off island within the last 14 days. Answer yes to any of the above and they are denied access to work. Supervisors and workers are trained to detect the signs and symptoms of a serious infection and to seek immediate medical attention.
Employee Exposure-control Plan Companies should be informing their workers of the risks oft COVID-19 exposure and provide training on the steps for enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and sanitation (hand-washing) protocols. Employees should have their temperatures checked and be provided with personal protection equipment (mask, gloves, face shield) to reduce the spread of disease. Workers should also be maintaining a distance of six feet apart to limit possible exposure. A daily
42 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
In the event that a worker is confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, the work area will need to be sanitized to prevent the spread of disease. A disinfectant can be used on all common areas that may have been used by the infected person. Airless spray equipment has been developed and is now available to sanitize and disinfect various surfaces.
Construction Industry Comes Together for Public Safety Construction companies, trade organizations and labor unions also have developed new plans and protocols for safely continuing their work. The General Contractors Association of Hawaii’s COVID-19 Task Force has developed “The Commitment of the Hawaii Construction Industry: Our Pledge to Avoid the Spread of COVID-19 on Hawaii Construction Sites.” PDCA of Hawaii and its members have joined with our other construction industry partners to lend its support. ❖ Dean Nagatoshi is executive director of the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii. PDCA Hawaii membership includes active unionized painting, decorating, waterproofing and industrial coating contractors, associate manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and dealers and affiliate contractors. Reach him at 479-6825 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.pdcahawaii.org.
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CONTRIBUTORS | RAILINGS
When Is It Time to Replace Your Guardrails?
Technology has improved railings, but they can still fail
uardrails play a critical role in a building’s life safety. They can be seen all over town on walkways and lanais of multi-story buildings, in place to prevent accidental falls, where there is a fall hazard greater than 30 feet. It is typically building management and AOAO responsibility to perform regular inspections of the railing.
What to look for Most hotels and condominiums in Hawaii were built in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Many of their railing systems are now coming due for replacement. Structural and code compliance issues are the key to determining whether or not railings can be considered safe when inspecting
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44 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
railings. For building managers and AOAOs to determine if their railings are due for replacement, it is helpful to understand the materials that the railings are made of and what elements to look for in regards to code compliance. Steel railings Structural issues are quite common with old railings after spending decades exposed to the Hawaiian climate. With steel railings, the most common issues seen are corrosion of the metal itself. Steel railings from the ’60s and ’70s were factory welded, painted and embedded into concrete walkways and decks. The applied paint helps to isolate the steel from the salty rainwater, but once the paint gets damaged or water penetrates through the coating, corrosion of the steel begins immediately. As the corroding steel expands, cracks form on the paint and in the concrete where the railing posts are embedded, eventually making the posts loose and unsafe. Railing corrosion also causes serious issues in the concrete walkways and decks, as water sneaks into the cracks caused by the expanding steel, causing corrosion of the rebar in the concrete (spalling). Aluminum railings The majority of railings installed in the 1970s and ’80s were anodized aluminum. Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a durable, corrosion-resistant anodic oxide finish. Anodized aluminum has excellent corrosion resistance—it can be exposed to rain for decades with almost no effect on the integrity of the material. However, anodized aluminum railings from ’70s and ’80s are also showing signs of corrosion, despite the premium metal. The reason for this is anodized aluminum railings have mechanical connections—instead of being welded, they are assembled with fasteners. The fasteners used in the past were typically made of poor-quality steel, which can corrode, especially in the Hawaiian climate. Corroded steel fasteners can break without warning, making the whole railing system unsafe. Nowadays, aluminum railing systems are fastened with stainless steel screws. The fasteners are coated with torque-resistive nickel primer and zinc-rich aluminum topcoat at the factory. The combination of high-quality steel and additional coating provides excellent corrosion resistance. Aluminum also reacts with the alkalis found in Portland cement concrete. Old aluminum railings commonly show significant corrosion at their post base, resulting in the expansion of the metal, causing cracks and spalling in the concrete just like with steel railings. With new aluminum
railings, direct contact is avoided with the use of alkali-free materials, such as epoxy, to isolate the aluminum from the concrete. Code compliance Old railings in town were commonly built to be 36 inches tall, which has since proven to be insufficient. Current building codes mandate all guardrails to be at least 42 inches tall, in some cases up to 48 inches. Furthermore, the openings in the railing system in the past were allowed to be as large as five to six inches between railing components. In the current building code, the four-inch rule applies: No opening on a guardrail system should
be large enough for a four-inch sphere to pass through. This rule was created to prevent small children and objects from falling through the railings. A couple things to keep in mind: Newly installed railings must meet current building code requirements and new railing systems may not match the existing railing system. And all new railing installations require site-specific engineering and a building permit. It is important to pay close attention to these details and act quickly if the guardrails show signs of failure. When in doubt, make sure to consult with a professional to assess the existing
railings to verify if the railings are due for replacement. â?– Abel Libisch, an architect, is project engineer at Elite Railings & Windows, a respected supplier and installer of aluminum railings and windows for condominium and commercial installations. Working alongside architects, engineers and consultants helps the company remain at the forefront of technology by utilizing state-of-the-art products, material and techniques available for all types of railing and window installations. Reach Elite Railings & Windows at 842-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Budgeting During the COVID-19 Pandemic Planning—and paying—for 2021 is complicated with many condo owners out of work
n August and September, many condominium boards of directors will begin working on their 2021 budget, which needs to be approved before November 30—so that notice of any annual increase in maintenance fee can be provided to unit owners in the association at least 30 days prior to the effective date of increase, Jan. 1, 2021. The challenge for condominium boards this year will be to develop and approve a 2021 budget after experiencing at least three and a half months—or longer in some cases—of an economic shutdown due to COVID-19 emergency orders and the uncertainty of how that economic shutdown will impact the unit owners’ ability to pay any substantial increase in maintenance fees. For many associations, the fallout from the COVID-19 emergency orders may not become known for months because the local economy has just begun to open as of June 1, and no one knows how quickly the public will begin to shop at malls, dine at restaurants, go to movies, patronize bars, work out at gyms or fitness centers, get haircuts or tattoos, or travel inter-island. Moreover, right now we don’t know when trans-Pacific travel will be allowed to occur so that unit owners who are part of the tourism industry can return to work and begin earning wages. The budgeting process will determine the maintenance fees that will be paid to the association by unit owners in 2021. The process includes determining operating expenses, i.e., the expense to administer the day-to-day operations of the condominium, which include employee compensation and
benefits, contracts for out-sourcing services such as landscaping, security guards, site management, property management, insurance coverage for fire, liability, officer and directors liability, common electricity and water and sewer, repairs and maintenance. Due to wages continuing to rise and thereby affecting the cost of goods and services, it is unlikely that operating expenses can or will be less than what was spent in 2020.
For many associations, the fallout from the COVID-19 emergency orders may not become known for months because the local economy has just begun to open as of June 1. The budgeting process also includes establishing and funding building reserves for long-term projects that are not re-occurring—replacement of plumbing, elevator upgrades, spall repairs and painting, roofing repairs and replacement. As buildings age, these projects, which are generally very costly, need to be addressed and funding has to be planned and implemented so as avoid special assessments to owners to make up the shortfall. If a special assessment needs to be implemented, the
46 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
association should contact association counsel for instructions as to how to impose and collect that assessment. Condominium associations are facing challenges from many fronts. Many were built in the 1970s or earlier and face a multitude of repairs that will be expensive and time consuming due to the age of their buildings. For example, spall repairs and painting, replacement of plumbing, repairing or replacing roofing, repairing or replacing asphalt on parking lots, submetering of electricity, upgrading elevators. Add to that, as a result of Ordinance 18-14 that was passed on May 3, 2018, all high-rise residential buildings on Oahu unless exempt will have to complete a Life Safety Evaluation Evaluation (“LSE”) by May 3, 2021 and have to be in compliance (i.e., do repairs to get a passing score in their LSE) by May 3, 2024. Further, because unit owners may have been affected by COVID-19 economic shutdowns, some associations may not be able to raise sufficient funds to pay for 2021 operating expenses and set aside sufficient reserves to address the repairs required to get a passing score on their LSE by May 3, 2024. Accordingly, I suggest that condo boards review their reserve studies and, if they have not had one done in the last year or two, that they update their reserve study and meet with their reserve expert to discuss how they can pay for 2021 operating expenses and comply with Ordinance 18-14. ❖ Jane Sugimura is a Honolulu attorney specializing in condo law. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding Condo Insurance What condominium boards and owners need to know about insuring their property policies can either be a condominium homeowner’s policy covering a unit that an insured resides in, or a condominium rental unit policy that an insured may rent out.
Condominium association policies:
This is the first article of a two-part series on condominium policies. In this part, we outline the four main types of policies that apply to most condominium associations. In next month’s article, we will discuss how these types of policies and their coverages collectively apply when a condominium building loss occurs and explain why cooperation and coordination by the association, unit owners, and their carriers are key to having claims run smoothly and efficiently in order to return damaged building property back to pre-loss conditions.
awaii residential communities are composed of numerous condominium associations and the state is seeing the development of many newer condominium projects which are expected to be completed within the next few years. Whether you are a condominium association board member, individual unit owner or renter, obtaining appropriate insurance is important to protect you financially from losses.
What are the types of condominium policies and what do they cover? Condominium unit insurance for individual units is not required by law in Hawaii. However, a mortgage company may require that an owner hold insurance on the condominium unit for the duration of the loan. The governing documents of the condominium association may also require that individual unit owners procure insurance that specifically covers their residential unit, or rental operations of the unit if the unit is leased out to other parties, for losses not covered under the condominium association policy. In general, the condominium association policy, commonly referred to as the “master policy, ”covers the building structure, common areas, and original “as built” individual unit construction versus an individual condominium unit policy that covers “as built” building property, building improvements, and personal property of the unit owner. Individual condominium unit owner
Building Coverage • Covers building property damage due to direct physical loss or specific perils to the structure, common areas, and usually the original “as built” individual unit building construction. • Provisions include duties to mitigate damages and promptly notify the carrier of a loss that may be covered by insurance. • Most policies deem the condominium association building coverage primary over individual unit owner policies for insurance covering the same loss. • Most condominium associations carry large deductibles that may be assessed against unit owners after a covered building loss occurs and after the master policy claim is filed. • Condominium association policies will cover building damage as defined under the policies due to direct physical loss or named perils regardless of the loss origin subject to applicable exclusions. • Establishing liability on the condominium association or individual unit owners is not necessary to invoke building damage coverage under the master policy. The cause of loss and resulting damage need only meet the insuring agreements of the master policy in order to extend the master policy building coverage. Business Personal Property Damage
• Covers business personal property owned by the condominium association for losses due to specific perils or direct physical loss. Liability Coverage • Provides coverage for defense and indemnification for property damage and bodily injury that the condominium association may be responsible for due to negligent acts arising from the association’s operations or occurring on its property. • Some policies may deem the property manager of the association an insured under the liability coverage.
Condominium homeowners policies: Building Coverage • Covers building property damage due to direct physical loss or specific perils of the individual unit. • Coverage includes building damage to original “as built” construction of the unit and improved building property and design. • Most unit owner policies deem building damage covered under this individual policy as excess coverage for the same building losses covered under the condominium association policy. • Provisions include duties to mitigate damages and promptly notify the carrier of a loss that may be covered by insurance. Loss Assessment/Deductible Assessment Coverage • Covers condominium association deductible assessments against individual unit owners for losses claimed under the master policy building coverage. • The loss assessment/deductible assessment coverage may be a stand-alone coverage under the policy or coverage included in the Building Coverage. Additional Living Expenses • Covers increased lodging or meal expenses due to displacement caused by a covered building damage loss. • Coverage may be applicable for temporary displacement due to mitigation if those services renders the condominium unit uninhabitable, and during the period of restoration if the unit cannot
be occupied while being repaired. Personal Property Coverage • Covers personal property owned by the insured for losses due to specific perils or direct physical loss. Liability Coverage • Provides coverage for defense and indemnification for property damage and bodily injury that an insured may be responsible for due to negligent acts. The liability claims do not need to specifically arise from the use or occupancy of the unit in order to be covered.
Condominium rental unit owners policies: Building Coverage • Covers building property damage due to direct physical loss or specific perils of the individual rental unit. • Coverage includes building damage to original “as built” construction of the unit and improved building property and design. • Most rental unit owner policies deem building damage covered under this individual policy as excess coverage for the same building losses covered under the condominium association policy. • Provisions include duties to mitigate damages and promptly notify the carrier of a loss that may be covered by insurance. Loss Assessment/Deductible Assessment Coverage • Covers condominium association deductible assessments against rental unit owners for losses claimed under the master policy building coverage. • The loss assessment/deductible assessment coverage may be a s tand-alone coverage under the policy or coverage included in the Building Coverage. Loss of Rents • Covers loss of rental income when a unit is rendered uninhabitable due to a covered building damage loss. • Coverage may be applicable for temporary displacement of renters due to mitigation if those services render the condominium rental unit uninhabitable, and during the period of restoration if the rental unit cannot be occupied while being repaired.
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Business Personal Property Coverage • Covers business personal property owned by the rental unit owner included in the rental of the unit for losses due to specific perils or direct physical loss. Liability Coverage • Provides coverage for defense and indemnification for property damage and bodily injury that an insured may be responsible for due to negligent acts arising from the use or business operations of the rental unit or occurring on the rental premises. • Some policies may deem the rental property manager of the rental unit an insured under the liability coverage.
Renters policies: Additional Living Expenses • Covers increased lodging or meal expenses due to displacement caused by a covered building damage loss. • Coverage may be applicable for temporary displacement due to mitigation if those services renders the condominium unit uninhabitable, and during the period of restoration if the unit cannot be occupied while being repaired. Personal Property Coverage • Covers personal property owned by the insured for losses due to specific perils or direct physical loss. Liability Coverage • Provides coverage for defense and indemnification for property damage or bodily injury that an insured may be responsible for due to negligent acts. The liability claims do not need to specifically arise from the use or occupancy of the rented unit in order to be covered. This information is for educational and informational purposes only. Associations and owners should always check with insurance professionals regarding insurance and coverage. ❖ Carole R. Richelieu is the senior condo specialist in the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ real estate branch. Contact her office at 586-2644 or go to hawaii.gov/hirec.
Virus Hits Condo Sales Again As expected, the no-longer-new coronavirus hit sales of Hawaii condos even harder in May than in April, compared to those same months a year earlier. On Oahu, sales volume compared to May 2019 fell 51.2%, from 520 to 245. The median price also dropped, though not as precipitously, 4.4%, from $417,500 a year ago to $399,000. On the Big Island, condo sales plummeted 63%, to 29 in May from 79 a year earlier. The median price dropped 15%, to $319,000 from $375,000. On Kauai, the number of condo sales dropped 47%, to 26 from 49 a year earlier. The median price fell 37%, to $367,500 from $580,000. Industry leaders attribute the statewide fall to several factors related to the global pandemic: stay-at-home orders on each of the Islands, thousands of Hawaii workers suddenly unemployed, social distancing rules that shut down open houses except by appointment and some would-be sellers simply not wanting strangers potentially bringing germs into their home. But better times could be ahead, with state and county governments moving to re-open more businesses and activities, including the state allowing open houses again as of June 5, with social-distancing and sanitizing protocols in effect. The median is the price point at which half of condos sold for more and half for less. Sources include the Honolulu Board of Realtors, Kauai Board of Realtors, Realtors Association of Maui and Hawaii Island Realtors. ❖
Kanter Taking Over Expo Change is afoot for the big Hawaii Buildings, Facilities and Property Management Expo. Ken Kanter, who since the launch of the Expo in March of 2008 by Douglas Trade Shows has served as exposition director through his company Creative Service Associates, announced last month that he will now be producing the Expo. “I will continue as the exposition director and Nicole Noda-Muth, my assistant for the past nine years, will continue as exhibitor services manager,” Kanter said in Ken Kanter a release. The 2021 Expo is tentatively scheduled for March 10-11 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. The 2020 Expo, which closed March 12, was one of the last big public events before Honolulu went into lockdown because of the coronavirus scare. Kanter notes that the Blaisdell Center plans to open soon for small gatherings, but health-safety and social-distancing guidelines for large events are still being determined. Past exhibitors will be updated via email. For more information: 781-5438 or email@example.com. ❖
Re-opening Condo Amenities Notes from IREM’s well-attended webinar BY DON CHAPMAN With large public gatherings banned by the coronavirus shutdown, educational events for building managers and board members have been curtailed. But that didn’t stop IREM from hosting a webinar, “COVID: A Call to ARMS.” Veteran building managers Duane Komine, Davie Felipe and Jose Dominguez led the well-attended June 2 session via Zoom, moderated by Laurel Kagimoto of IREM. “The last two months have been a tremendous learning opportunity,” said Komine, the ever-optimistic general manager at Hokua. The first topic of discussion was re-opening amenities to residents. Preparation and following government Phase 2 standards are key to re-opening, said Dominguez, general manager at Keauhou Place. And that starts, Komine said, with “showing force in cleaning.” When residents see effort being put into sanitizing common areas—pressure-washing the pool deck, for example—it gives them a “sense of cleanliness” and will make them feel more relaxed. Preparation includes creating social distancing spaces on pool decks by removing chairs and limiting the number of people using any one area. “And you have to make reservations mandatory” for all amenities, Dominguez said, “pool, barbecue, gym.” Felipe, general manager at Anaha, agreed and also sug-
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Jose Dominguez www.tradepublishing.com/building-management-hawaii 49
CORNER PDCA Members Donate Materials, Labor to Oahu Veterans Center
Manuel Ramiscal and Kurt Nozaki of JD Painting and Decorating get to work
From left: Dean Nagatoshi (PDCA Hawaii executive director), Brandon Puckett (PPG Paints), Jaime Dominguez (president JD Painting and Decorating), Michael Moorehead (PPG Paints), Claire Levinson (OVC executive director), Ron Wright (Oahu Veterans Center Council member, USMC veteran), Vanessa Zimmerman (OVC office assistant), Brian Sakai (First Hawaiian Bank and member of OVC), Gary Chamberlin (first vice president of OVC Council and Air Force veteran)
The Oahu Veterans Center is home to the Oahu Veterans Council, which comprises nearly 50 different veteran services organizations on Oahu that support, honor and advocate for our veterans in the community. Like just about everything else in Hawaii, the hall had to close its doors for the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving nowhere for veterans to congregate for trainings, seminars, meetings and other activities. Taking advantage of this situation,
Claire Levinson, executive director of the Oahu Veterans Center, reached out to the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association (PDCA) of Hawaii about undertaking a community service project to rehabilitate the meeting hall’s interiors with a fresh coat of paint to do something positive for veterans during the lockdown period. Nearly 50 gallons of paint was donated by PPG Paint’s Honolulu office, with JD Painting and Decorating suppling a crew of painters over the course of several days to complete the painting project. ❖
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gested establishing time limits for the use of each amenity, and cleaning between guest visits. Dominguez suggested limiting barbecue areas to residents only. Likewise, tape has been placed on every other workout machine in the gym to identify them as off-limits. “And we have so many hand-sanitizing stations, people think I’m working for Purell,” Dominguez said. Hokua was taking a different approach, Komine said, and would wait until the city allowed all gyms to open. All of this, Felipe said, requires specific staff training. Indoor air quality also came up. It’s crucial for both physical and emotional health, the trio agreed. “It’s mostly servicing,” said Felipe, “with regular testing and monitoring.” Felipe said he came up with the idea of asking residents to sign a disclaimer of liability. “I borrowed the idea from 50 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | JULY 2020
Disney,” he said. Anaha’s board and attorney agreed with the final wording. “We already have something like that in our house rules,” said Dominguez, “but we need more now.” As for the sometimes divisive issue of face masks, Felipe said, “You can ask. It’s not mandatory. I just think it’s doing the right thing as a community.” “It all comes down,” added Dominguez, “to residents acting responsibly.” As governments continue to open more aspects of the economy, and more visitors come from outside Hawaii, it’s important to remain diligent. “It just takes one person,” Komine said, “to mess everything up.” For more suggestions from IREM on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis: irem.org/pandemic-guide. ❖
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