CHANGING HOLIDAY TRADITIONS » MEET A MANAGER: RANDY AHLO » BOARDS ACTING BADLY
NOVEMBER 2020 | $5.00
Workers We Have Seen on High One Waterfront Towers replaces a unique gantry system that makes it possible for painters and window cleaners to safely go over the edge Pictured is Branden Mina of Bergeman Group
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EDITOR’S DESK |
A Time for Gratitude
Mailed and Distributed on the 10th of Every Month
I’m not a glass-is-half-full kind of guy. I’m a glass-is-half-full-of-wine-and-I’m-about-ready-to-start-sipping-the-restof-it guy. Yes, I tend to be an optimist: Life is good and often better. So the Thanksgiving holiday is one of my favorites, a celebration of reasons for optimism. But Thanksgiving is complicated this year, like just about everything else. Still, I’ve been thinking of things I’m thankful for as 2020 draws to a blessed close. The list is long. But so is the list of sadnesses seen and losses endured, and I don’t want my gratitude to seem like a gloat. This year, though, more than ever, it seems important to acknowlege the good things and good people that have come my way, just as a balancing act. I gave up preaching when I left a seminary many years ago, but may I suggest that this is the time to remind yourself of all that is good and right in your world. For me, it’s family, friends, living in Hawaii and satisfying work that brings me into associations with so many great people in the vital building management industry. And health. In a year that has been so unhealthy for so many, health is perhaps the greatest blessing. Happy Thanksgiving! ❖
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contents November 2020 | Volume 36 | No. 11
FEATURED 4 — Editor’s Desk A time for gratitude
8 — BMH Asks Changing holiday traditions 11 — Grounds for Praise Alberto Derepite turns Kaimana Lanais into an urban oasis
PLUMBING 22 — David Lord The basics of distributing hot water in a high-rise
14 — Projects Rooftop work at One Waterfront Towers is a project like no other
26 — Eric Lecky Four simple steps to get a clear picture of your pipes
18 — Meet a Manager A musical career led Randy Ahlo to the hospitality industry, which led to the Waikiki Shore condominium
42 — Jane Sugimura: Legal Matters Boards acting badly is bad news for everyone
32 — Ken Kasdan, Brittany Grunau, J. Scott Friesen HVAC’s vital role in the age of COVID-19
44 — Carole Richelieu: All Things Condo What exactly is fiduciary duty, and why you should care 45 — Community Corner Condo living grows in popularity; Zooming to a board meeting
30 — Katie Ranney Modern solutions for modern conflicts
36 — Na Lan When the neighbor’s dog is not a pet
RESTORATION 38 — Anthony Nelson Managing emotions in times of crisis 40 — Glenna Maras Upholding a high standard for cleanliness
11 Copyright 2020 with all rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Building Management Hawaii is published on the eighth day of each month by Trade Publishing Limited, with offices at 287 Mokauea, Honolulu HI 96819. Unsolicited materials must be accompanied by self-addressed, stamped return envelope. Publisher reserves the right to edit or otherwise modify all materials and assumes no responsibility for items lost or misplaced during production. Content within this publications is not to be construed as
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Santa’s helpers at Waihonua: (left to right) Malama Advisors Arthur, Ellis, Reno, GM Kathy Best, David, Pui
BMH Asks: Holiday Traditions committee will walk the neighborhood Keven Whalen, on a selected night and vote on the Vice President, best decorations. Prizes will be distribTouchstone uted to the top three. Pictures of the best displays will be featured in their Properties newsletter. How will Keven Whalen Which traditions will continue COVID-19 alter this year? It’s important that we the way your not forget about the building staff this building celebrates Thanksgivholiday season. Most building staff are ing-Christmas-New Year seasons? A few of the associations I man- essential employees and have continued age are rethinking their holiday party plans this year. It is unlikely we will see the traditional parties that historically include food, drinks and entertainment. So in a year with such disruption, it’s time to get creative. How? My suggestion is holiday decorations. If we can’t get together in person for a party, let’s make sure our buildings improve on the holiday atmosphere this year. One of my townhome associations will be reallocating their party budget to host a holiday decorating contest. A
to work through the pandemic. Their annual holiday party is often a highlight of the year. Some associations utilize their holiday parties to recognize staff achievements and reflect on accomplishments. One of my building managers is planning a Zoom holiday party for the staff. We are still in the planning stages but current plans include take-out dinner for each employee and their family. Dinner will be had over Zoom where the building manager will announce annual achievement awards.
8 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
What is your holiday message for your residents? I want to send wishes of joy and especially good health this holiday season.
Kathy Lau Best, General Manager, Waihonua at Kewalo How will COVID-19 alter the way your Kathy Lau Best building celebrates Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year seasons? Due to the current mayor’s orders for no “social gatherings,” we will not have our annual Waihonua Holiday Reception of more than 100 residents gathering around the Christmas tree this year.
Staff set up Waihonua's Thanksgiving cornucopia
However, I’m still hopeful we can have a virtual celebration with holiday caroling, lucky number giveaways to support our neighboring shops and restaurants … and to toast in the New Year via Zoom or another venue.
Which traditions will continue this year? Our traditional Thanksgiving cornucopia is currently on display in the Lobby and Santa’s helpers (wearing masks, of course) have been busy preparing holiday decorations to make sure our Lobby and 12-foot Christmas tree will be ready to bring holiday cheer to all. Some fun surprises and ornaments are being created for this year’s Hawaiian-themed Christmas tree and we plan to have it displayed early for lots of photo-taking opportunities. Hundreds of lights will be sparkling in the Lobby, recreation deck, landscaped areas and our exterior beacon light will shine with Christmas 2019 at Waihonua
various colors of the season to brighten everyone’s spirits through the end of 2020 and moving forward into 2021. As our staff continues to be extra busy keeping up with cleaning, disinfecting and monitoring protocols to keep our building and amenities fully operational and safe for residents during the pandemic, we need to still make time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and holiday traditions that bring us joy and a sense of “normalcy” during these uncertain times. Now more than ever, it is important to take care of our residents’ and employees’ physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. A happy and cheerful home and preparing for the holidays helps.
What is your holiday message for your residents? As we bid aloha to this unprecedented, unexpected, unpredictable and crazy COVID-19 year, my wish and prayer is that the spirit of joy, peace and love will find its way into your home and fill your hearts with hope this holiday season. May the New Year bring us vaccines and treatments that will help us through this pandemic so that we can see each other’s beautiful smiles, share hugs, enjoy potlucks and start visiting and traveling again. Let’s find the silver lining and blessings wherever this journey of life takes us. All the best in 2021.
brations that will need to be placed on hold, due to our rules on non-resident use of all amenity areas. The pandemic sure transformed how we operate and created a whole new set of guidelines for us to manage our community, even during a pandemic in a way that still allows some level of normalcy they can recognize.
Which traditions will continue this year? As for the building, we’re adjusting our Halloween Haunted House celebration so that we can keep the kids at a social distance of six feet, all the while enjoying the festivities. Decorations for Christmas will be performed by the staff with hot chocolate and pastries from Starbucks. We will hold our staff party with six-feet distance between one another with pre-packed meals instead our traditional potluck style.
Jose Roberto Dominguez, General Manager, Christmas time at Keauhou Place Keauhou Place How will What is your holiday mesCOVID-19 alter sage for your residents? Dear Keauhou Place Residents: As we enter the way your Jose Roberto Dominguez this holiday season, I want to take building celthe opportunity to say thank you for ebrates Thanksgiving-Christmaking 2020 memorable, despite the mas-New Year seasons? The plans pandemic that started back in March.
to decorate the common areas will be the same for all three holidays. The only noticeable change within the community will be how reservations are handled for the amenity areas. Our residents utilize the holidays for large gatherings and reserve the recreation room for baking parties and other cele-
We’ve all learned how to work together and make adjustments to our lives in order to keep our community safe for everyone. Many birthday, graduation, anniversary and retirement parties have been missed because of the pandemic, and it goes without saying that sacrifices have been made by all.
So as we enter the most joyous season of Christmas and New Year’s, know that we here at Keauhou Place appreciate your patience and understanding in making our community thrive, even in the face of adversity. We moved together as one and kept the best parts of living alive for all to prosper. I couldn’t do it alone and for this I want to thank my team and you, the residents of Keauhou Place, who make every day worth sharing, despite the obstacles we’ve had to endure and will continue until we are free from this pandemic. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones as you gather in front of your Christmas tree and share in all the good your life has to offer.
Duane Komine, General Manager, Hokua How will COVID-19 alter the way your building celeDuane Komine brates Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year seasons? Every year, like other properties, Hokua residents gather in the main lobby and upstairs on the terrace level. Residents participate in picture-taking, food and fellowship. With the current pandemic, these gatherings will be small or not happen at all. The Hokua management staff is brainstorming alternative ways to celebrate the holidays with residents.
Which traditions will continue this year? Not many traditions are withstanding the COVID-19 pandemic as most involve a gathering of residents and guests. Sad to say that only the décor in our common areas will be more subtle.
What is your holiday message for your residents? The holiday message for everyone this year is “Be thankful for all you have; it could be worse.”
Michael Ako, Resort General Manager, Beach Villas at Ko Olina Michael Ako How will COVID-19 alter the way your building celebrates Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year seasons? COVID-19 precautions discourage any social interaction and mingling between non-family household members and limits gatherings to no more than five, so we will not be allowing any owner potlucks or get-togethers in our common elements for these holidays until Mayor Caldwell’s emergency proclamation allows group gatherings. Families will need to celebrate within their own condo units with other household members of the condo because we are also discouraging outside guests to be on-site. The safety of our own community is of utmost
10 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
concern. Creating our own bubble enables our owners to continue to use our three pools, three spas and BBQs while practicing social distancing and wearing non-medical face masks when not in the water, and to work out in the fitness center with use of the steam room and sauna because only one villa reservation per hour is allowed, and we disinfect after every use.
Which traditions will continue this year? Holiday decorations, music system and good cheer will continue. Owners will provide an end-of-theyear holiday bonus to our employees, and our employees are working on a holiday electronic Christmas card (photo of staff and written messages) that we will send to all our owners as we celebrate in a remote and safe manner.
What is your holiday message for your residents? We wish you and your loved ones safe and happy holidays! ❖
for P R A I S E
‘The Work of Art of Nature’ Surrounded by city-scapes, Kaimana Lanais creates lush landscaping that enhances residents’ living experience BY DON CHAPMAN
Alberto Derepite tends to his greenery
Great landscaping increases a property’s curb appeal, raises property values and enhances resident satisfaction. That’s why BMH is saluting handsome horticulture in Grounds for Praise. To nominate your property, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ucked away near Iolani School, Kaimana Lanais is surrounded by cityscapes. The grounds are something else. “Strangers have stopped by my office just to compliment our landscaping, as it stands out in our neighborhood, always meticulously manicured and
lush,” says Heather Steele, general Heather Steele manager. “Our building is located on a busy corner next to two schools, a park and walking trail, so foot traffic is constant.” She gives full credit for the grounds to Alberto Derepite. “Although he is our maintenance chief, he is also our landscaper extraordinaire. He has worked here for six-plus years and truly has a green thumb. Any time one of our residents has a plant issue of their own, they know they can stop by and ask Alberto for help,” she says.
“He very comfortably wears many hats to keep our little ohana
looking beautiful.” Derepite started growing things from a young age. “I worked as a farmer in the Philippines,” he says, “planting rice, vegetables and fruit trees before immigrating to Hawaii in 2007.” His philosophy is simple. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maintaining beautiful landscape designs is essential to making sure one is never without the work of art of nature.” Kaimana Lanais opened in 1974 with 114 units and has a footprint of 22,074
for P R A I S E
square feet. Of that, approximately 6,420 square feet are landscaped. Plants include lucuba palm, false palm, garden croton, calming peace lily, gardenia, bird of paradise, snake plant, climbing fig, philodendron, compacta, plumeria and bougainvillea. On-site challenges, says Steele, include “limited space for landscape design, constant foot traffic and unsolicited elimination by neighborhood dogs whose owners do not clean up after their pets.” Derepite offers advice for other properties. “Plan landscape design with simplicity,” he says. “Elements that do not provide improvement or impact can be omitted from the design. It’s never a bad idea to start with and master the basics before moving fullsteam ahead with a lot of complicated vegetation.” And at the end of the day, says Steele, “basking in the site of great landscape design can enhance the living experience as our residents are rejuvenating, like a fresh breath of air.” ❖
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One Waterfront Towers General Manager: Atrious Alexander, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, ARM, RS Project: New gantry cranes
Workers We Have Seen on High One Waterfront Towers replaces a rooftop gantry system, and more Photo courtesy: Bergeman Group 14 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
Each tower at One Waterfront has its own gantry system. Photo: Twain Newhart Photography
When did the building open? One Waterfront Towers originally opened its doors in 1989. The unique art deco design continues to add beauty to the Honolulu skyline today. The project was originally constructed with 307 residential units and one large industrial unit that over time has been subdivided into multiple commercial units running underneath the entirety of the property.
When did you come aboard? I began as general manager of One Waterfront Towers in January 2017, and immediately upon arrival was tasked Atrious Alexander with addressing many outstanding capital improvement projects. The most visible of these projects was repairing the large gantry cranes projecting from the roofs of each tower. The distinctive original design of the towers required that specialized infrastructure be built in order to maintain them. Like all things, as time passed this mechanized infrastructure started showing its age and eventually began to fail. Rebuilding these mechanical structures on the roofs was necessary both to complete other projects, such as painting the buildings, and to continue regularly washing the curtain walls and windows. This was not, however, going to be a simple task.
What exactly is a gantry used for? It involves everything that is done on the outside of the buildings and requires access for such, including
window cleaners and painters. This is accomplished through the use of a mechanical gantry system, which is a large rolling crane with counterweights, wheels, pulleys and a swing-stage system over each roof.
What caused this project to be undertaken? The gantries were no longer working as intended and had become costly to maintain. Working around them in their existing condition was also beginning to present potential safety hazards. This required reaching out to get specialized expertise that would affect the entire property in multiple ways. Failed upkeep and deferred maintenance on the buildingâ€™s mechanical systems had culminated in a large number of problems. We needed people at the top of their game to help address this. Interviewing multiple consulting firms and specialized contractors took a while. Complicating things, no other building in this part of the world had structures like this.
How was your management company involved? John Bouchie, the Hawaiiana managing agent, first had to assist the John Bouchie association board with the financial impact of replacing or repairing much of this interdependent infrastructure. While John was assisting the association board with the financial impacts, as general manager I was tasked with handling all of the ongoing logistics throughout the projects.
Did you bring in an outside consultant? The association had to contact a large number of consulting firms and ultimately selected Dana Bergeman Bergeman Group as our construction manager and primary consultant. Their principal, Dana Bergeman, is a widely recognized industry professional in Honolulu and led a team that was excited to address the opportunities our properties represented. Second to Bergeman was Coffman Engineers, who were retained to draft mechanical specifications to rebuild the existing structure and return the gantries to their original design. Coffman, by the way, is one of the companies that helped design and build the Golden Gate Bridge.
Any other contractors that contributed? Ralph S. Inouye Co. Ltd. acted as the primary general contractor with Mutual Welding as a sub. The rest of the contractors were independent: Beachside Roofing, Steveâ€™s Plumbing, Service Air Conditioning, Zelinsky Painting and Doonwood Engineering. Everyone had a part to play and contributed their expertise.
Starting a project often uncovers other issues as well. Did that happen here? Replacing the roofs revealed the deteriorated condition of all the drains and vents, which had to be replaced as well. The plumbing pipes over all the roofs had to be repaired, lined and, in many cases, vents replaced.
Workers painting the gantry system. Photo courtesy: Bergeman Group
Most of the other pieces of equipment on the roofs were already failing, being almost 30 years old. It was time to replace them as well. This led to specifying and replacing 16 different exhaust vents and large “squirrel fans.” Next came the hot water boilers for the upper zones that were also located on the roofs. These had begun failing the prior year, which was causing the penthouse units to lose hot water. The original system had also been built with no backup. New boilers were engineered, replacing the old ones with two separate systems, which was both cheaper and more efficient in the long run. With every plan made and acted upon, new challenges arose to overcome. It was a team effort to navigate over and through all the obstacles. In the end, addressing all off these challenges led to not only restoring the property, but adding value and helping to get ahead of other problems before they escalated in the future.
When did actual work on the project begin and end? Administrative work and performing due diligence on this project began in the first quarter of 2017. The physical re-construction began a year later and wasn’t over until early 2020. The final punch
lists were delayed until mid-summer because of COVID-19.
Number of units and common areas affected? The entire property was affected financially and from the numerous challenges that occur from major construction. The penthouse units suffered months at a time because of the ongoing noise and other inconveniences. We did everything we could to assist the residents during this time, from extending work hours to allow freight elevator shares and people to move in and out over the weekends.
Cost: The cumulative project costs was over $2 million. Any lessons learned that other buildings could benefit from? The total project itself took more than two years to complete, while other capital improvements simultaneously continued. Managing these projects required constant follow-up on all ends by all parties. If you’re ever trying to juggle multi-faceted, large-scale projects on your own, here are some lessons learned and key points to remember: • Use all available communication channels to keep people informed. One letter, notice or email is not enough.
16 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
Reach out before, during and after. There should never be a situation where someone says, “I didn’t know.” This applies to contractors and residents/owners. • Be clear and concise in your communications, document everything and keep all parties informed. If it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t exist. The days of handshake agreements are gone, and people can forget about phone calls the moment they hang up. • Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s OK to tell someone you don’t immediately know the answer to a question. Let them know you will research the topic and get back to them. Never leave someone waiting for a response. • If a project succeeds or fails, the management will be responsible even if they weren’t the professionals doing the job. Hold individuals accountable for their actions while you take responsibility for resolving all of it. Don’t allow undocumented problems to occur on your watch. • It takes a cohesive team, so don’t try to do it yourself. You’ll need outside professional assistance including help with construction management, engineering and contractors. You’ll also need input from your property management, legal, finance and insurance specialists. ❖
RANDOLPH B. "RANDY" AHLO
From Music to Management After 43 years in hospitality, Randy Ahlo made the move to condo management BY DON CHAPMAN
18 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
Randolph B. "Randy" Ahlo TITLE: Association Manager, Waikiki Shore
One of a growing number of condominium managers who came from hotels, Randy Ahlo’s first job in the hospitality industry was musical. “I was going to Saint Louis, class of ’65, and they were planning a carnival,” he says. “So I told my friend Benny Gonzalez, ‘Eh, why don’t we make a band?’ Believe it or not, in a round-about way, that’s really where my hospitality career began.” They called themselves The Renegades, and if you are of a certain age you recall when they were the hottest thing in a town full of hot young bands, drawing 9,000 people to what is today the Blaisdell Arena. But college beckoned, and he went off to play football at the University of San Francisco, which promptly dropped football. He came home and wasn’t sure what to do until family friend Leina‘ala Kalama—she would later marry and add Heine to her name, and go on to become the featured hula dancer for the Brothers Cazimero—suggested he “go see Al Lopaka.” Handsome and talented, Al was attracting crowds to Waikiki. “So I went down, and Al calls me up on stage, and I played piano and sang a few songs,” Ahlo says. “And he hired me.”
Soon they were performing in the back room at Don Ho’s Hana Ho club and opening the Polynesian Palace. “That’s where I developed my personality,” Ahlo says. “I learned to enjoy engaging with people and just to enjoy people—it was inbred in me by my Mom and Dad to love and respect people. … Al would say, ‘Go into the audience, talk with people—they’ll stay for the next show.’ And so I could share how much I love my Hawaii—that’s my soul.” That attitude would serve him well as he soon embarked on a career change. Though he loved the musician’s life and the pay—“I was making $500, $600 a week!”—he was also newly engaged and understood he needed something that offered more long-term stability. “So I went to work as a part-time assistant manager at the Captain’s Galley at the Moana, making $595 a month,” he recalls. “One of the waitresses was Nancy Bahouth, who was married to Nick Bahouth, GM at the Hanohano Room. He recruited me to Sheraton.” That led Ahlo to a 43-year career that includes managing several hotels, the Waikiki Yacht Club and now to the Waikiki Shore.
When did the building open?
boards, beach chairs and umbrellas; Healthy Feet is a manicure and massage shop; Kaion does surfboard rentals and sales and offers surf-related items; Steak Shack is a food concession that offers plate lunches; Sun’s Up is a food concession that offers plate lunches, sandwiches, shave ice, ice cream and soft drinks; and Waikiki Shore Gift Shop offers aloha attire, curio items and souvenirs.
Number of units: 168. Amenities: We are on the beach! That’s the best amenity anyone could have. We are the only condominium on Waikiki Beach. We do have a variety of commercial tenants: Alicia’s Hair Salon; Arts of Paradise sells paintings and offers painting lessons; Braids Hawaii does braids; DYC is a beach concession that offers surf lessons and rents surf-
Management company affiliation: Hawaiian Properties.
Number of board members, and how often do you meet? Seven board members who meet four times per year.
Number of staff: 10. Do you offer vacation rentals? We are a condominium hotel managed by several agencies.
When did you come aboard? August 2018.
Previous building management jobs? I have been in the hotel arena for 40-plus years and had a stint managing the Waikiki Yacht Club for four years.
How did you get into the industry? As a result of spending several years with Castle Resorts managing the rental division of the Waikiki Shore, I developed many relationships with the owners of the Waikiki Shore. Several years later the position of association manager became available, which I was offered and readily accepted.
How did you make the move from hospitality to condo management? I believe it all has to do
with being a good people person. I am a stickler on cleanliness and very service-oriented. The mechanical/ maintenance side has been part of all of my past positions. I believe in showing respect for others. Being a man of my word became of utmost importance to my career.
Current or planned projects? Spalling repair and painting of the mauka and makai sides of Waikiki Shore. We are also scheduled to do spalling repair and upgrades to our upper parking area. We have a very capable staff to do the day-to-day maintenance and custodial responsibilities of a great property.
How has the coronavirus What do you like about building changed daily operations? As we all have seen over the past several management? The people aspect is extremely challenging. I like the challenge of making the Waikiki Shore the best building for owners and renters alike.
Most important qualities for a condominium manager? Understanding safety, cleanliness, time management, staying on top of your projects and employee retention and training.
20 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
months, maintaining the cleanliness and the recommended protocols of the CDC and the health department are a challenge. The cleaning process has become even more intense with the disinfecting of public areas, door handles, countertops, furniture, hand sanitization, face masks, elevator cleaning and disinfecting and the ever-changing requirements. We take COVID-19 very seriously and want to make certain that visitors follow the coronavirus guidelines. â?–
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
Getting Into Hot Water A back-to-basics look at distributed hot water in high-rise buildings
hat do helping Tutu replant her garden, spending the day at your favorite surf break and a waterfall hike on the Windward Side have in common? Nothing feels better after these activities than a soothing, hot shower. Our topic is a refresher on how hot water gets to the showerhead, or the dishwasher or the lavatory in a typical high-rise building. Chances are, if you are reading this as a building management professional, the hot water in your building is from a distributed water system. This means hot water is produced centrally, and piped throughout the building as opposed to having a tank water heater in every unit. Honolulu ranks fourth in the country by the number of highrise buildings (some 470) in the city while ranking 56th by population. We are so very fortunate to have some of the best building managers looking after complex systems installed by some of the best contractors in the world designed by some of the best engineers anywhere.
Distributed hot water A distributed hot system involves a method of heating water (gas-fired boiler, heat pump, etc.), a storage tank to store that hot water, a thermostatic mixing valve to provide domestic hot water (DHW) at a useable temperature and a recirculation system to provide near instant hot water to any fixture in the building. In the schematic, the incoming water is whisked away to the roof where it can start the journey to the building users as refreshing hot water. Upon arrival, it is heated then stored. Water is stored at a much higher temperature
A high-rise water flow chart
than can be used at a fixture. At 140 degrees, Legionella is calling it quits after 32 minutes. We can also effectively increase the amount of available hot water. For every gallon of hot water stored at 140 degrees, we get 1.4 gallons of hot water at 120 degrees. That means a 600-gallon storage tank at 140 degrees is actually holding 840 gallons at 120 degrees.
22 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
To perform this miraculous slight of hand, a thermostatic mixing valve is the last stop on the DHWâ€™s amazing journey to your shower. A thermostatic mixing valve mixes cold and hot water and will even out fluctuations in the hot water supply temperature. It keeps the water in system at a steady temperature under all flow conditions, from the middle of the night when nobody is
using any hot water at all, to the full-on dinner rush and the daily morning shower festival.
high-rises so no need try wait for wai wela.
Feeling the pressure
Recirculate, or try wait
Pressure is just weight—the weight of the water. Controlling the pressure in a high-rise is typically done by the use of pressure reducing valves (PRVs). Water is pumped under pressure to get it from the Board of Water Supply’s treatment plant to the water main in the street in front of the building. Water weighs .43 pounds per square inch per foot of depth. So for a typical building with 10-foot stories, the weight of the water is adding 4.3 PSI per floor. To shoot the water up to the roof of a 30-story building we will need a booster pump. However, what goes up, must come also down. As we distribute the water downward from the roof, we are adding 4.3 PSI per floor, so if we did not regulate the pressure, the hot water coming back down from the roof would be at 180 PSI at the first floor
One of the reasons that a typical mechanical room looks like a maze of piping is the building’s hot water recirculation system. The UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) and the CDA (Copper Development Association) are pretty clear about how fast water should be shooting through the pipes of a building. The maximum safe velocity is 5-8 feet per second for cold water and 5 feet per second for hot water at 120 degres and 2-3 feet per second for water 140 degrees and over. When you think of how much water is held in the piping, if an occupant on the far side of the building on the first floor had to wait for all the cooled water to flush out of the pipes, it could take more than 45 minutes. So hot water systems are designed to constantly circulate hot water in
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of a 30-story building—not good. So thank goodness for PRVs. And thank goodness for zones.
Don’t zone out now, almost pau Knowing that the pressure changes by 4.3 PSI per floor, and knowing we have a range of acceptable pressure from 40 PSI to 70 PSI, we can then see that we have about 30 PSI as an acceptable range. So, 30 PSI/4.3 PSI is around 6. If we divide the building up into six-floor vertical “zones,” we can supply the uppermost floor in this zone with 40 PSI of water pressure, and the increase of pressure down to the lowest floor in this zone will be 65.8 or 66 PSI (40 PSI + 4.3 PSI x 6), so all floors will have decent water pressure. We can also use these zones when it comes to the recirculation system, as we can make a recirculation “loop” that keeps the water temperature hot in that loop, instead of trying to recircuSee Hot Water on page 29
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CONTRIBUTORS | PLUMBING
Change How You Look at a Plumbing Leak
Follow four easy steps for a clear picture of your pipes
et’s face it, as the general manager of a condo community in Honolulu, you have a busy job. Unit 1203 already called twice this morning due to a funny smell in the hallway, the painting contractor has parked illegally and is blocking a resident trying to leave, and someone forgot to clean up after their pet again just outside the front door to the lobby. All that, and it’s not even 8:15 a.m. Where’s the coffee? To successfully run a building in Hawaii, there are literally a thousand things to keep track of, especially if you want to keep your building looking and performing its best. From paint and spalling, to balconies and elevators, to lobbies and pool decks, to parking garages and landscaping, to windows and roofs, the list goes on and on. With so much to do, and see, on any given day, it’s easy to forget about the things you can’t see—the ones hidden behind your walls, like your pipes. Let’s go over the key things to know about managing the pipes in your community. Leak repair and pipe replacement can be costly. Knowing the right time to do both is important.
Know your piping systems There can be as many as four major water-oriented piping systems in your community (we’re excluding gas lines for now as that’s a whole different ballgame). The four systems located within your walls and ceilings are: • Supply piping (sometimes called domestic water) brings hot and cold water to the units in your building (think faucets and showers). • Drain, waste and vent piping carries wastewater out of your com-
munity (think p-traps and drain lines under your sinks, toilets and bathtubs and rain leaders from your roof). • Hydronic piping uses heated or cooled water passed through a fan coil to provide temperature controls (heat and air conditioning) in your building. • Sprinkler piping is a key component of your fire suppression system. Some communities also may have other minor systems, such as for their pool or landscaping. Regardless of which systems you have in your community, as your building and your piping systems age it is important to document the failures. Each system and piping material carries an estimated useful life that indicates how long a system should last, though certain environmental factors can impact these estimates. Generally speaking, 30-50 years is all you can expect to get from your pipes before age catches up with them and you start to have leaks.
26 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
When this happens, and every time you hear the word “leak,” it is critical that you do the following:
Start a leak log When pipes start to fail, accurate documentation of the failures will help to aid in budgets for repair and/ or replacement throughout the life of your building. A leak log will also help inform reserve studies. In the leak log, note these factors: Which system was leaking, how bad was it, where was the leak located—not just the unit where the leak occurred but where, within the unit, was the leak? Was it near a recirculating pump on a hot water heater? Was it at a particular fixture or bend? Tracking this over time can help determine if you have a systemic problem or not. Tracking leaks, and the subsequent repair costs, can help you keep track of which systems are leaking, when and how often. You can use the
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repair cost data to create budgets for future repairs and/or replacement, and you can discuss accurate repair costs more knowledgably with your vendors.
Save all the pieces of pipe When your plumber or maintenance staff has to cut out sections of pipe or fittings to replace them, ask to keep the extracted pieces that failed. Tagging and bagging them and tying them to the leak log can help you track your leaks and possibly expose a repetitive problem or a construction defect. If the same fitting breaks at the same spot in every unit in a stack, it’s usually not coincidence. Saving the pieces also allows you to send them out for testing in the future. A metallurgist or plastics engineer can inspect sections of pipe to help determine why they failed, and can give you an accurate estimate on the remaining usable life of your system based on actual wear.
Take pictures of your pipes while the wall is open Documenting the circumstances of the leak in photographs can be extremely helpful, especially in older buildings that don’t have blueprints. The pictures can be tied to the leak log and can serve as a reference for future issues. It is very helpful to “see” actual conditions and wall construction. Even if a property does have blueprints, clear accurate photo documentation can help to confirm or deny what the blueprints show and can help spot repetitive issues and better inform future analysis of repeat problems. Knowing what is leaking, and properly documenting where, when and how often are critical data points when determining whether you have an age-related or construction-defect problem with your pipes. It’s also essential information when determining if it’s time to consider a building-wide pipe replacement (or re-pipe) or
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whether it makes more sense to continue fixing leaks as they come. If you follow the four steps above, you will be well-informed when your board asks: How many leaks did we have last quarter? Wasn’t that a roof leak? Which piping system do we have the most leaks in? Was there insulation in the wall where the repair was made? Can I see the old pipe? As leaks become more frequent, damages increase, insurance premiums climb and residents get frustrated, you will know when it’s time to propose a building-wide fix, rather than continuing to repair leaks one at a time. ❖
Hot Water Continued from page 23
late all the floors. I hope you have enjoyed this tour through the mechanical maze of a typical high-rise distributed water system. It is complicated-looking in practice with all that maze of piping, but really follows some basic principals to achieve what everyone wants—a nice, hot shower at the end of a busy day. ❖
David Lord is a principal at JM Sales Hawaii, a manufacturer’s rep firm that specializes in commercial plumbing systems. He has been with JM Sales since 2003 and is an active associate member of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers and American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-condtioning Engineers. Reach him at 545-2357 or email@example.com.
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CONTRIBUTORS | LEGAL
Modern Solutions for Modern Conflict
Mediation provides multiple platforms to resolve disagreements without going to court
OVID-19 has resulted in stress and hardship for everyone. In particular, the pandemic has strained the relationship between many landlords, tenants and property managers. With businesses closed and thousands unemployed, many tenants are behind on their rent or stopped paying altogether. As a result, landlords don’t have the funds to pay their mortgages or make needed repairs. Consider working out a plan now through mediation. Working with an impartial mediator will enable property owners and managers and tenants to be better able to negotiate a realistic payment plan that will provide sufficient funds to pay bills now and ensure continued rental payments in the future. Equally important, it will strengthen the relationship between you and your tenant, allowing you to avoid the eviction process and the search for finding a new tenant in an extremely challenging economy.
How can you mediate when many people are still not comfortable being in the same room? The answer is remote mediation, which is available through a text-only chat space, on the phone or through video conference. All parties are in separate locations but logged in at the same time to negotiate and come to a resolution. Unlike the inconvenience of going to court, where it is crowded and parking is difficult, you can easily participate in remote mediation from your office or home.
Which form of remote mediation is right for me?
Videoconferencing should be your first choice of remote mediation because the process is conducted in the same manner as an in-person mediation and can be used for any type of dispute. It is important that you have the right equipment. You will need a working microphone, camera connected to a desktop or laptop, and sufficient bandwidth to support video streaming. The session is generally conducted for approximately one and a half to two hours, Monday through Friday. Phone mediation is a good option if you don’t have access to the technology for video conferencing. Like video conferencing, the phone is appropriate for any type of case and requires a reserved time block on your calendar. However, it can be difficult to hear the other person when you can’t see their face and the logistics are more compli-
30 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
cated for private sessions. Text-chat mediation is different from the other processes. As with any text-based communication, you cannot hear the other person’s tone, which risks misunderstandings. In addition, no more than two parties should participate. There are many benefits to the chat format. You can respond on your own time, at your convenience. You only need an internet-connected device, such as a tablet, smartphone or computer. Text-chat mediation is best when the issues are relatively straightforward, and the negotiations are focused on money owed and payment plans.
How do I prepare for remote mediation? Once you have chosen the form of remote mediation, you want to make sure that you prepare for a successful mediation.
First, find a private, quiet place. Since you won’t be going into the mediator’s office, you will need to create your own space. Make sure that no one else can overhear the conversation and that you won’t be interrupted, if you are participating via videoconference or phone. Consider wearing headphones to improve the quality of the sound and serve as a buffer to outside noise. Minimize distractions by shutting down anything that isn’t helping you mediate. If you are on video conference, silence your phone. If you’re on the phone, turn off notifications on your computer. Don’t mediate while in the car, outside or working. If you are on a videoconference, make sure that you and your background look professional. Frame yourself in the center of the screen with the camera at the same level as your face (not too far above or below your nose). Use appropriate lighting to ensure the mediator and other party can see you. Second, test your equipment before the day of the mediation. It is always best to be hardwired to your connection, either by ethernet cable on your computer or a landline on the phone. If that’s not possible, find a place where your phone or Wi-Fi signal is the strongest. Ask your mediator if they have a method to test your equipment. There are websites that will take you through the steps of setting up and testing your audio and video. On the day of mediation, use the same equipment and be in the same place as your test. Third, complete the usual preparations for a mediation. Ensure that any documents you might need, such as the contract in dispute, lease, building rules or previous written agreements are on hand and you can refer to them during mediation. Your mediator may want a copy of these as well, so have them prepared in advance. Prior to mediation, briefly sketch out what your preferred solution is, what is most important to you to resolve the conflict, and what might happen if you don’t come to an agreement at mediation. These scenarios will help you be better prepared mentally for the negotiation and questions that the mediator might ask.
Most importantly, be open and flexible to the mediation process. You may find that wiath a little creativity and listening, the result is better though different than you imagined. Conflict about repairs, building rules and difficulty paying rent are common and stressful. But if managed effectively, they can be resolved in a professional way that will strengthen the relationship and
prevent the need for going to court. Contact your local community mediation center to discover what options are available for you. ❖ Katie Ranney is the special programs coordinator for the Mediation Center of the Pacific, a non-profit that serves over 6,000 people annually. She is presidentelect of the Conflict Resolution Alliance. Reach her at email@example.com.
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CONTRIBUTORS | LEGAL
HVAC’s Vital Role in the COVID-19 Era
Considerations for building managers and owners to limit the spread of disease, as well as liability
s COVID-19 continues to spread—and while the scientific community is still researching its many unknowns—it is vital that building owners and managers are diligent in their maintenance of buildings so as to keep occupants safe, as well as to avoid potential liability. An open letter supported by 239 scientists, dated July 6, states that there is a “real risk” that the coronavirus can go airborne. While there is little information on the impact of ventilation and filtration systems on the spread of COVID-19, it can be reasonably inferred that knowledge of how your system works, and reacting accordingly, could be an important mitigation factor. Maintaining HVAC systems and air quality, making claims for any defects and disclosures regarding air systems are key to owner and manager due diligence practices related to the virus.
Maintaining HVAC Systems Every building’s HVAC system has minimum maintenance requirements for its equipment and filters. Not only should owners and managers make sure that they are followed so that the systems continue to function effectively, they also should make sure adequate-strength filters are installed and are changed at reasonable intervals. The most common filter rating system is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings range from 1 to 20. Pursuant to LEED v4.1, ventilation systems should have a minimum MERV rating of 13. Data has shown that MERV 13-16 will filter 80 percent of micro-organisms smaller than 0.3 micrometers, which includes
a majority of viruses and small bacteria. As the COVID-19 particle is 0.125 micrometers, significantly smaller than 0.3 micrometers, an owner or manager should not advise occupants that its filters are stopping COVID-19. An owner or manager should first seek advice as to what kind of filter their HVAC system can handle. If the system is compatible with a High-Energy Particulate Filter, consider installing a HEPA filter. A NASA study found that HEPA filters remove “virtually all” particulates in the range of 0.01-2.5 micrometers. If a HEPA filter cannot be installed, an adequate MERV-rated filter as recommended by an HVAC professional should be used. Failure to properly maintain a building exposes owners and managers to liability to occupants who contract COVID-19 due to negligent maintenance. The standard of care as to air-handling systems and COVID-19 for owners and managers will be guided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. As of July 1, ASHRAE has approved the following statements regarding HVAC systems:
32 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
• Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures. • Ventilation and filtration can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life-threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. ASHRAE guidance on HVAC maintenance can be found at ashrae.org/ technical-resources/resources.
HVAC Defect Claims Related to COVID-19 Property owners and managers also should be cognizant of deficiencies in both the design and construction of the building. A primary focus should be on the HVAC system, both its integrity as well as breaches of the fire-rated assembly that could result in transmission of air between units, whether residen-
tial, commercial or retail. The transmission of air between spaces may occur in a number of different ways, such as: • The mixing of return air in a common air-handling unit (AHU). Common areas in high-rise residential buildings, commercial spaces and retail typically have a central AHU which takes return air back from the spaces, mixes it together, filters it, heats or cools the air, then supplies it back to the various locations. This is a common scenario where air from one space mixes with all rooms within the zone. It is important with these units to ensure there is the required amount of outside air being introduced at the AHU as well as adequate and maintained filtration. This situation also applies in a residential high-rise as air is supplied from a central unit to all of the rooms within the individual unit. This air is drawn back to the AHU, either by ducting or through a plenum, and mixes together in the return plenum and supplies it back to the spaces.
• Direct openings in the walls between spaces. Openings in walls between spaces can occur between residential units, particularly within high-rise buildings. It is common to find openings in walls and floor/ceilings that are not properly sealed, allowing for an open “free area” for air to migrate. Air migration primarily occurs from a difference in the air pressure between the two sides. Inadequate or omitted fire-stopping is one way to promote and allow a pathway for the air to migrate along with a differential in pressure, which can be in the form of an exhaust fan enabled on one side of the wall, drawing air across to make up the air removed. • Migration of air from a corridor space into a residential unit in multi-unit dwellings. It is required for the design of a high-rise building to have a corridor air-handling unit providing fresh air and pressurization for each floor. This is done so that when exhaust fans are enabled in a unit, air can be drawn from the corridor with-
out promoting the pathway between walls and floors/ceilings. If the corridor unit is not properly maintained or disabled in some cases, it is possible for the air from one unit to migrate into the unit next door or across the hallway. If the corridor unit has a return air attached to it, the unit will pull return air back from all of the corridors, mix it together, filter and treat the air and then redistribute.
Disclosures Related to HVAC for Occupants The mixing of air over multiple units is not uncommon in high-rise apartments, hotels and condominiums, which if not treated properly could provide an outlet for viruses and bacteria to transfer from room to room or unit to unit. It would be prudent for an owner or manager to inform occupants of the type of air-handling system in place so that they can make informed health decisions. This information should include air-handling maintenance protocols, type of filters installed in the building,
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as well as whether the air-handling system distributes air within one room in each unit, within multiple rooms within a unit and/or between multiple units. The key to protecting owners and managers from liability BRITTANY GRUNAU J. SCOTT FRIESEN related to COVID-19 outbreaks via air-handling systems is mainKasdan LippSmith Turner LLP. Her taining your air-handling systems practice is focused on construction defect and their components, addressing any litigation. She brings her experience in design or installation defects via the professional liability, insurance defense, assertion of claims against responsipersonal injury and environmental ble parties and disclosing the type of regulation to the firm. Reach her at air-handling system that is installed firstname.lastname@example.org. within the building. ❖ Ken Kasdan is considered one of the nation’s leading construction defect authorities and has practiced law for 40 years. He is the senior partner with Kasdan LippSmith LLLC, in affiliation with Kasdan LippSmith Turner LLP established in 1992 where Kasdan is the founding and managing partner. Reach him at email@example.com. Brittany Grunau is a partner at Kasdan LippSmith LLLC, in affiliation with
J. Scott Friesen is a licensed professional engineer with over 23 years of experience in design, construction administration and forensic analysis of mechanical HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and energy management systems for commercial, institutional and residential projects. He has served on the IPC Code Development Committee. Contact all at www. kllawhawaii.com or 369-8393.
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CONTRIBUTORS | LEGAL
When the Neighbor’s Dog is Not a Pet
New federal guidelines say condo associations cannot classify service animals as ‘pets’
ssistance animals include service animals and emotional support animals. They are not “pets,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department (HUD), the agency that oversees the law enforcement and investigates claims of housing discrimination. House rules or community restrictions normally applied to pets cannot be applied to assistance animals. Some pet owners abuse the system by obtaining phony certifications or letters from online therapists to avoid paying fees or to get permission to bring pets where they wouldn’t normally be allowed. We have also read stories regarding owners of various exotic animals pushing the envelope—an emotional support peacock seeking to board an airplane, a therapy alligator seeking entry into a senior center and a comfort pig seeking admission into a restaurant. Under the federal and state Fair Housing Act (FHA), condominium and community associations are obligated to provide reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability who makes a request for an assistance animal. When considering such a request, the association board may ask two questions: Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability, if it is not apparent, and does the person making the request have a disability-related need for the requested assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or some symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability? If the answers to both inquiries
are “yes,” the association has to approve the person’s request. Otherwise, it will face severe legal consequence for violation of the law. In March 2019, a federal court imposed a judgment of $350,000 in compensatory damages, $285,000 in punitive damages and awarded a couple’s attorney’s fees and costs against their homeowners association, the Ardiente in Las Vegas, for the association’s violation of the Fair Housing Act by denying the plaintiffs the ability to bring a service dog into the clubhouse on three different occasions, and subsequently harassing them after denying their request for a reasonable accommodation, including but not limited to assessing fines, sending letters and placing a lien on their unit for unpaid fines. Over 30% of all FHA complaints are those involving assistance animals. On Jan. 28, HUD issued a new guidance clarifying the step-by-step best practice for FHA compliance when assessing accommodation requests involving animals and when associations can request more information or documentation regarding a disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal. Here is your Readers’ Digest version of HUD notice FHEO-2020-01:
Service Animals • When it is readily apparent that a dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, do not make any further inquiries, because the dog is a service animal. • When it is not readily apparent, the association may only ask two questions: Is the animal required because of
36 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
a disability, and what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? Do not ask about the nature or extent of the person’s disability, and do not ask for documentation. • If the answer to the first question is “yes” and work or a task is identified in response to the second question, grant the requested accommodation, because the animal qualifies as a service animal. • If the answer to either question above is “no” or “none,” the animal does not qualify as a service animal but may be a support animal, which the association should further assess per the following guidance.
Assistance Animals (Other Than Service Animals) • A request for reasonable accommodation may be oral or written; it may be made by others on behalf of the individual; it may be made either before or after acquiring the assistance animal. • When the person has an observable disability or the association has information giving it reason to believe that the person has a disability, the association may request that the person requesting the accommodation provide
information which reasonably supports that the animal does work, performs tasks, provides assistance and/or provides therapeutic emotional support with respect to such person’s disability. The association is not entitled to know an individual’s diagnosis. • If there is no observable disability or the association has no information giving it reason to believe that the person has a disability, the association is not required to grant the accommodation unless the person requesting the accommodation provides information that reasonably supports that such person has a disability, but the association cannot deny the accommodation until the requester has been given a reasonable opportunity to do so. • HUD takes the position that documentation from websites that sell certificates, registrations and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal. • HUD also acknowledges that many legitimate, licensed healthcare professionals deliver services remotely, including over the internet. One reliable form of documentation is a note from a person’s healthcare professional that confirms a person’s disability and/or need for an animal when the provider has personal knowledge of the individual. • The association is not required to grant the accommodation unless the person requesting the accommodation provides information which reasonably supports that the animal does work, performs tasks, provides assistance and/or provides therapeutic emotional support with respect to the individual’s disability, but cannot deny the accommodation until the requester has been provided a reasonable opportunity to do so. A relationship or connection between the disability and the need for the assistance animal must be provided. The lack of such documentation in many cases may be reasonable grounds for denying a requested accommodation. • The association may not insist on
specific types of evidence if the information which is provided or actually known to the association meets the
The challenge faced by association directors and property managers has been the ambiguity on what constitutes proper supporting documentation for assistance animal requests. requirements of the HUD guidance. The association also may not require a healthcare professional to use a specific
form to provide notarized documents, to make statements under penalty of perjury or to provide an individual’s diagnosis or other detailed information about a person’s physical condition. • If an individual is requesting to keep a unique type of animal that is not commonly kept in households, such as reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, kangaroos or other non-domesticated animals, HUD emphasizes that the requester has the substantial burden of demonstrating a disability-related therapeutic need for the specific animal or the specific type of animal. ❖ Na Lan is a director of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert. A recipient of the 2015 CAI Public Advocate of the Year Award and former chair of the CAI Legislative Action Committee, she has been practicing condominium and community association law for over 10 years. Reach her at 526-3617, firstname.lastname@example.org or hawaiilawyer.com.
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CONTRIBUTORS | RESTORATION
Managing Emotions in a Time of Crisis
Real strategies for keeping your building's occupants happy
ere at Premier Restoration Hawai‘i, we always place an emphasis on hiring field technicians who have the skills to manage our customers’ emotions. I always say, “We can train someone how to dry structures, but we can’t train them to be patient while one of our customers is crying.” Because property restoration is such a technical trade, we like to think our performance on the job is what earns us those five-star ratings on Google. But our ability to manage our customers’ emotions is probably the single greatest factor influencing whether that customer will leave us positive feedback. Below are some strategies we employ when managing our customers’ emotions through a time of crisis.
Mirroring When dealing with a water or fire damage emergency, it’s common for some people to become very emotional—dare I say, almost hysterical. In fairness to them, the single most expensive asset of their life has gone through a catastrophe. One key skill we’ll use is called mirroring. If anyone has ever done couples counseling, you’ve done mirroring. When a customer of ours is done speaking, we’ll simply provide a recap of what they’re looking for in our own words to reach a point of consensus. A lot of the time this will get our customer to focus on the facts surrounding their issue as opposed to the emotion attached with it. Example: Customer: “I’m so sick and tired of my upstairs neighbor always flooding my unit. Doesn’t he/she have any respect for me and my personal belongings? I just want this to stop happening.”
Our response: “What I’m hearing from you is if we find a solution to fix the flooding problem, you’d be interested in knowing how.”
Recapping When people are in an emotional state, their capacity to retain information is significantly diminished. Far too often, our technicians onsite will relay key information about what’s going to happen next only to have that information forgotten or lost by the customer. Our coordinators are keen to always recap the next steps on any job every time they’re communicating with our customers. On larger or multi-unit projects, we’ll take it a step further by emailing updates with a brief overview of what we did that week and what is coming up next. Taking the time to recap information is a huge step in making sure everyone stays informed. Example: Email to our customer Thank you for meeting with us today. Our technician Randy was on site today
38 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
to perform an inspection of the damaged areas. This information will be relayed to Brett, one of our estimators, to prepare an estimate for repairs. This estimate will be submitted to your insurance carrier for approval. Once the work is approved, we’ll be contacting you to sign a contract and discuss when work can get started.
Notes Communication is the key when people are frustrated. I know I already explained how memory retention dips when people are stressed, but we find that the more frequent our communication is with our customers, the smoother the process usually goes. We have a metric we track called FLIs (Files Lacking Interaction) which indicates which of our customers have not heard from us in seven days. Usually, a simple phone call, even if it’s to say we’re still waiting on your cabinets to come in, is very helpful in making our customers feel cared for See Crisis on page 41
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CONTRIBUTORS | RESTORATION
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uring this unprecedented time caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, we are all trying to map our course to recovery. With new and changing information coming at us every day about this pandemic and the effects it is having on our daily life, it is hard to sort through it all and dial down the info into a plan of action. First and foremost, the precautions and directions given to us by our local officials on personal safety is of utmost importance. Most recently, the use of personal protective face masks is being enforced in our daily public outings. It’s hard to say what the next direction we receive will
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40 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
be and how it will affect our daily lives and operations. To those sorting through the onslaught of information, I say we are here to help. Whether you’re trying to plan and prepare for the return of customers once quarantine is lifted or disinfecting after a confirmed case of the coronavirus has been identified with your staff, or maintaining a high standard of cleanliness as you continue to operate business, we can help. While COVID-19 is new, biological threats such as this are not new nor are the protocols for decontaminating this type of threat. We want to restore confidence in our community by letting them know help is available to mitigate these unprecedented times. Beyond the janitorial staff, call an IICRC-certified firm that uses CDC-approved products. Using protocols set forth by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, qualified restoration firms can mitigate biological contaminants. This is a protocol that we are very familiar with and goes far beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis. This includes CDC-approved products, methods of application and the protective gear that our teams utilize. Common areas to treat. The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include: kitchen/ food areas, bathrooms, schools/classrooms, offices, retail spaces, water fountains, shelving/racks, sales counters, carpets and rugs, stair handrails, elevator cars, playground equipment and fitness equipment. Special products. The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities. This will one day be behind us and we will be back to full operations, greeting our customers, neighbors, friends and family with a handshake and a hug. To get back to that point, however, we have to be sure our businesses and
Crisis Continued from page 38
during their time of need. Hopefully, these real strategies can help the next time you find yourself surrounded by frustrated occupants. Lastly, never underestimate the power of a $10 Starbucks gift card, not as an apology but as a tool for relief. When I was a technician, I always kept a few in my truck. Whenever one of my customers was stressed out, I’d hand them a gift card and tell them to have a coffee on me. ❖
homes are healthy. There is help out there; no matter what your situation, your IICRC-certified restoration company can help you get back on a path to regular life and business as usual. ❖
IICRC, is the owner of SERVPRO of Kailua, which specializes in restoration and reconstruction services for floods, fire damage, mold and storms. Reach her at 235-5015 or Gmaras@servpro10376.com.
Glenna Maras, mold-certified through
Anthony Nelson is president of Premier Restoration Hawaii, as well as an applied microbial remediation technician, applied structural drying technician, carpet cleaning technician, carpet repair and reinstallation technician, color repair technician, commercial drying specialist, fire and smoke restoration technician, health and safety technician, odor control technician, resilient flooring inspector and water damage restoration technician. Reach him at anthony@ premhi.com.
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Bad Boards, Bad Boards, Whatcha Gonna Do? Suggestions to alleviate or minimize disputes
very year, the state Legislature introduces bills “by request” from angry constituent condo residents who feel victimized by their boards of directors. The bills run the gamut from term limits for board members to establishing a state ombudsman who will deal directly with condo owners’ complaints and take immediate corrective action against “bad” boards. Why should any condo owner be concerned? Dispute resolution between condo owners and their boards is expensive. (Sue Savio of Insurance Associates, who insures many of the
condominiums in the state, has said that Hawaii has the most D&O claims, i.e., claims made by owners against their boards’ association directors and officers coverage in the country, and that the amount of these claims is higher than those made against Mainland associations.) Because of the number of claims made against condos in Hawaii, the insurance premium for D&O coverage has been increasing annually. (This year as part of our budget process for my condo, our managing agent informed us that our D&O premium would increase 10%—that’s on top
42 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
of an 18% increase last year—and my association has no history of claims made during those two years. But because our association is in the same risk pool as all condos in the state, we have to bear our share of the cost to the D&O carriers that provide coverage to that pool.) Also, dispute resolution means attorneys and higher legal expenses that need to be paid by all owners through their maintenance fees. Finally, condo disputes often result in neighbors taking sides with board members and “dissident” owners, which can result in tense moments when everyone lives in the same vertical community. In my experience, most associations have boards that do a good or passable job in managing their condominiums. I am, however, aware of boards that have their own agendas and whose actions don’t reflect the fiduciary duty owed by statute to the members of their associations. Examples of such conduct include (i) voting for low maintenance fees where an aging building’s costs of maintenance and repair increase every year and the reserves are minimally funded, (ii) selective enforcement of condo rules and regulations, (iii) failure of the board and managing agents to communicate in a timely manner to owners’ concerns, (iv) engaging in conflicts of interest, (v) failure by the board to allow owners to participate in board deliberations. Some suggestions for boards that may alleviate or minimize these disputes: Allow owner participation in board meetings. HRS 514B-125(d) provides that notice of a meeting needs to be posted in the project 72 hours prior to the meeting. If you don’t post notices, the meeting may be invalid and any votes cast may be challenged.
HRS 514B-125(a) provides that other than executive sessions, all owners can participate in deliberations or discussion at board meetings. The language “unless a majority of a quorum of the board votes otherwise” which was used to limit owner participation was repealed in 2018. The members’ right to participate is subject to the board president’s right to complete the meeting agenda. This means that the board should determine a minimum amount of time for owners’ participation and establish rules for speaking, e.g., reasonable time limits, no speaking a second time until everyone else has had their chance to speak. No board meetings via email. HRS 514B-125(c) provides that “(U)nless otherwise provided in the declaration or bylaws, a board may permit any meeting to be conducted by any means of communication through which all directors participating may simultaneously hear each other during the meeting.” This means via telephone conference call or video-conferencing, i.e., Zoom, Webex, Gotomeeting. This only applies to board meetings and not to annual association meetings. Board business conducted by email is not in compliance with this section. Provide owners with condo documents under HRS 514B-154. Don’t stonewall. This provision makes clear that owners are entitled to receive
documents listed in that section, e.g., board minutes, financials, contracts, within 30 days at reasonable costs. As a board member: • Follow the Business Judgment Rule for every decision: If you don’t know, get an expert’s written opinion. • Exercise independent judgment: Do not be a “yes” person because you are a friend of the board president. • Avoid conflicts of interest. Don’t allow friends/relatives to benefit from business dealings with the association unless they are professionally qualified.
When your projects call for concrete admixtures, concrete color hardeners, liquid bonding adhesives, water-proofing systems and sealants or fire /
Even then, declare a conflict and recuse yourself from the vote. • When voting for a bid proposal, do not vote for the “cheapest” bid unless that bid offers the best service for the cost proposed. • Comply with your fiduciary duty—your decision should be based on what is in the best interest of all members of the association. • Act collectively with other board members. Individual directors have no authority outside of a board meeting. ❖ Jane Sugimura is a Honolulu attorney specializing in condo law. Reach her at email@example.com.
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What Is Fiduciary Duty and Why Should You Care? Failing to act on behalf of the association’s best interest can bring legal problems to a board member
ave you heard of a condominium director voting against a needed maintenance fee increase because he feels he cannot afford it? How about a director ensuring that an AOUO contract is awarded to her company? Or a board president unilaterally hiring a plumber for the AOUO’s sprinkler system who fixes the president’s kitchen sink for free? It happens, and each scenario raises the issue of breach of fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty is an obligation to act in the best interest of another. Why does it matter? The condominium statute, chapter 514B, HRS, provides that each director owes the association a fiduciary duty in the performance of their duties. Directors must exercise the degree of care and loyalty required of an officer or director of a nonprofit corporation. HRS §514B-106 (a). What does that mean? Directors must act in good faith, in a manner consistent with the director’s duty of loyalty to the association, with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in a manner the director reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the association. HRS §414D-149 (a). Thus, a fiduciary relationship is a special type of relationship which arises when the confidence, trust and reliance of one party is placed upon the judgment and advice of another. As fiduciaries, directors must always place the interests of the association above their own interests.
In addition, the statute specifically provides that any board or board member who violates the mandatory provisions of the mediation (HRS §514B-161) or arbitration (HRS §514B-162) sections of the condominium law may violate fiduciary duty. Liability may be avoided by the board member indicating in writing the board member’s disagreement with such board action or rescinding or withdrawing the violating conduct within 45 days of the initial violation. While managing agents owe a
As fiduciaries, directors must always place the interests of the association above their own interests. fiduciary duty to the property managed by the agent pursuant to HRS §514B-132(c), the board cannot abrogate its fiduciary duty to the association by delegating all responsibility to a managing agent. The managing agent is not solely responsible for everything relating to the management and operation of the condominium project. The managing agent, except in limited circumstances, only implements the policies of the board. Although the board may delegate certain authority to the officers, managing agent, resident manager
44 BUILDING MANAGEMENT HAWAII | NOVEMBER 2020
or committees, the board must still ensure that association business is conducted in accordance with the law and condominium documents. The board can delegate its authority under certain circumstances but cannot delegate its responsibility to operate and manage the condominium project. The board and directors can ultimately be held liable for the actions of agents and employees of the association. Voting on any matter where conflicts of interest or self-dealing arise can also breach fiduciary duty. A director cannot allow another duty or interest to stop the director from making an independent decision based on the association’s best interests. Directors must disclose any conflict of interest prior to a vote on the matter at the board meeting, and the disclosure must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. If a director has a conflict of interest, he or she may not cast a vote on that matter. HRS §514B-125 (g). Why else should you care? While associations must generally purchase directors and officers liability coverage (HRS §514B-143(a)(4)), an examination of the insurance policy may reveal that breach of fiduciary duty is not covered. Accordingly, the offending director would be personally liable. ❖ Carole R. Richelieu is senior condominium specialist in the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Real Estate Branch. Contact her office at 586-2643 or go to www.hawaii.gov/hirec.
CORNER Condo Living More Popular Than Ever More Americans live in community associations today than ever before, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. The “2019-2020 National and State Statistical Review for Community Association Data” shows that 73.9 million Americans, or roughly 27% of the U.S. population, now live in a homeowners association, condominium community or housing cooperative, collectively referred to as community associations or planned communities. The annual report is produced in conjunction with the Community Associations Institute (CAI), an international authority in community association education, governance and management. According to the report, based on data collected in 2019, California now leads the nation with 49,200 associations. Florida has the second-most associations with 48,500, followed by Texas (21,000), Illinois (18,800), North Carolina (14,100) and New York (14,000). Last year, there were roughly 351,000 community associations in the U.S., and the foundation estimates that number in 2020 has grown to between 352,000 and 354,000. Community associations have been growing consistently for decades. The overwhelming majority (89%) of homeowners and condominium association residents rate their overall experience living in a community association as “very good” (40%), “good” (30%) or
“neutral” (19%), according to results from the 2020 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, also produced by the foundation. Additional results from the “Statistical Review” show the value of homes in community associations is nearly $7.2 trillion, and roughly $96 billion in assessments is collected annually from homeowners to fund essential maintenance. The report details top reasons for the growth of community associations: • The value of collective management. Americans largely have accepted the collective management structure of community association living, where association boards are composed of democratically elected homeowners who voluntarily serve their communities. The research shows there are 2.4 million community association board and committee members in the U.S. performing 86.7 million hours of volunteer service annually. • Privatizing public functions. With many local municipalities facing fiscal challeng-
es, communities often are developed with the stipulation that the builder create an association that will assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government (road maintenance, trash removal, stormwater management, etc.). According to the report, 77% percent of new housing built for sale is in a community association—with homeowners contributing $27.4 billion to association reserve funds for the repair, replacement and enhancement of common property (swimming pools, elevators, resurfacing streets). • Expanding affordable housing. There has been a consistent effort to increase the percentage of homeowners in the U.S., and since the 1960s, condominiums have tended to serve as lower-cost entry housing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Condominium communities account for 35% to 40% of the reported total of community associations. To view the full report, visit foundation. caionline.org. ❖
Condo Market Looking Up Condominium sales across Hawaii showed signs of a rebound in September after several months of declining sales and prices. Possible reasons include lower interest rates and families cooped up in lockdown wanting more space. On Oahu, while condo sales dropped 2.1%, from 466 in September of last year to 456, the median price stayed level at $445,000.
On Kauai, condo sales stayed nearly even with September 2019, dropping from 32 to 30, 6%. The median price, though, jumped 17%, from $510,000 to $597,500. On the Big Island, sales were up 3%, from 61 to 63. The median price was up 16%, from $345,500 to $410,000. 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, Hawaii Island Realtors. ❖ www.tradepublishing.com/building-management-hawaii 45
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Hollywood Squares? Nope, it’s the new normal for community association boards to conduct meetings during this ongoing pandemic, taking care of business and fulfilling their obligations, all the while exercising safe practices. Although various platforms are used, Zoom seems to be preferred. Example shown here is the board of directors of One Waterfront Towers conducting a Zoom board meeting, says Michael J. Gordon, Hawaiian Properties VP and senior property manager, at the same productivity level as meeting face-to-face.
More Renters Falling Behind Billing Management
Impacts of the coronavirus pandemic include a hit on Hawaii’s housing market. Call it an epidemic of late rent payments.
Remote System Operation
A study conducted by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization found that 11,157 renting households in the state were behind on their payments in August, about double the pre-pandemic rate.
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The study, released Oct. 5, surveyed 271 property managers and landlords representing 6,719 housing units, both condominium and single-family.
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UHERO surmised that if the trend continues, more government intervention may be necessary. Another study finding of note: the vacancy rate for rentals increased to 9% in August, up from 4% pre-pandemic. Nearly half of those who left rental units did so before expiration of their lease. Said Phillip Garboden, a UHERO professor, “Should these patterns continue, the preservation of rental housing may become an increasingly pressing issue.” The study also found that landlords and property managers are generally willing to be flexible with renters—73% for payment plans, 43% for cutting monthly rent cost, 31% for waiving some of the monthly cost. It’s worth noting that the survey occurred prior to the state instituting a rent relief fund in September. ❖
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Workers We Have Seen on High: One Waterfront Towers replaces a unique gantry system that makes it possible for painters and window cleaners...
Published on Nov 13, 2020
Workers We Have Seen on High: One Waterfront Towers replaces a unique gantry system that makes it possible for painters and window cleaners...