December 2012
Volume 100 No. 111                                                    Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Find us on Yelp 
Cagan Winter Leadership Seminar 
Cagan welcomes Thomas Engblom - An evening dedicated to "Basics for Boards".

We have had a great response for our scheduled January winter seminar. As anticipated, we may need to change the location. Never fear, we will keep you informed of any change. As volunteer leaders of your communities, you wisely have recognized the value of this opportunity. Those of you who have not responded should follow suit. A well educated board is a blessing to their community, to themselves and the governing process.  As your property manager, we believe Education to be a key to supporting you in fulfilling your fiduciary responsibilities and developing your communities.

If you haven't already, confirm your reservation by sending an email to  that includes your name, the name of your association and your volunteer position. Thomas Engblom, one of the key educators for the Community Association Institute is going to provide an intense compact presentation titled, "Basics for Boards". This is a compact version of a regular class he teaches at CAI. Put it on your calendar NOW - January 29, 2013, 6:30PM in the Cagan training room at our office or a location near our office to be determined. 

Thomas Engblom, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, ARM, CPM
Vice President Regional Account Executive Midwest
Community Association Banking & Condo Certs
Former CAI National Business Council Board Member
Winterize Your Condo

Are you a snowbird just waiting for that first snow to signal your flight to the south? Or maybe you are going to reward yourself with a holiday vacation?

If you travel in the winter, remember to turn your water heater to the lowest setting and to set your HVAC thermostat to a low setting but not off. You are part of a larger community and your system being off during severe weather in your absence could allow pipes to freeze. This could cause thousands of dollars of property damage to you and your neighbors.

Another good option to consider is turning off your water to your toilets, sinks, washing machines, ice makers and dishwashers. These items are served with a supply line that is the weakest component and is where most water leaks occur. A small ice maker line running continuously for days or weeks on end can cause major water damage not only to your unit but the units around you.

Check thresholds on all doors. Thresholds are the section of the door you have to slightly step over to come in from the outside. It either has a rubber surface that is stationary or a rubber sweep that attaches to the bottom of the door. This is a critical part of the door system that not only keeps out rain and keeps in conditioned air but it also keeps unwanted pests from being able to crawl into your unit.

Check your Heating ventilation and Air Conditioning unit (HVAC). The best time to do a system check is just prior to a change in the season. Have a maintenance professional check your furnace portion of your HVAC to make sure it is functioning properly and not a potential fire hazard. Service contracts are available to check these systems twice a year (spring and fall). Make sure your filters are changed and air is flowing freely through them. This can boost your unit's performance significantly and avoid destructive problems when you are away.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. About 55 degrees is good. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe--even at a trickle--helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through them is above freezing.

Make sure you arrange for a trusted neighbor to have a key in case of an emergency. If the neighbor checks on things periodically, a problem will more likely be discovered before it becomes a catastrophic and expensive event. When you live in a shared multi-family environment, you are protecting both yourself and your neighbors.
Snow Removal Contracts 

Community associations should have their snow removal contract already in place. If you don't, your crystal ball must be telling you that global warming is going to keep us toasty all winter. So, how many of your fellow condo dwellers own shovels?!

The contract should specify when the work will commence. This is generally stated in terms of the number of inches of accumulated snow. For larger snowfalls, the association should consider requiring the contractor to remove snow after each successive designated accumulation with a final clearing upon the end of the snowfall. The contract could specify whether all areas are to be cleared on a continuous basis, or whether only certain designated areas are to be continuously cleared, with the remaining areas to be cleared only upon the conclusion of the snowfall. A snow removal completion deadline should be included with respect to night, day and continuous snowfalls.

The contract should identify which streets, driveways, sidewalks and other areas, such as garbage dumpster access areas or roofs of buildings, are to be cleared. If there is a likelihood of misunderstanding, those areas that are not to be cleared should be recited as well. If any areas are to be cleared by hand shovel or snowplow, this should be described. It is useful to attach a map of the association to the contract which identifies the areas to be cleared of snowfall. The order in which areas of the association are to be cleared should be indicated. For example, the association may desire certain roads to be cleared before others, and all roads before driveways.

To prevent damage to asphalt and other surfaces, the association should consider specifying the distance of the bottom of the plow blade from the ground.

The contract should address where snow is to be stored on the property, or whether it is to be removed from the property entirely. If on the property, it should not be stored in such a manner that will obstruct the vision of pedestrians or vehicle operators or obstruct fire hydrants, mailboxes, garage doors, or similar items.

In some instances, and particularly in those associations with large areas to be cleared, the contract should describe the type of equipment that will be used by the contractor, as well as the size of the crew that will be dispatched to the association.

Whether salt, ice melt or sand is to be applied, and, if so, when and where should be described. In making a decision regarding which, if any, material to use, the board should consider any potential negative effect on concrete, plant materials or other areas.

The contract must designate the fee arrangement between the association and contractor. Two methods are generally utilized: "flat-fee" basis and "per push" basis. Under the "flat-fee" basis, the association pays a designated sum which covers all services rendered for the term of the contract. The fee may be payable in a lump sum or in monthly installments. Under the "per push" basis the association pays the contractor whenever conditions meet the specifications of the contract and services are rendered. There are risks associated with each method.

If the association selects the "flat-fee" basis and there is below-anticipated snowfall, it may spend more than necessary for snow removal services. If the "per push" basis is selected and there is above anticipated snowfall, the association may spend considerably more than the "flat-fee" alternative. How's your crystal ball?
The snow removal contractor should be required to obtain, prior to commencement of the work, appropriate insurance naming the association as an additional insured. Such coverage may include general liability, vehicle, property damage and workmen's compensation insurance coverage. The association's insurance agent/broker should be contacted to discuss the appropriate policies and levels of coverage.

Some of the additional matters that should be addressed in the contract are: whether any of the contractor's equipment will be stored on the property; fault/termination provisions; procedures to be followed to repair damage to turf or other areas caused by the contractor; and whether the contractor agrees to provide indemnification to the association in connection with claims for damages in connection with its services.

The contents of a particular contract depend on the needs of the specific association. The snow removal contract, as with any other significant contract, should be reviewed by the association's attorney prior to execution.
* Courtesy of David M. Bendoff, Attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in
   Buffalo Grove.  
Beware of Frozen Pipes

It's that time of year again - temperatures are dropping, and if you're ever going to have to deal with the risk of a frozen or burst pipe, winter is when it's likely to happen.  In the past, condominium association insurance policies have routinely provided coverage for condominium property (common areas and apartments/units) when a pipe has frozen due to especially cold weather.

Lately, however, we have seen a disturbing new trend where the insurance company denies coverage because an apartment's heat was not sufficient to prevent the pipe freeze.  As a result, associations may need to be more proactive in monitoring the temperature of units into which they have no easy access.

In one case, a unit was foreclosed on by the bank and the owner moved away.  The power company turned off the electricity to the unit.  A pipe in the attic froze and burst.  When it thawed, water flowed into the unit and was not discovered until days later.   The insurance company denied coverage because of its claim that the association was negligent in maintaining the heat in that unit.  While the denial was contested because it was the unit owner's negligence, not the association's that resulted in the burst pipe, the association would be better off to never have had the situation occur. The price tag for this situation was about $40,000 worth of damage alone, without taking into account the attorneys' fees.

Another case involves a vacation home condominium where the unit was vacant with the heat shut off.  The pipes froze and burst, and a few days later they thawed out and flooded the downstairs neighbor's unit.  There is over $50,000 of damage.  Despite the fact that the association has insurance and both homeowners have insurance, you won't be surprised to know that the three insurance companies are refusing to pay, arguing that the cost should be borne by anyone but themselves.

So the take away from this is that if you know that a unit is vacant and may not have heat, it may be worth taking some action to heat the units or shut off the water to prevent damage to the homes.  Even if it is an insured event, everyone's lives would be made easier by not having to deal with the leaks from frozen pipes or with the resulting squabble between insurance companies over who has to pay for what!

Article, courtesy of Condominium Law Group, PLLC, Seattle, Washington 
Ice Dams

Ice dams happen when the outside temperature is below freezing, the roof deck temperature is above freezing, and there is snow on the roof. The warm roof deck causes the snow on top of the roof deck to melt, and the melted water runs down to the edge of the roof where the water freezes leading to a buildup of ice and a backup of water, hence the term "ice dam".

Ice dams are big problems because they often lead to water leakage into building assemblies, and more seriously, to falling ice that can be fatal (not kidding here) and to the weight of ice leading to structural collapse of roof overhangs and the shearing of deck assemblies when large masses of ice fall on them.

The strategy to control ice dams is fundamentally straightforward: keep the roof deck below freezing when the outside temperature is below freezing. It is not uncommon to install a water protection membrane on the entire roof to keep ice dam melt water out of roof assemblies. However, this does not prevent the ice dam from occurring. It only limits the damage. Ice dams can be prevented. The best approach, the classic approach, to ice dam control is the vented roof. Keep heat from the interior from getting to the roof deck, and then remove any heat that gets there using ventilation. For this to work, three things have to be done extremely well. First, construct an airtight "lid" or ceiling. Second, insulate the top of the lid with lots of insulation. Third, flush away any heat that gets to the roof deck by ventilating the underside of the roof deck with exterior air.

If your building develops ice dams on an annual basis, your Cagan Property Manager can help you get the resources needed to prevent this liability and destructive hazard.

Information courtesy of Joseph Lstiburek, Building Science Insights 
Community Association Institute
Awards Banquet

Cagan was well represented at the November Community Association Awards Banquet. Property Managers Shanna Modisette, Alex Filipovic and Janet Nelson attended the November awards banquet.  Alex and Janet are pictured above. Awards were given for:

  • National Achievement - Outstanding achievement for best practices and innovative programs
  • Olympus Awards - Volunteers that have had a profound influence in developing the IL Chapter.
  • Rising Stars - Honors for outstanding committee volunteers
The Illinois Chapter of Community Associations Institute was founded in December of 1975. The purpose of CAI-IL is to provide a mutual benefit and educational organization not operated for profit for the purpose of gathering and distributing facts, data, and information relative to the ownership, operation and general conduct of community associations and common interest community associations. The membership as of August 2012 is 1,218 members strong.  
Season's Greetings From
Cagan Management Group!
In This Issue
Cagan Leadership Seminar
Winterize Your Condo
Snow Removal Contracts
Beware of Frozen Pipes
Ice Dams
Community Association Institute Awards Banquet
How Can we help you?

-Contact us at our Offices- 

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3856 Oakton Street

Skokie, IL 60076

(847) 679-5512

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