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The Sound and the Fury

Hard Surface Flooring Sound Transmission Issues

By Ellen R. Schuster, Esq.

This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator here.

Complaints about noise from an upstairs neighbor’s hard surface flooring - and the expectations that the association will handle it – are on the rise. This increase is due to aging buildings, hard surface flooring trends, and more people at home during the day hearing noises they wouldn’t have heard while otherwise at work.

Boards have a duty to investigate reports of violations of the governing documents. Hard surface flooring noise disputes may implicate such violations in several ways, including restrictions on the installation of hard surface flooring without prior association approval, installations that increase noise transmission from what existed prior to the installation, and nuisances. Without investigation, and potentially taking enforcement steps, associations may be at an increased risk...

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How to Avoid Conflict with Owners Over Architectural Guidelines

By Alexandria Pollock, PCAM, CCAM-HR

This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator here.

I HEARD THE news story from the OC Register a few months ago: a Tustin woman is embroiled in a battle with her homeowners association over garage doors she installed without seeking architectural approval. Her defense? According to the homeowner, she’s made other alterations to the exterior of her home over the years without hearing from the association.

Another story that made the Wall Street Journal in March of 2019 details numerous citations over the course of several years to a Kansas resident from his HOA. The citations started with a misplaced satellite dish and included a statue in a flower bed and a decorative wall around another plant bed. These improvements were made without architectural approval and in violation of the association’s guidelines, according to the HOA. However, the owner believed he received...

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What’s in Your Community’s Architectural Guidelines?

By Sandra L. Gottlieb, Esq., CCAL and Meigan Everett, PCAM

This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator here.

MANY ASSOCIATIONS ADOPT architectural guidelines when the community is formed and don’t look back. Some boards keep the guidelines forever stuck in time. Even though the community evolves and changes and becomes its own unique place, the guidelines are often forgotten, ignored, or things are done the way they always have been done. But architectural guidelines can evolve with the community’s needs and change to comply with new laws and the more mature look of the association.

Provided that the association’s CC&Rs give the board authority to adopt architectural guidelines, also known as rules and regulations, the board should review them every few years to ensure that they meet the community association’s needs.


California Civil Code § 4355 requires that architectural rules be adopted...

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Building a Successful Architectural Review Process

By Beth Gilbert

This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator here.

ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW REQUESTS mean a lot to your homeowners. They take pride in their homes, and find making modifications – like an addition, pool, or garden shed – to improve their property exciting. If you hold up the review process with clunky, manual paper processes and back-and-forth phone calls, it not only takes longer for them to achieve their dream, but leads to overall customer dissatisfaction. All of this can be eliminated by following a couple of key steps. Here are some of the ways you can set up your architectural review process for success.


It’s easier and faster to make a decision when you have all of the information you need. Make it simple for homeowners to submit their requests by providing a set of association architectural guidelines and rules for them to follow. This not only ensures consistency, but...

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Fall President's Message: Cautious Optimism

By Grant Shetron, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

The Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator focuses on architectural modifications and owners’ protected uses. Residents are drawn to common interest development living for many reasons. Among those reasons are the covenants, conditions, and restrictions that, in part, are designed to deliver a uniform and visually appealing community experience. However, layered over this, and sometimes in direct conflict with the association’s general plan as articulated through its governing documents, is a continually evolving stream of legislation that affords residents certain protections regardless of what the governing documents indicate. Over the years we have seen these protections applied to satellite dish installations, solar systems, flags and banners, vehicle charging stations and ADU/JDU units, to name just a few. To co-exist, associations must understand these protections and craft their rules and regulations, policies and...

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Three Ways to Supercharge Your Career

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Spring 2021. To read more, click here 

 THE CAI BAYCEN Chapter is offering three exciting programs designed to help you achieve an advanced designation through CAI.

1 Mentoring Program

Do you need some tips on what classes to take? Do you want some guidance as you navigate the application process? The Designations Committee will match you with a mentor who has achieved the industry’s highest professional credential, the PCAM.

Your mentor will provide one-on-one support and guidance throughout credentialing and the designation process. This includes creating a personalized strategic plan for each candidate to obtain the AMS designations and preparing candidates for the PCAM case study.

2 Scholarship Program

We are offering scholarships of $250 to Community Managers who are chapter members in good standing to partially reimburse you for registration fees for any one of CAI’s six M200...

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Innovative Ways to Plan, Fund, and Approve Community Amenity Projects

By William P. McMahon and Jeff Evans

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Spring 2021. To read more, click here 

Amenities for any community are important as they define a community’s purpose, its mission and what residents it is attempting to attract. If a community is trying to appeal to families, seniors, etc., it will offer a variety of amenities, such as dining, recreation, health care access, social programs, etc. For most communities, maintaining and continually updating facilities and programs is a never-ending challenge.

The original developer of a community will freely invest in amenities that will attract first-time homeowners. And, the marketplace demands highend amenities to be successful. The trouble is that in 10 or 20 years these amenities deteriorate and consequently depreciate. Few residents get excited about spending money on worn out amenities. So the value of properties begins to decline as the amenities...

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How to Get Out of the Surplus/Excess Insurance Market

By Terri Guest, CIRMS, CMCA

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Spring 2021. To read more, click here 

In "Zoom Rooms" at the recent Legal Forum, a story was told about how a homeowners association had its insurance cancelled due to a claim. This association could no longer find coverage in preferred markets (admitted carriers, such as Farmers and Travelers) and was forced to get its insurance from a surplus lines carrier. Not only was this coverage three times the price, the added insult was that the claim was a result of an out of control car speeding down a street adjacent to the association and crashing into the association building – something impossible for the HOA to control.

The question then came up – what now? Once you have entered what we call the "surplus and excess" market – the carriers that folks go to when they can’t get coverage elsewhere – are you stuck? What can an association do, especially...

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Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Hailstorms, and Other Catastrophic Damage

Parametric insurance to the rescue 

By Austin James, CPCU, ARM 

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Spring 2021. To read more, click here 

Every year our country experiences catastrophic weather threats in a variety of forms. This could come from hurricanes, wildfires, hail storms, earthquakes, and blizzards. Many of these events can cause damage that reaches into billions of dollars. There are a lot of insurance companies that protect against these catastrophic claims; however, most have high deductibles and there are a lot of exclusions. A product has arisen in the marketplace to fill the coverage gaps excluded by traditional insurance and help to pay for losses beneath the deductible: parametric insurance.

How Does Parametric Insurances Differ From Our Current Insurance?

Parametric insurance is an index-based insurance product that has been around for decades in the reinsurance space. Its goal is to provide immediate funds to the...

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Skyrocketing Construction Costs Leave HOAs to Cope with Underfunded Projects

Tackling the uncertainties: best practices for bidding, budgeting, and contracting in HOA projects.

By Regan Brown and Chris Sigler, B.S.C.E., CDT

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Spring 2021. To read more, click here 

Over the past four years, skyrocketing construction costs have created various forms of havoc throughout the construction industry, to the surprise of many HOAs in need of project work. The increases have taken on various forms. In 2017-18, a strong economy and a demand for housing fueled a labor shortage, showing an overall increase of almost 30 percent in construction costs nationwide; in 2019, political tariffs and multiple natural disasters fueled the next wave of increases, this time affecting material costs.

The Pandemic’s Impact On Cost Increases

2020, the year that will go down in history for the global pandemic, brought several new factors creating price changes that we had not experienced before. When the...

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