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Contents Summer 2011
Inside This Issue
ABOUT PREMIER LIVING MAGAZINE
Premier Living Magazine is distributed to homeowners and tenants by Premier Management. The magazine is produced quarterly and distributed throughout Lake, Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties.
A Message from Gina
As Premier celebrates its seventh year I would like to take a moment to thank those who have made our first seven years so memorable. In June 1994 I was planning to take some time off and raise my son, David. Within two weeks I had three accounts and had hired Premier’s first employee, Tom Pierce, and Premier was born. Now, seven years later, Premier employs 26 wonderful management, accounting and maintenance professionals, and has built a rock-solid reputation of always providing “above and beyond” service to our clients. We have perfected the “Premier Difference”. To all those who have worked so hard to make Premier truly “Premier” I thank you so very much.
This edition of Premier Living magazine is very personal to my husband and me. Featured on our cover is some of our staff members who recently helped serve lunch at the Ronald McDonald House in Orlando. It is an incredible experience to pay forward to these families during a very trying time in their lives and I encourage everyone to get involved with this worthy cause. Three years ago my husband had just returned from his deployment to Iraq when our youngest son, Tyler, was born prematurely and spent 11 days in the NICU ward. If it wasn’t for the Ronald McDonald House enabling us to stay within minutes of Tyler I don’t know what we would have done. The Ronald McDonald House is truly a “Home away from Home”. They are Premier’s Charity of Choice and their direct link is included on our website.
Also in this edition of Premier Living Tonya Martinez, our on-site Manager at StoneyBrook Hills in Mount Dora, explores who is “Managing the Manager”. We receive many phone calls regarding why the management company made or enforced certain rules.Well, as you will see from reading Tonya’s article, your manager is simply following directions from your board of directors. You will also read many more wonderful articles, including Ed Jones’ article on sinkholes; Bob Miller’s perspective on being the HOA President at Saxon Woods in DeBary; and Frank Ruggieri’s article about Reserves for HOA’s. I hope you enjoy reading Premier Living as much as we love producing it, and we thank all of our contributors.
Until next time, we hope you have a Premier 4th of July and a safe and enjoyable Summer with your family!
Our mission is to exceed client expectations by providing professional and personalized services, innovative association management practices, and a strong commitment to excellence and company values while providing opportunities for our dedicated team members to achieve their professional goals.
Reserves for Homeowners
Reserves for condominiums have long been a statutory requirement in the State of Florida. Reserves were never addressed for homeowners associations until recent years. This was simply a matter of document review and whether your governing documents required reserves for replacement of major capital assets like a community clubhouse.
A 2007 change to Chapter 720 created an ambiguity as to whether a majority vote of the homeowners was required to cease funding a reserve account which was only established by board vote and not a requirement set forth in the governing documents voted into as a mandatory reserve by a majority vote of the members, or originally established by the developer. Many homeowners associations maintain emergency funds for unexpected expenditures often referred to as a “contingency fund”.
The statute requires that reserve funds be funded in accordance with a formula that takes into account the estimated remaining useful life of the particular asset in question. How can a contingency reserve fund simply meant to address an emergency, unanticipated expenditure be funded in accordance with this formula? The answer is it cannot and therefore created issues for many of our clients.
Fortunately, the legislature has corrected this ambiguity and provided a fairly clear set of guidelines for homeowners associations to follow. A reserve fund must be maintained in accordance with the statutory formula of estimated remaining useful life and can only be waived or used for another purpose by majority vote of the homeowners provided the reserve fund was originally established under one of the following scenarios:
- The developer originally established the fund prior to turnover of control to the homeowners;
- The fund is required by your governing documents or;
- The reserve fund was established based upon a majority vote of the homeowners in a community voting to establish the fund.
If the reserve fund was only established by board vote, the reserve funds can be used for a different purpose other than those which were originally intended or can be waived altogether. As always, consult your association’s counsel with specific questions or concerns regarding your community.
Frank A. Ruggieri, Esquire
Frank Ruggieri is the managing Attorney in the area of Litigation for Larsen & Associates. He came to the Firm in 1999, bringing with him several years of litigation experience including trials and prosecution of appeals before the First District Court of Appeals. Since joining the Firm, he has concentrated in the areas of community association, commercial and general corporate law.
Larsen & Associates – Provides full service corporate counsel to community association clients. Legal representation includes condominium associations, homeowners associations, mobile home parks and mobile home owners associations. 407-841-6555; www.larsenandassociates.com
Summer Time in Florida
by Jay Wheeler
For those of us who live in Florida year round, we have all at one time or another complained about the heat and humidity in the summer. Plus we have all had visitors stay with us expecting us to go a Disney World on a hot July day with them at 9:00 AM for 12 hours, a mistake many of us have made at least once. Since then we've wised up and said, “We'll meet you for dinner and fireworks”.
Sure we all know about theme parks, local pools, and even a steamy round of golf or tennis.What many of us have found and some have yet to really take advantage of is how blessed we are to be in Florida in the summer with beautiful beaches in every direction that are nearly empty this time of the year.
The easiest beaches to get to are at Melbourne, which is a straight shot down East 192. That's right, literally. Take any of the roads in Celebration that exit on to 192 and make a right turn until you dead end at the Atlantic Ocean in Melbourne. Plus if you like fresh donuts, you can stop in Saint Cloud along the way at the ‘Sip n Dip’ for a fresh donut. I'm partial to their apple fritters. If you don't like the stop and go driving on 192, you can hop on the Beachline East and end up in Cocoa Beach. If you still want a beach without tolls and like the idea of parking on the beach there is always Daytona Beach which is famous for spring break and motorcycles.
Personally we prefer west coast beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. First off, the Tampa Bay area offers a ton of great beach cities with lodging ranging from a Howard Johnson's beach motel to high end super luxury hotels. Plus Tampa offers some great summer activities in air conditioning, most notably the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball play in Tropicana field in downtown Saint Petersburg in a blissful 72 degrees Fahrenheit. No mosquitoes, no sunburn, no rain, no humidity. Plus if you get bored with the game you can go feed the Rays during the game, and kids love this.
The west coast of Florida has no shortage of beaches to choose from, starting north in the panhandle all the way south to Marco Island. Marco Island and Naples have become our favorite summer family destinations. Having moved to Florida from Hawaii in 1990, and living on the beach in Southern California prior to living in Hawaii, I've done a fair amount of beach time. For calm, warm, clear water with great affordable lodging,
Marco Island in the summer is as good as it gets. Marco Island is about a 4 hour drive from Celebration. A little longer if you stop at Yoders Amish restaurant along the way in Sarasota (leave room for dessert). For a family of 4 you can get a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom beachfront condo with a washer and dryer for right around $1500.00 per week at www.redweek.com. Summer is low season in Marco Island, which means no bumper to bumper traffic and you can walk right into the restaurants. Our family has been going there for eight years with no one complaining.
Marco Island also has a Hilton and Marriott right on the beach if you prefer a hotel. The only attraction is the beach, and beach activities. At night if you are lucky you can watch turtles nesting on the beach, and see stars forever. The only thing we don't like about Marco Island is leaving. We also like taking our own car and not hassling with airports. Marco Island has two Publix grocery stores, and a Super Wal Mart about 10 miles away in Naples. For a night out downtown Naples is less than a half hour car ride from Marco Island. If you need a little adventure the Everglades are also close by.
So stop complaining about the summer heat and check out the uncrowded affordable beaches that we are so lucky to have here. Just be sure to cover up and use plenty of sunscreen. Salt air and salt water is good for the soul.
The make-up of a community associationís hierarchy can be misleading and confusing. Who is in charge and how are decisions made? Who implements these decisions and ensures the communityís affairs are promptly addressed? Many believe the manager runs the association or, at the very least, sets and enforces community policies. In truth, managers simply follow the direction of the HOA/Condo board; the same board elected by the homeowners/condominium ownerís at the communityís annual meeting or appointed by the developer in communities still under developer control.
Most community association managers answer to several bosses. The communityís Board of Directors dictates their expectations and directions to the management company and to their assigned portfolio or on-site manager. To alleviate some confusion the board may assign one of its members to serve as the day-to-day contact between the board and the manager. However, the assigned manager must report to each of the 3-, 5- or 7-member board and all of the different committee members. The management company supervisor also closely monitors the manager assigned to the community, ensuring all company policies and procedures are followed. Additionally, the manager holds a professional Community Association Managerís license and must strictly adhere to Florida Statutes or face censure and fines from the State. Finally, the manager interfaces with the homeowners the most and is ultimately the manager's most important boss.
The board, by majority vote, sets the budget, work schedule, and collection and violation policies. The board also hires the vendors, and decides how the association's funds are spent. The association manager is NOT a member of the board and does not make policy or decisions for the community. The manager is hired by the HOA to provide the board with guidance; to ensure the board remains compliant with state laws and community documents; and to execute the board's directives by seeking bids from vendors, reviewing contracts, confirming vendorís insurance and licenses, ensuring timely HOA or Condo payments, enforcing violation policies, and supervising projects, maintenance and repairs.
To effectively and fairly manage a community the manager must always remain completely impartial and follow the direction of the board, the association's documents, and state statutes without prejudice. Managers should always provide homeowners with friendly and professional assistance; however, sometimes the manager cannot comply with a homeownerís request due to conflicts with the associationís documents or state statutes or must first obtain direction from the board. This may give the appearance of apathy from your manager but this is not the case. Before a homeownerís request can be implemented it would have to be legal, within the confines of the communityís documents and approved by the board. This is a good reason why it is important to attend your community's HOA/Condo meetings and communicate with your HOA/Condo board. Better yet - offer to serve on the board or a committee and become involved.
So, you just got that great bank-owned property under contract and now you need a loan to buy, fix and flip. You went to three hard money lenders and they turned you down. Why? Because you stink at selling your deal. That's right, you need to learn how to SELL your deal to a lender. Start by getting a binder from Office Depot, with a set of tabs you can print on. Mark the tabs into the following sections:
This section should contain a FNMA 1003 loan application, a copy of your credit report, a copy of your driverís license and a brief resume of your experience. If you have no experience, then at least put a list of books and seminars youíve been through. A list of references would help, too.
A copy of the purchase contract with addendums should go here.
Ideally an appraisal, but at least a real estate broker BPO (brokerís price opinion) should go here.
A copy of a commitment to insure from your insurance provider goes here.
A copy of the title commitment should go here.
Detailed photos in and outside of the property, in color.
Have a professional inspection done of the property and put his report here.
A repair estimate from a licensed general contract (copy of his license, too) should go here.
Insert a spreadsheet of the breakdown of the numbers. Your purchase costs, closing costs, holding costs, repairs, realtor fees, etc.
A diagram of the outline of your construction project should go here.
Now, you've got a product you can sell. Go out and approach your hard money lender and see if your results are different!
Home Is Where the Heart Is
At the Ronald McDonald House, this statement stands true! It is The House That Love Built, because it takes the entire community to keep our doors open, 365 days a year. On any given day, youíll see volunteers in red shirts, keeping order throughout the Houses. At night, thereís a buzz of activity as groups prepare and serve meals for guest families. Itís powerful how the community supports the Ronald McDonald House ñ the families that stay with us are your neighbors, colleagues and friends, and they need your help. Anyone can become involved and connected with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida mission ñ read on to learn more!
Larry and Gina Holbrook, owners of Premier Property Management of Central Florida, are key players to the communities and neighborhoods they manage. Their goal is always to make sure that your community is Premier. Many of you know them, but not many of you may know of their connection to the Ronald McDonald House. In October 2007, US Air Force Reserve Lt Colonel Larry Holbrook had just returned from his tour in Iraq when Gina went into premature labor and underwent an emergency C-section. Their son Tyler, born 5- weeks early, suffered from undeveloped lungs and spent the first 11 days of his young life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at ORMC. The Holbrookís, needing to be within minutes of the hospital for their son, turned to the Ronald McDonald House as their ìhome-awayfrom- homeî. Now within walking distance of the hospital, they were able to provide almost immediate assistance, day or night, to the nurses assigned to saving Tylerís life.
Today Tyler is an active, healthy 3-year old -and Larry and Gina havenít forgotten what the RMH provided for their family. Besides providing lunches to the families staying at the RMH, the staff at Premier also donates toys during the Christmas holidays, not only for the hospitalized children but also for their siblings who often get overlooked because of the trying circumstances. The Ronald McDonald House is Premierís recognized ìCharity of Choiceî and they have a direct link to RMH on their website. We are so thankful to the many families who have donated on behalf of Premier.
Here's how other past Ronald McDonald House families are staying involved ñ and you can too! RememberÖ a little bit goes a long way!
The Beyel family wants to uphold the service they were so grateful for when their 7-year old daughter battled leukemia. Although Brittany passed away in 2008, they continue to help other families with ill children. The Beyelís have sponsored numerous family overnight stays by donating to the Share-ANight Annual Giving Campaign. As little as $15 can help underwrite a familyís stay at the Ronald McDonald House so parents can be close to their child - when it matters most.
Barbara Beasley was involved with RMH for years through her sorority, Sigma, Sigma, Sigma. She always believed in the Ronald McDonald Houseís mission ñ but never imagined sheíd need to use the services.
When her daughter Emily was born with fluid in her lungs, she stayed at our House for 9 days. Today, Barbara maintains her passion for the charityís mission. An excellent public speaker, her talents and enthusiasm are leveraged through the RMHCCF Speakers Bureau, a group of trained ambassadors who share the charityís mission at speaking engagements throughout the community. She is also currently planning Emilyís third birthday!
Anthony and Kristen Bencomo collect Pop Tabs everywhere they go ó often filling their pockets and finding a washer and dryer full of aluminum tabs. They also have a tradition of encouraging family and friends to collect Wish List materials on birthdays and holidays in lieu of gifts for their daughter Bella, and to honor their angel Gabriella, who was born pre-mature and passed away after 12 days with them.
Stephanie and Orlando Andujarís son, Nicholas, experienced a traumatic brain injury from a biking accident, causing them to spend months at the RMH. During their stay, they were amazed by the Share-A-Meal program, and promised to give back as soon as they could. Their entire family, including Nicholas, now serves meals during the holidays each year.What started as a Christmas breakfast has turned into a Motherís Day dinner, a Fatherís Day breakfast and even the big one - Thanksgiving dinner!
Countless local families, groups and organizations, too many to mention here, support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida through monetary donations - a need that is constant.
To learn more or donate, please visit www.rmhccf.org or call 407-206-0957x104 Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida (RMHCCF) finds, creates and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and families. Our cornerstone program, the Ronald McDonald House (RMH), provides comfort, care and a ìhome-away-fromhomeî to families with children being treated at local hospitals and medical facilities. There are two Ronald McDonald House locations in Orlando; one is located on the campus of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children and the other is on the campus of Arnold Palmer Medical Center. Since December 1996, 15,000 families with children facing medical crisis have been served by our children's charity.
Anyone Can Help!
Whether you're a past RMH family, or a friend of RMHCCF, there are so many ways to provide the gift of time, talent and treasure to help sustain our organization. If you are interested in becoming more involved with RMHCCF, or want to learn more about the Share-A-Night Annual Giving Campaign, Pop Tabs program, download an RMH Wish List or sign-up to Share-AMeal, log on to www.rmhccf.org or call 407- 206-0957 and ask for Debbie DePierro, Marketing and Communications Manager.
We need your help - because healing happens together.
There are so many ways to help families from your community whose children are facing medical crisis. Here are just a few options for helping us sustain our organization and support the 1,500 families that we serve each year.
LEAVE A LEGACY
PAYCHECK CONTRIBUTIONS/MATCHING GIFTS
At least 30% of major American corporations offer to match their employees' charitable donations, but only a quarter of eligible employees take advantage of those programs. Please contact your community relations or human resources representatives if you're interested in making a charitable donation to RMHCCF, and don't forget to ask about a company match program! Paycheck contributions are often made before taxes and can be of great help to our organization so that we may continue to keep families together when they need it most!
Once again in 2011 tax-free charitable contributions from IRAs have been extended. As you begin planning for 2011, please consider this option as a way to help our many children and families. If you are interested in contributing from your IRA, please consult with a tax professional for more information.
Serving as President of a Property Owners Association Board of Directors
I have several important, but simple, reasons for being involved as a member of the Board of Directors at Saxon Woods.
First, I want to help keep our community a beautiful place where nice families want to live. Second, my wife Linda is a nursery school teacher and as a couple we enjoy knowing our neighbors, watching the neighborhood kids grow up, as well as gaining some wonderful life-long friendships.
As the Board President I have had the privilege to meet and speak with almost everyone who lives in our community. Yes, itís a huge responsibility and can sometimes be a challenge. Unique homeowner situations, community issues, annual budgets, and collections and violations can be daunting. But for the most part itís a wonderful way of being part of our community.
I treat all 314 homes in our community as one big family and most of the time we can all agree on how things need to be done. So in the times that we all do not agree, the Board of Directors has the task of making the tough decisions that we feel are best for the community as a whole. You are never going to make everyone happy, but we always try to be fair and treat everyone with respect.
We are fortunate to have a number of residents that share my strong passion for Saxon Woods and are willing to serve our community.We have all been blessed with our own unique talents. One responsibility of a Board President is to help guide people to do what they do best. I try to find people whose strengths fit the need. This maximizes our efforts and helps prevent burn-out, keeping the time investment of our residents at a level that can be maintained for many years.
Because of a storm in 2008 our community sustained major damage and we were forced to assume a large loan for repairs. We now have no choice but to aggressively enforce our collections policy. One of our past board members worked closely with Premier Management and our communityís law firm to keep us current on our collections. It is easier for our Board to act for our community because we now have a clear and consistent collection policy set in place with our management company.
Homeowner violations can also be a challenge. While I can get a late-night visit or phone call from an upset neighbor who has received a courtesy letter, most understand that these letters are just reminders. Early each year we have several board members ride the community with our association manager to discuss violations and standards as described in our Declaration of Covenants and Conditions (DOCC).
These are the same DOCCs that all residents agreed to abide by\ during their closing. After setting our expectations with our manager, Premier assumes responsibility for the monthly inspections. While we do not enjoy receiving a courtesy notice, everyone, including board members, is treated the same when their home is not up to standards. And yes, I admit that I have received courtesy letters for my lawn and to re-paint my house. No one is immune.
I have stayed on our community's board of directors longer than I had planned but itís hard to step aside when we have many things going on. For example, we are grooming our next generation of board members through our new Ambassador Program. This team of seven (at present) residents attends board meetings and interacts with the board on prioritizing improvements within the community They learn how to govern board meetings, work with our management team and understand the importance of considering everyone in the community when making decisions.
While being a board member may not earn you a Thank You from many homeowners, I say serve your community because you like people and want to help make your community a wonderful place to live and be proud of!
Saxon Woods Property Owners Association,
Protecting your investment against the elements of nature is an ongoing challenge, whether youíre a homeowner or a property manager. From high-rises to single-family homes, direct contact with the elements is unavoidable. Your investment suffers a constant attack from rainstorms, temperature variations, extreme heat and humidity. Make no mistake and leave nothing to chance. Long-term exposure to the elements is very damaging. The best protection is preventative maintenance.
Water is extremely damaging and the deterioration it causes has the potential to destroy the integrity of the entire building from the inside, out. You may be skeptical, but here are a few signs you can look for in your own home. Take a walk around the perimeter of your property and inspect your walls, floors, windows and walkways for chalking, heavy cracking and separation. These seemingly innocent cracks are signs of possible water intrusion. It begins with walls and floors (sub-structure) and gradually causes stucco to disbond, wood to begin the rotting process and rebar to separate from the concrete. Gradually, this will cause the concrete to break away from the rebar that supports it. These are called surface spalls.
Fixtures attached to the home are other prime areas for water intrusion. Check around gutters, downspouts, light fixtures, hose bibs, dryer vents and stanchion posts. Do you observe any mildew, cracks or gaps? Is anything loose? These areas should most likely be addressed. Windows should be examined to ascertain if they have been properly caulked. The weep system for water should be clear and functional, i.e., the pan underneath the window is draining properly. You should also inspect the rubber gasket between the glass and metal or wood. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun will cause the rubber to turn hard and rot. This will inhibit the rubberís ability to expand and contract as it was originally designed to do, thus allowing water to penetrate into the interior walls.
If you discover water damage, the time to take action is now. There are a number of solutions to correct the problems, and they vary with every job. There are also many products on the market for cleaning, sealing, caulking and coating. The basics of waterproofing are generally the same.
Stucco requires pressure washing, mildew treatment and crack and joint repair before sealing and application of a finish coat. Attention should be given to windows so that the perimeter is completely sealed and the sills are caulked and patched to prevent water intrusion. However, as noted earlier, all projects are different. I would suggest you find a certified waterproofing contractor or distributor to get a free evaluation of the damage.
A manufacturerís representative will be able to evaluate the situation, answer your questions and assist you with a plan of action, including exact product specifications and recommended application of the waterproofing products and procedures to be used. Itís very much like going to a doctor. Each patient is unique, and requires an individualized remedy to cure the problem.
If done incorrectly, the waterproofing system can cause more damage. Elastomeric coatings on walls can be used successfully, but it should never be applied to a ceiling, because they will actually retain water and sag like a balloon. If elastomeric coatings are applied to the walls, you should ensure that the roof cap and all of the joints are totally sealed so water canít get in between the stucco and the elastomeric coating. Because this coating does not breathe, moisture canít escape and itís retained in the wall, This can lead to deterioration of the stucco and mold and mildew in the walls ñ damage you cannot see. The only solution then is to remove all of the loose and disbonding stucco and re-stucco the walls.
A waterproofing project should not only fix existing problems, but it should prevent them from recurring again. You should do whatever you can possibly do to keep water away from your building. Sprinkler heads should be redirected to avoid spraying the walls, and shrubs should be trimmed back to allow for sun and ventilation. You might also consider installation of proper-sized gutters and downspouts, scupper holes and floor drains on walkways. The expense of preventative maintenance on your facility may seem excessive, but it is less costly than a major concrete restoration. Your property is a significant investment, and one that should be protected from water intrusion and other elements.
Among the biting insects, the mosquito has reigned supreme in causing problems for humankind both in the past and present. Not only are they an irritant with their itchy bites and annoying high-pitched whine, but they can also transmit diseases like encephalitis, malaria, and West Nile virus to name a few.
In our struggle against this vector species of insect, weíve come to know a few truths that mosquitoes would love to keep secret if they could.
Mosquitoes have a fairly typical insect life cycle, from egg to larva to pupa to adult, but the key to their reproduction is standing water. Mosquitoes need to develop in still water that is at a relatively constant, mild temperature. Swamps are the ideal breeding ground for this insect, but any stagnate or standing water will do, including backyard ponds, buckets filled with rain water, or birdbaths. This is the biggest secret mosquitoes donít want you to know, because you can destroy their breeding grounds by removing all standing water around your house. Turn buckets or other rain-catching containers over, change birdbaths regularly, and apply filtration to those outdoor ponds or fountains, etc.
Another interesting aspect of the mosquito life cycle is that only the females seek blood, since they need the protein for egg development. The males don't even have a proboscis and feed only on nectar and sweet plant juices. The female tracks down her blood meal through scent, body heat, and exhaled gases. Another secret she wishes we didnít know - if she canít find us, she canít bite us.We canít stop breathing or emitting heat, but we can mask our odor and exhalations with bug repellants such as citronella, incense and smudge, and topical repellants.
Chemical repellants like Off! seem to be effective but can possibly be detrimental to our health - a more natural alternative is the use of a mixture of essential oils such as: jojoba, eucalyptus, lemon, clove, cedar, orange, lavender, peppermint, and cinnamon.
Mixing your own repellant can be a bit messy but less harmful than harsh chemicals. Humans may not be able to completely eradicate the mosquito species, but we still have ways to protect ourselves from becoming this insectís next meal.
Keeping these mosquito secrets in mind will help us live a more peaceful, disease-free, itch-free existence.
Keeping Your Grass Green in the Florida Summer Heat
By R.J. Roberts, Account Manager,
Weber Environmental Services, Inc.
We all enjoy the feel of a lush, thick, green grass under our feet. Keeping your lawn green and healthy in Floridaís hot summer months takes some effort but doesn't have to drain your wallet or exhaust your Saturday afternoons. Being an informed and vigilant homeowner is the key to keeping your grass green and beautiful and preventing those crunchy, dry, brown patches from appearing. Irrigation may sound like the ìno-brainerî solution in preventing a dry, burnt lawn. However, properly watering your lawn goes a little deeper than just turning on the sprinklers. Two important factors to consider include how much to water your lawn and when is the optimal time to water your lawn.
St. Augustine turf generally requires about 1" of water every 2 to 3 days during the dry months of March, April and May. Rainfall during the summer months of June through October is usually plentiful but can often be sporadic, so additional irrigation may also be needed.
The amount of water actually getting to your lawnís roots can be measured by placing several rain gauges (Tuna fish cans buried in the soil can also work) in your lawn. Zone run times can then be adjusted to achieve the correct amount of water needed.
Most homeowner irrigation systems have been designed to over-water shrubs and under-water grass. To determine if your lawn needs supplemental watering consider: does your grass have a dull, bluish-gray coloring; do footprints remain in the grass; are late-day grass blades wilting and curling; and is the soil dry and crumbly. If so, you may need to increase your zone times. You can also get some indicators to increase irrigating your lawn from the surrounding plant materialóleaf blades are folded in half on at least 1/3 of the site and Impatiens and/or Azaleas have drooping leaves.
The ideal time for you to run your sprinklers is between 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM. This allows for the greatest amount of moisture to be absorbed into the soil before the heat of the day begins.
Avoid watering once the sun rises since much of the water will be lost to evaporation. Also, water droplets can magnify the sunís rays and increase the chances of burning your lawn.
Often, because the size of some properties and the number of irrigation zones, completion of a watering cycle in the ìidealî time may not be possible. Thus earlier start times are recommended to adequately water each zone. How and when your lawn is mowed is equally critical to a lush, green lawn. During the summer months, it is necessary to mow your lawn every 7 to 10 days.
Make sure that you mow no more than 1/3 of the grass blade length or you may ìscalpî and burn your lawn. Mowing your St. Augustine lawn to its recommended height of 3î to 4î will increase turf density, promote root and stolon development, and suppress weeds.
A healthy root system ensures that water and nutrients are absorbed and not wasted. To help maintain your lawnís health, conserve water, and reduce the amount of water and fertilizer/chemicals you should cut your lawn when it is dry and always use sharpened, mulching blades. Dull blades tear the grass blades making your lawn weak and susceptible to drought, weeds and disease.
Also, bagging your clippings is not recommended as your grass blades contain nutrients from your fertilization program and should be mulched back into your lawn. However, if your clippings are piling up or are unsightly, you can rake them up or disperse the clippings with your leaf blower. Weber Environmental Services, Inc. wishes everyone a, lush, green lawn this summer. If we can help your efforts in any way, small or large HOA, please donít hesitate to call on us.
Weber Environmental Services Corporate Office: 5935 State Road 542 West, Winter Haven
What is a Sinkhole and How Does it Affect Your Home?
by Ed Jones
Florida is known as the land of sunshine and beautiful beaches, but we have more sinkholes than any other state, due to our limestone bedrock. Sinkholes are widely distributed in the northern and central counties of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Some can be depressions or collapses in the land surface, or may even be hidden from view, but all of them are a result of the same geological process.
For over 60 million years, ancient shallow seas covered what is now Florida. The chemistry of water, plants, and animals living here resulted in limestone being deposited beneath those ancient seas. Over time, the seas lowered to where they are today, leaving a base of limestone bedrock covered with clay and sand where we live today.
The limestone is thousands of feet thick, and lies under the entire state and parts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The deposits of limestone were laid down in layers or beds, with differences in chemical composition, hardness, and thickness. The constant shifting of the earthís layers resulted in limestone cracks, resulting in breaks and fractures which slowly dissolved the weaker layers.
The common factor of sinkhole development is this dissolving of the underlying limestone by slightly acidic water. Rain falling through the atmosphere absorbs carbon dioxide and forms a weak carbonic acid.When this water moves through the soil, it reacts with living and decaying plant matter and becomes even more acidic. This acidic water slowly dissolves limestone, especially along the breaks and fractures. The resulting chemical erosion over time causes voids and cavities allowing sediments to collapse or subside. The resulting chemical erosion of limestone combined with the physical collapse is a sinkhole.
What does all this mean for the homeowner today? Insurance carriers, especially the state run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, have paid out more sinkhole claims since 2006 than ever before. According to a Florida senate report, sinkhole claims rose by 375 percent in Hernando County, 187 percent in Pasco County, and 384 percent in Hillsborough County. Geologists say they havenít noticed any particular increase in geological activity. However, the number of sinkhole claims in South Florida, which is not generally known to have sinkhole activity, was seven times higher in 2009 than it was in 2006. The Senate report suggests there is an increase in fraud activity in South Florida for ìsinkholeî claims, when in fact, most of the claims paid out were for settlement cracks in the walls and floors due to poor construction practices. Unfortunately, insurance carriers have found it easier and less expensive to pay off the claimants than to fight them. The average settlement was about $130,000. To make matters worse, the Senate report found that 79 percent of the homeowners who received a settlement check did not spend the money repairing their homes. In fact, the Hernando County Sheriff ís office arrested two men who collected settlements and then re-sold the unrepaired homes.
Florida law has allowed insurance carriers to make changes to property policies to now provide for two distinctive coverages. One is catastrophic ground collapse, the other is sinkhole loss. It's important to understand the difference between the two and how they affect your policy.
Catastrophic Ground Collapse
- An abrupt collapse of the ground cover.
- A depression in the ground cover must be clearly visible to the naked eye
- Must have structural damage to the building & its foundation.
- The structure must be condemned and ordered to be vacant by the local government agency.
- Movement or raveling of soil, sediments, or rock material
- Causing Underground voids
- Voids must be created by the effect of water on limestone or other rock formations
Damage to your home from other types of earth movement or settlement is not covered by Sinkhole Loss or the Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse.
Insurance carriers will include Catastrophic ground collapse automatically in your policy. Some carriers are excluding sinkhole coverage completely, and others offer it as an optional coverage. However, in order to purchase sinkhole coverage, the majority of companies require an interior and exterior inspection of your home, at the homeownerís expense. Once the inspection is completed and reviewed by the company, if approved, sinkhole coverage can be added to your policy. If not approved, then only catastrophic ground collapse would be available. The inspection fee is non-refundable. State Legislators are currently working with insurance carriers to be more consistent in offering sinkhole coverage. One of the options that may ultimately be available is to have a separate sinkhole deductible, much like the hurricane deductible we have now.
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