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Construction Management, Architecture, and Facilities Consulting

Author: Bill Moss

Updated – 7 Tips to Prepare Your Facilities for Rain

Updated – 7 Tips to Prepare Your Facilities for Rain

After one of the driest seasons on record,  it is finally raining in Southern California. While rain is much needed, steps must be taken to prepare your facilities before the rain gets inside them.   1. Roofs Inspect your roofs to make sure that all […]

Understanding Roles in Construction Projects

Understanding Roles in Construction Projects

One of the issues that we see time and time again is a project that failed to live up to expectations. There are many reasons why projects fail to deliver, but in my experience the failure can frequently be traced back to a fundamental misunderstanding […]

10 Reasons Why You Need Professional Help

10 Reasons Why You Need Professional Help

1. We streamline your communications.

As a community manager, it is likely that you receive constant updates about the status of your facilities from residents, contractors, or other individuals. Many of these concerns can be addressed with a simple response. But who has time to organize this endless stream of information on top of their other responsibilities? Well, we do! SCPC steps in as the point of contact for all parties involved with the current project. We respond to their immediate concerns, gather project updates, and present the data to you in a concise manner. From there, we can receive your input and get back to work. Our goal is to lift the burden of constant interruptions off of your shoulders.

2.We take over so you can focus on what’s important.

There are many time-consuming tasks that can prevent you from effectively managing your property. Though these duties may be essential, they are not efficient. SCPC can help! We take the little things off your plate so you can stay focused on the big picture.

3.We help you find solutions so you can get back to business.

At Southern Cross Property Consultants, our mission is to assist clients in maximizing the value of their property investments by ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget. If a project is halted by some legal or contractual issue, we will quickly resolve it. If there is a major setback, we will find a way to make up lost time. And if you are overwhelmed by others’expectations, we will step in and surpass those requirements. Our job is to keep your business moving forward.

4.We are the experts.

Our SCPC team has decades of combined experience in the industry. Each team member comes from a unique background and is able to find the best solution for any requirement. We can get the job done right.

5.We will help you find the right vendor.

At SCPC, we understand the importance of hiring the right contractor, supplier, or consultant. We are a frequent purchaser of construction services, so we know which vendors are the best fit for your project. And we provide referrals to our clients at no cost. You can rest easy knowing that your facilities are in the right hands.

6.We establish outside credibility.

As a team of outside experts, SCPC brings a level of trustworthiness that will help establish meaningful relationships with property decision makers. We can prove our ability to go above and beyond the expectations of managers and board members. Then, these individuals will make the decisions you need to move your agenda forward.

7.We can educate you.

You don’t have to wait and only learn from your mistakes! We can teach you what you need to know. Our staff members understand that you have a variety of other responsibilities and that your industry knowledge may be limited. With SCPC, you will receive information that will allow you to really know what’s going on with current and future projects.

8.It’s handled. No, really, we’ve got it.

It’s difficult to manage any type of project in addition to the other needs of your property. Southern Cross can come up with a plan, create a schedule, and monitor the development’s day-to-day activities. We will be sure to keep you informed and double-check decisions as necessary, but our job is to save you from the headaches of project management.

9.We genuinely care about you.

Here at Southern Cross, we are very personable. Your dedicated SCPC point of contact will build a relationship with you, get to know your project and property needs, and always provide excellent individual service. Each member of our staff wants your experience with us to be as rewarding as possible. We pride ourselves on our ability to satisfy our clients. That’s what causes them to choose SCPC!

10.You don’t have to do it alone – we are a resource for you!

We understand that you have many other commitments and that time is one of your most precious resources. At SCPC, we are dedicated to making your life easier. Our highly qualified team of experts is always ready to address any questions or concerns that you may have. You can take comfort in the knowledge that, no matter the size or complexity of the project, Southern Cross Property Consultants will ensure that it is completed on time and on budget.

Shut-off Valves – Use them or Lose them

Shut-off Valves – Use them or Lose them

Do you know where your shut-off valves are located?  And when you find them, will they actually work? When you get a phone call at 11:30pm informing you that water is gushing out of a broken irrigation head and flooding the adjacent building, do you […]

Smoke Signals: Smoke & CO Detectors Save Lives

Smoke Signals: Smoke & CO Detectors Save Lives

Do you remember back when you were in elementary school; October would roll around and because it was fire prevention month you might have had a field trip to the local fire station or had a fire engine come to your school. The firefighters would […]

HVAC – An Ounce of prevention

HVAC – An Ounce of prevention

HVAC

It is a bitterly cold November day in San Diego, with a high of roughly 70 as I sit here writing this. Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems may seem like a strange topic for me to write on, this being sunny San Diego and all that. However, all our clients’ buildings have heating systems and many, especially those built since the 1980’s, have air conditioning. The truth is that because of their infrequent use, our HVAC systems in southern California require even more careful attention than the same systems elsewhere might. So what should you do to keep your HVAC system in the best shape? Here are some tips.

Test Before You Need It

There is nothing better than going to turn the heat or air on for the first time in a season and discovering that something is not working. Test the system for heating and cooling before it is required. The easiest way to test your system is at your thermostat. Simply change the demand setting and make sure the system turns on and produces either hot or cold air. Doing this before it gets hot or cold enough to need the system will usually mean that service contractors are available to respond quickly; waiting until everyone else realizes their system is not working inevitably means you will be waiting in line.

Service

You cannot run your car without the occasional trip to a mechanic to have fluids like oil changed, tires rotated, and belts adjusted. Your HVAC equipment is the same; it requires period lubrication and adjustment to run efficiently. A side benefit is that a well maintained unit will also operate more efficiently. Units benefit from quarterly service. At the very least, they certainly need to be checked and maintained annually.

Filters

Filters need to be replaced periodically in order to allow air to flow through them efficiently and effectively. Do a simple test: take a finger and push one side of your nose closed. Continue to breathe normally. Notice a difference? Dirty filters make your HVAC unit work harder to heat and cool your space, which increases your operating cost and also increases the wear on your equipment. How often filters need changed will vary on amount of use and location, but a good rule of thumb is to change filters quarterly.

Pilot Lights

Gas-fired equipment will either have a manual or an electronic ignition pilot light that is used to fire up the full heating element. Pilot lights need to be cleaned and adjusted periodically, usually annually, to ensure that they are working properly and burning cleanly. Many utility companies offer this service free of charge, but it should be on your annual maintenance checklist.

Check the Lines

Visually inspect the coolant lines quarterly to make sure everything looks right. If you notice corrosion, build up, or other issues, call out a HVAC mechanic to check things over. Also, check to make sure your condensate pan, drain line, and the inlet are clear of debris and draining properly. This should also be done quarterly to prevent an unexpected flood.

Check the shut offs

Visually inspect your gas and electrical shut off switches and valves. In fact, test them (called exercising) at least quarterly to make sure they will work if you ever need them to. There is nothing worse than needing to shut off the power or gas and not being able to because something is rusted open.

Get Professional Help

We recommend that our clients enter into service contracts for quarterly maintenance, but some of our clients change their own filters and do some HVAC maintenance themselves. I am always in favor of the work getting done, regardless of who does it; but make sure you know your limits or the limits of your maintenance team so you can arrange for professional assistance when required. Better to pay a little for service to be done regularly and properly than to pay to have something replaced.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

The Cost of Doing Nothing

    I saw this timely article today from Energy Upgrade California: http://sdmultifamilyeuc.com/2015/09/15/early-replacement-vs-scheduled-maintenance/ The highlights are copied below: Oftentimes, financing early replacement of equipment, coupled with incentives now, may prove to be more cost-effective than waiting until a scheduled replacement of equipment or measures. Consider […]

6 Tips on Maintenance of Exclusive Use Common Areas for HOAs

6 Tips on Maintenance of Exclusive Use Common Areas for HOAs

On January 1, 2017 California Civil Code §4775 will change in part to read as follows: Unless otherwise provided in the declaration of a common interest development, the owner of each separate interest is responsible for maintaining the exclusive use common area appurtenant to that […]

Risk Management – How To Manage What You Cannot See

Risk Management – How To Manage What You Cannot See

In the movie “The Usual Suspects” Kevin Spacey’s character, Verbal Kent, is describing Keyser Söze, the mysterious and utterly ruthless criminal mastermind who is the main protagonist in the movie. Verbal says that “the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” My clients are generally not worried about criminal masterminds, but they are worried about risk. Over time, I have realized that while my clients understand the need to manage risk, they frequently have no clue what the risks of a venture are. They are concerned about a devil that they cannot see, and because they cannot see what the sources of risk are, they cannot take steps to manage that risk. Waiting to get hit by a truck they never see coming is as scary as looking over their shoulder for Keyser Söze.

So how do I help my clients identify the risks that might exist in a venture? The details will depend on the specifics of a situation, but there are some very general sources of risk that are a good place to start.

1) Contracts
My parents are getting ready to renovate the kitchen at their home in Ohio. They asked me to review the estimates from the contractor they plan on using. After making some comments on the estimate, I mentioned that I would want to review the contract before they signed it. My parents agreed, but they stressed that the contractor came highly recommended and that based on his reputation they were not concerned about his performance. The contractor provided them with a contract and stated that even though he knew he should use one, he almost always used a handshake and it generally worked out. Despite the fact that I felt like I was bringing cynicism to Mayberry, I feel better knowing that there is a simple contract in place.

Contracts are like an insurance policy; you do not need it until something bad happens, and then it is the most important thing in the world. Contracts are useful because they lay out the details of the agreement; who is doing what, how much will it cost, start and finish dates, and so on. While bad contracts exist (ever really read a rental car agreement?), they are still generally better than no agreement. Time will pass, memories will fade, and self-interest will color recollections. Having a contract is a good risk management tool because it provides a starting point for a risk management discussion.

2) Money
Understanding where the money for a venture is coming from, how payments will be dispersed, and when payments will be due are all critical to identify risk. Money may or may not be the root of all evil, but it is at the heart of many disputes. If you can understand the financial aspects of a venture, then you have identified a large source of project risk.

3) Warranties/Guarantees
I was recently working on a contract review for one of my clients. As my client and I were going through the agreement, she mentioned that another project team member was frustrating because he kept making very broad promises that she was not sure would be met. I explained that she was right to be concerned, because by making a promise the other team member was offering a guarantee. If anyone heard this guarantee and relied on it in making a financial decision about the project — and the promised performance was not met — they could have a cause of action.

Most of us are familiar with warranties, the kind we get when we buy a car or an appliance. A source of risk I am always working with my clients to manage is making sure that promises and guarantees being made about the project will actually be delivered. This is a fairly nuanced area of law, and there are all kinds of ways that promises may or may not turn into guarantees. Having said that, knowing what promises are being made helps to identify an area of risk and allows for active risk management.

There is risk in everything we do, every day. You take a risk every time you climb into your car and drive anywhere. The goal of risk management is not to avoid all risk or even to worry about everything that might go wrong. The goal of risk management is to be able to identify sources of risk, analyze that risk and make sure it is acceptable, and then to proceed in a manner that minimizes the risk and allows for the expected return. If you are not confident you understand the source of all the risks in a venture, talk to a professional who can help you analyze those risks; an attorney, a CPA, an insurance broker. You know that risk is out there; don’t spend all your time looking over your shoulder waiting for Keyser Söze to show up and ruin your day.

Matthew C. Boomhower is the founder and president of Southern Cross Property Consultants; a construction management, architecture, and facilities management consulting firm. He is licensed as both an Architect and an Attorney. He can be contacted at matthew@southerncrosspc.com or 858-395-8657.