Transition Law &
The Transition Team
An assessment of the “as-built” conditions of the Community should be performed by am Engineering Consultant licensed by the State of New Jersey. In order to perform this assessment it is necessary that the Association’s Engineer be provided with full copies of the architectural, site and landscaping plans for the project. In addition, it is strongly suggested that the Engineer have available to him all resolutions of approval issued by the Municipal Planning/Zoning Board with respect to the Community. In a perfect Community Association Transition World, the Engineer would also be provided with “as-built” plans issued by the developer: However this rarely happens. Statutes in New Jersey dictate that upon assumption of control of the Governing Board, the developer is to provide a host of documentation to the Association including the actual plans and specifications utilized by the developer in the construction and build out of the Community.
After the Engineering Consultant has reviewed the plans for the project and has gained an understanding as to what those plans call for, the Engineer begins his site review of the project in order to gage the “as-built” “as-installed” conditions of the project against the approved plans as well as applicable building codes and industry standards. Prior to performing the site review the Engineer may have available to him the results of Unit Owner’s surveys taken by the Association in order to solicit and identify particular concerns which may have been voiced by members of the Community. Information provided to the Engineer may also come from a “Transition Committee” appointed by the Governing Board in order to assist the Association with this task.
After having completed the site review, the Engineering Consultant will prepare a report that serves to memorialize the documentation, which has been reviewed by the consultant, and more importantly render an opinion as to the adequacy of the “as-built” conditions of the Community. The report should be site specific and should be supported by digital photographs depicting conditions noted in the report. Deficiencies noted by the Engineer should also be supported by clear reference to applicable plans, building codes, manufacture recommendations and recognized standards in the building industry.
The initial Engineering Report issued to the Board results from a noninvasive site inspection performed by the Engineer. Quite often that report suggests to the Association that additional invasive inspections and destructive testing be performed. This recommendations is made in order to allow the Engineer and hence Association to gain a clearer understanding as to the cause of certain deficiencies which are having a detrimental impact upon Association property. Governing Boards are best advised to heed and follow the recommendations issued by the Association’s Engineering Consultant.
One other task typically assigned to Association’s Engineering Consultant during the “Transition” phase is to request that the Engineer perform a reserve study. In performing a reserve study the Engineering Consultant reviews and estimates the remaining useful life of those components within the Association which are the responsibility of the Association to maintain, repair and replace. It is the Engineered responsibility after having estimated the remaining useful life of those components to project the cost of their eventual replacement. The results of the reserve study will allow the Governing Board when preparing the Association’s budget to adequately fund the Association’s reserve account and assess the membership appropriately.
The Engineering Transition study should be provided to the developer for the developers review and response. Experience also dictates that the Transition study be provided to the Governing Body of the Municipality where the project is located along with a copy to the Municipal Engineer and Municipal Attorney. By supplying the study to Municipality the Association can solicit its assistance in requiring the developer to correct substantiated deficiencies set forth in the study.
Once the developer has responded to the Association’s Engineering study a series of site inspection a sit-down negotiation should occur with developer representatives. The Association’s Engineering Consultant should participate in all meetings. In a smooth and cost-effective Transition all matters of Association concern are resolved after a negotiation. If an understanding is reached between the Association and developer, the terms of settlement are set forth in a Transition settlement agreement and release.