Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website

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THIS WEBSITE IS IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH TRADITIONS OF AMERICA AT SEWICKLEY RIDGE HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION, TRADITIONS OF AMERICA AT SUMMER SEAT OR TRADITIONS OF AMERICA, L.P. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATE OR SUBSIDIARIES AND IS MERELY INFORMATIVE AND THE OPINIONS OF THE AUTHORS OF THIS WEBSITE.  

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How much will the board's poor judgment cost us this time?

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Board meeting-Wednesday 6/19/2019

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Roof Inspections & Preventive Maintenance

Never happened...we've been asking for 2+ years.

Siding Inspections & Preventive Maintenance

No records or reports...in violation of the community's Declaration.

September 2018 we asked for inspection & maintenance reports, 9 months later....

EQUIVOCATE: to use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment or in order to mislead; prevaricate or hedge.

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5/28/2019  Board Response:  "The Board is aware of Declaration, Article 3.3, Section (e),  page 6 which allows for inspection of all Common Elements and Limited Common Elements on a regular basis as reasonably necessary as well as all unit owners receiving reasonably detailed written reports following such inspections. The Board’s fiduciary duty to maintain roofs and siding of units requires a data informed and effective combination of both preventative and restorative maintenance activities and inspections to inform of maintenance efforts. As the community’s units age, we are aware of the need to inspect units in order to determine the requirements for both preventative and restorative maintenance.  The Board has appointed an Asset Management Project Team who currently is working to develop a strategy and process for inspection of the areas of individual units for which the HOA has maintenance responsibilities.  Once this strategy and process is finalized and approved by the Board, an implementation plan which will include the time frame, the companies and/or individuals performing the services and the costs of the inspection services will be shared with all residents."



Advocacy Note: 

The "Asset Management Project Team" was appointed March, 2019.  Since then they have completed one thing: a "Project Statement."  

WE NEED FEWER PROMISES AND MORE ACTION.


We have been asking for inspections and preventive maintenance to be performed for over TWO YEARS!

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Our response to the Board:  SO, YOU IGNORE THE DECLARATION AND AFTER TWO YEARS OF NEGLECT YOU NEED TO "DEVELOP A STRATEGY" TO CONDUCT INSPECTIONS? 


JUST GET ON WITH IT, GET THE JOB DONE AND STOP WITH ALL THE BUREAUCRATIC BUSYWORK, EQUIVOCATING, AND ONE-WAY B.S. MESSAGES! 


STRATEGIZE ALL YOU WANT, YOU WILL NEVER SEE ANY RESULTS UNLESS YOU ACTUALLY START DOING THINGS.




Find out more

Homeowner Comments about the Board's Response

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"There is no reference to when the project mgmt team is to give them any information. Therefore they could take another two years before doing anything. What a waste!  How about some action not just appointing another team to do something. This place is getting worse not better."

(Resident name and address withheld by request.)


  "They might as well have said, "We don't know sh*t about what's going on." (Resident name and address withheld by request.)


 "These incompetent gas bags are eventually going to drown in their nonsensical verbiage.  It is obvious that they have no clue how to run this place and that they are terrified of the people who do." (Resident--Patriot Lane)

Have a Comment? Click Here
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inspections & preventive maintenance - two+ years of neglect

Board Response to Residents' Requests for Inspection and Maintenance Records and Reports::

"The Board has appointment (sic) an Asset Management Project Team (AMPT) who currently is working to develop a strategy and process for inspection of the areas of individual units for which the HOA has maintenance responsibilities.  Once this strategy and process is finalized and approved by the Board, an implementation plan which will include the time frame, the companies and/or individuals performing the services and the costs of the inspection services will be shared with all residents." 


The "Project Team" was appointed 3/26/2019….and we continue to wait...no apparent progress as of 6/18/2019.  But hey, they have decided on a cool acronym for their group, AMPT. (Unfortunately, that's all they've "accomplished" so far.)


The Board and specially selected committee members (a.k.a. "Special" Friends of the Board) spent time in 2018 devising a "Maintenance Matrix" to arbitrarily delegate the Board's maintenance responsibilities to homeowners. Wouldn't that time and effort have been better spent actually doing something constructive, like maybe, having roofs and siding inspected?  Or start performing proactive, preventive maintenance?


Did you know?


  • The duties of the HOA Board include the maintenance and repair of our units' exterior surfaces and roofs. Failure to fulfill these duties could subject a community association to a breach of covenant claim.
  • The HOA Board can (and should) be held accountable by HOA members for failure to conduct maintenance or repairs.
  • May 2019:  The association still does not have a documented maintenance schedule for each major component listed in the October 2017 Reserve Study

Learn More:

The Board is unable to provide any reports and documentation on proper inspections and proactive, preventive maintenance of our units' roofs and siding performed in the last two years.  Which leads us to believe such activity was never initiated or completed.


The Board is required by Article 3.3 in the Declaration to conduct timely inspections and preventive maintenance for each unit's roof and siding.  There may be a fiduciary breach of the "duty of care" if there is neglect in the enforcement of governing documents and/or neglecting to maintain the HOA property.


Thousands of dollars have already been spent repairing roofs and siding.  These roofing problems could have been addressed and evaluated as Construction Defect-Related Transition Issues. A professional transition inspection would have assessed whether any construction defects existed through poor workmanship or defective materials. 

  

Based on the above facts there could be a breach of fiduciary duty due to the failure of the association to sue the developer, declarant or general contractor for construction defects where the unit roofs and siding were improperly constructed.

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who's going to have a "lucky" lawn?

Some lawns will receive special treatments and new topsoil, others will not receive any treatment.

May 3, 2019 Grounds & Safety Committee Minutes:

"The lawns were rated on a scale of 1 through 4 depending on the amount of work and attention the lawn requires.  Some homes will be prioritized for specialized treatments this Spring, including new topsoil." 



* Due to Board-imposed restrictions on the "community" Message Board, we were denied the opportunity to post a message to residents (see above).  


6/8/2019:  We contacted the Chairman of the Grounds & Safety Committee and he referred us to the Board.  The Board has not responded to us.

Learn More

The ranking determines the service your lawn will receive.  Some lawns will receive special treatments and new topsoil; others will not.


It is important for you, the homeowner, to know about the "turf assessment", how your lawn was ranked, what service you can expect, and how it will affect the appearance and health of your unit's lawn and surrounding area.  

Questions or Comments? click here
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Maintenance Matrix. Less maintenance, homeowners pay more.

The Maintenance Matrix is an attempt by the Board to “dump off” maintenance activities the Board does not want to deal with or, due to poor planning, failed to budget for appropriately. 


It is a document created by a small group of Board-selected cronies who decided to burden homeowners with responsibilities our governing documents assign to the Board .  The Board is trying to force residents to accept additional maintenance expense, responsibility, and risk.


The "Maintenance Matrix" does not serve the best interest of our residents.


Originally called the Responsibility Checklist, a homeowner request to review the "checklist" during its development was denied. Homeowners were not asked or permitted to discuss, comment, or provide information in the development of the "matrix."  


The so-called support documents for the matrix omit crucial and relevant information from the Reserve Study, Declaration, Rules & Regulations, Financial Committee meeting minutes, and TOA sales documentation.


homeowner questions & comments: neglect of limited & common elements

Resident comment and submitted photos - June 4, 2019:

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"Is this the level of lawn care that we can expect this season? The grass was not cut last week. The grass behind my home grows quickly making it impossible to clean up after my pet. Today, the grass is 7-8 inches tall!

The grass from the last cutting was never collected. See pictures of the grass left on the lawn and a large weed in the flowerbed!" 

Neglected landscaping throughout Spring and early Summer 2019. (Resident-submitted photo)

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Not included in the recent Board Briefs document: a sense of responsibility and fiduciary duty to homeowners. 

No landscaping service and lack of maintenance.. (Resident-submitted photo)

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It is not only unsightly but residents need to be concerned about the well-being of their pets, particularly with flea and tick season upon us.  So it is not only an aesthetic issue it is also one of health and safety.  It is also costing all of us money. 

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"I thought living in this community I would have the garden work taken care of but with overgrown shrubs it makes our home look like it is uncared for. We had no cutting in the fall and now it’s June and no work is done."

(Resident-submitted photo)

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"Why doesn’t our board work on hiring before the growing season starts?"

(Resident-submitted photo)

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"After steady rains we are allowing heavy riding mowers to cut grass on soaked lawns where drains need to be installed. Are there going to be repairs? Should our HOA inform the service of this problem? It happens every time they cut after a rain."

(Resident-submitted photo)

Landscaping 2019: THE HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT.

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JUNE 2019: ANOTHER SEASON OF BAD LANDSCAPING!! REASONABLE DILIGENCE WAS NOT PERFORMED BY THE BOARD.

ONCE AGAIN, THE BOARD TOOK NO ACTION TO FOLLOW-UP ON A HOMEOWNER'S QUESTION AND CONFIRM THAT THE LANDSCAPING COMPANY ACQUIRED ENOUGH H-2B WORKERS TO FULFILL THE COMPANY'S 2019 CONTRACT COMMITMENTS TO SEWICKLEY RIDGE.


MAY 10, 2019 UPDATE:  MORE EXPENSE ($205,000+) AND LESS SERVICE FOR HOMEOWNERS.

(Message from the Board noreply@sewickleyridgehoa.com May 10, 2019)

"Many of you have joined with the Board and the Grounds and Safety Committee in expressing your dissatisfaction and frustration with ---, our contracted landscaper. "....  "[The landscaping company] has offered as an explanation that they are experiencing labor problems due to their inability to obtain a sufficient number of H-2B visas to bring back trained and experienced workers from Mexico..." 


SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD, JANUARY 12, 2019:  A homeowner asked the Board president if [the landscaping company] had obtained the H-2B visas needed to ensure enough workers.  The Board president replied "the[landscaping company] informed the Board that they [the landscaping company] have plenty of staff and all workers would be certified to work in the U.S.."


The homeowner alerted the Board that many landscaping companies were going to have problems acquiring H-2B workers in 2019.


In other words, the homeowner gave the Board a "heads-up" in JANUARY 2019 to be attentive to the H-2B workers issue.  The homeowner was ignored.


How much HOA money has to be wasted on POOR CONTRACT NEGOTIATION and LACK OF FOLLOW-UP before the Board gets its act together?  The HOA's LARGEST SERVICE CONTRACT warrants good business judgment, follow-up, and timely monitoring.

what do you think? click to comment

Poor Business Judgement

In the past 2 years (2017 & 2018) we spent over $300,000 for consistently poor landscaping services and took no action.  We are now paying to repair and remediate the damage and neglect by the previous landscaping company which should have been addressed much sooner by the Board.

[Source(s):  2017 HOA Budget and 2018 HOA Budget]


Despite the disappointing service, in February 2018, the Board decided to “extend” the inadequate landscaping company’s contract for two more years.

[Source:  Special Meeting of the Board of Directors, February 10, 2018]

Too Little, Too Late

After two springs and two summers of lousy service and complaints from homeowners, the Board decided to finally address the costly and unsatisfactory landscaping service.  Because of the Board's lack of action, we continue to have poor lawn and soil conditions and the need  for expensive turf restoration. 

[Source(s):  Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, September 20, 2018; Board Briefs, October 16, 2018; 2019 HOA Budget]

Guide to Lawn Care in Pittsburgh

Homeowners Paying the Price $$$

So now, we are paying a “new” landscaping company over $205,000 to address the last 2 years of bad service and neglect.  Homeowners face higher landscaping costs which include attempts to remediate poor conditions due to the lack of performance and neglect of the 2017 & 2018 landscaping company.  

[Source:  2019 Budget;  Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

"Deja Vu All Over Again".....

The “new” company is actually the same company we were using in 2016. But wait...when three of our current board members were elected in 2017 they decided to not use this company. They were not happy with the company's performance. Now, we have rehired that company.

[Source(s):  Board of Directors Meeting Minutes  2/7/2017; 3/8/2017; 4/10/2017 

Special Meeting of the Board of Directors January 12, 2019;

Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

Summary: $205,980.03; Increase of $64,000 for 2019; $22,886.67/month

So, we paid over $300,000 to an inadequate landscaping company for 2 years only to fire them and “rehire” a company the Board did not want in 2017. We are paying that company at least $205,000 per year; a $64,000 increase for landscaping in 2019.  We can hope this "new" landscaping company will perform better.  THE HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT.

[Source(s):  See Above]

Fun Fact: Breach of Fiduciary Duty

HOA's and directors cannot act in an arbitrary and capricious manner toward individual homeowners, nor can they single out certain homeowners for disparate or discriminatory treatment.    

[Source: https://cooperator.com/article/is-your-board-carrying-out-its-fiduciary-duty/full]

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is serving on a committee limited to "Friends of the Board"

  Is it fair that one resident serves on multiple committees while another resident is denied -- numerous times -- the opportunity to serve on just one? 

  

Why would some units in the community have representation on two, even four, committees?   When other units have none… 


Why deny accomplished and experienced residents willing to serve on a committee the chance to contribute to the community?
 

Competent and knowledgeable residents have applied to serve on committees. Yet these qualified residents have been denied numerous times. At least one resident who applied (directly to the Board) to serve on a committee received no acknowledgment or explanation as to why they were being ignored. Others who applied to that same committee were contacted and interviewed. 

 
Recently, there have been appointments to multiple committees with no Board outreach to the community for volunteers. 

 
There should be equal opportunity for all qualified residents to apply and serve if a position on a committee becomes available.

  

Is the Board punishing the residents who dare to challenge them?

Must you be a board sycophant to be given a chance to serve on a committee?


The Board keeps re-appointing the same people to the same committees year after year. (Membership on a committee is for 2 years; but a member can be reappointed again and again....) That means no new ideas, fresh perspectives, or independent thinking.  Yet these committees help determine the rules you have to follow, priorities that are set, and how our money is spent.


Maybe some new, independent committee members would be a good idea to turn things around and create some benefit for our community.


Comments
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more ideas for the board (posted 4/25/2019)

1. Regular Property Inspections, Preventive Maintenance, and Timely Reports

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Create and implement a much-needed and overdue comprehensive, proactive and preventive inspection and maintenance plan to protect our homes, property values, and community property infrastructure.


 The board must have a plan to honor their responsibilities to the homeowners and follow a schedule for performing various repair and maintenance tasks in an orderly and comprehensive manner.

2. Better Oversight of Our Finances

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Establish a “Checks & Balances” approach to improve oversight of the HOA’s finances:


Please start to closely examine the monthly financial statements provided by the management company to ensure accuracy of numbers, proper accounting and prudent funds management.


Produce accurate, detailed and complete monthly financial statements for homeowner review. Statements should be promptly posted on the HOA website by the 15th of the month.


Please conduct monthly reviews of expenses, accounting ledgers and bank statements and perform bank reconciliations independent of what the management company reports.


UPDATE:  The Finance, Budget and Insurance Committee has adopted another of our ideas.  From the Finance Committee 4/26/2019 Notes:  "Committee member obtaining copies of recent HOA bank reconciliations from [the management company] to review and verify and will review them quarterly in the future." 

3. Open Board Meetings and Accurate Meeting Minutes

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Conduct all regular board meetings as open meetings.


Ensure that meeting minutes are accurate, complete and distributed in a timely fashion.

4. Give Homeowners a Voice and Provide Equal Treatment for All Homeowners.

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Invite, acknowledge and thoughtfully consider homeowner suggestions and
comments in the development of the community’s “Rules & Regulations.”


Provide opportunities for residents to interact with the board through informal homeowner forums.


 Discontinue selective enforcement of the Rules & Regulations and other community documents 

5. More Effective Contract Negotiation and Vendor Compliance

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Improve contract negotiations and perform detailed review and analysis of contracts BEFORE they are signed.

  

Monitor and supervise the performance of the management company and require their contract compliance.


Monitor the performance of all vendors to ensure contract compliance. We want to make sure we are getting what we’re paying for.



6. Better Organization and Management of the HOA's Documents

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Establish a secure electronic document management system.  Improve physical security of paper documents.


Organize. consolidate, and manage HOA documents to increase security and improve accessibility for homeowners. 

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HOA Board to homeowners: "Clean your own gutters."

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THE BOARD HAS ARBITRARILY DECIDED THAT GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS ARE NOT A PART OF YOUR ROOF.

THE BOARD ALSO SAYS THE REMOVAL OF ICE (AND ICE DAMS) FROM UNIT GUTTERS WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HOMEOWNER.


Homeowners are losing another "amenity" (exterior maintenance) they were promised when purchasing their homes.


However, some "lucky" homeowners received special consideration: There are ten months of Board-approved Property Reports that have recorded inspection, maintenance, and repair of gutters for "select" homeowners (at no charge).  Why not provide the same maintenance and service to all homeowners



$36 per year to have the HOA provide gutter/downspout maintenance. The Board Treasurer stated that $3 would need to be added to your monthly assessment fee if the HOA provides preventive maintenance of your gutters. This additional charge is unnecessary and a result of poor budget planning.


[The Board has decided to spend $4,000 to add a new sidewalk at the left side of the Clubhouse that a large number of residents do not think is necessary.  Few homeowners will use the sidewalk; all homeowners have gutters that require maintenance.]

$50-$75 (minimum) cost to homeowner for one yearly gutter inspection. $36 if the HOA does it.

....Or you can climb a ladder to inspect and clean the gutters yourself.

The Board is ignoring the Declaration and the HOA's documented maintenance responsibilities.

 [Remember:  You are paying for exterior maintenance that should be provided by the HOA.]

Maintenance is 70% of the community's 2019 expenses. Is that money being spent wisely or are homeowners' needs and welfare being ignored? 

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