Looking to install that flowerbed wall you always wanted? Maybe the pool you’ve been saving up for?

If you live in an HOA, the first step is to ensure your project is approved by the architectural committee of your association before construction begins!

Nearly every horror story you’ve heard about architectural projects gone bad could’ve been avoided if the homeowners simply would’ve had the project approved prior to installation.

Your Homeowner’s Association is ultimately in the business of protecting your home values. One of the primary ways this is done is by upholding the existing standards in your community. This helps ensure that home values are upheld on a community-wide level so that you may hopefully yield the highest return on your investment should you ever choose to sell your home.

We do the heavy-lifting for you in facilitating the process of approval, but there are three essential ingredients in helping us get your project pushed through as quickly as possible.

  1. What are you doing? This step is easy. We’re putting in a flowerbed wall.

  2. Where’s it going? The best way to address this question is to make a copy of your survey site plan (sometimes referred to as a plat plan) and mark the area you intend to place your project.

  3. What is it going to look like? Here’s where the devil is in the details. The committee needs the materials, dimensions and specifications. If you’re having a professional install your project, the simplest thing to do is attach a PDF copy of the specifications they provided you at the time of the estimate.

For the flowerbed wall example, including the height and the width of the wall, as well as what type of brick or stone would be used, will aid the committee in making a quick decision. Also, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. There's a good chance you're not the first person in the neighborhood with this particular project. In which case, find another home in the community with a similar installation and snap a photo saying, “this is the look we’re shooting for.”

When you have everything together, simply go to the Architectural Request Form and fill out the required information. We will put everything together and submit your project to the committee for review and processing.

Once your project has been processed, we will send you an email, as well as a hard-copy of the committee’s response.

Keep in mind that if your community is under homeowner control (meaning you have a homeowner board of directors), homeowners just like yourself are having to make critical decisions about architectural projects that will affect the future of your community. If you wouldn't feel confident making a decision about your project based on the information you provided, there's a pretty good chance the committee will require more information as well.

To ensure efficient processing, include as much information the first time you submit your project to avoid having to provide additional information in order to gain approval.

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We find ourselves in the throes of Annual Billing season once again, and one of the most common questions we receive around this time is, “What exactly are my assessments paying for?”

The shortest route to the answer is to look at the fiscal year-end financial included in your assessment mailing. Every line item represents an aspect of managing your community that we facilitate on behalf of your HOA.

If your community comes with a combination of entry features, pools, ponds and walking trails, it’s not too difficult to pinpoint where the bulk of your operating expenses are going. However, some communities have little if any common area or amenities, yet they remain a deed restricted (HOA) community nonetheless.

From a financial perspective, the bigger the annual budget, the higher the assessment will be. Yet there are Associations where the bulk of the assessment is attributed to a little bit of landscape, insurance and a management fee for the facilitation of Association business and accounting.

Oftentimes homeowners wonder why their assessment seems high compared to another community in the area with more amenities. There are several factors that impact assessment amounts. The main consideration is the amount of common area and amenities in relationship to how many owners are in the subdivision.

For example, if an Association has a $120,000 budget and 200 homes in the community, the annual assessment for each owner would be around $600.00. However, if another community has an identical budget with the same amenities, but they have 400 homeowners, their annual assessment is likely cut in half because twice as many owners are contributing.

You also need to consider big ticket items that depreciate over time such as entrance gates and street repair. Street repair may not be much of an expense for 10 to 15 years, but when repairs become necessary, the Association is going to have to allocate a significant amount of funds.

The Association is then faced with two choices. 1) They can keep the assessments at a rate that allows them to allocate sufficient reserves to be able to cover the cost of future repairs. 2) They decrease the assessment amount. However, they do run the risk of not having enough reserves.

In which case, they would eventually need to call for a special assessment. The primary difference between an annual assessment and a special assessment is that your annual assessment is generally a reasonable amount of money paid out on an annual basis. A special assessment is when the Association is forced to send an invoice to a homeowner for unexpected repairs that the current cash on hand was not prepared to meet.

In the end, your board of directors is tasked with ensuring both the long and the short-term financial health of your Association. Both your Treasurer and your Management Company have gone great lengths to work toward fiscal fitness within the parameters they’re given.

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Just in time for the New Year, we're excited to roll out the new and improved www.GulfPPM.com!

For the deep-divers who want to fully understand the roll of the Community Association, the Management Company and the particulars of Association Governance, we invite you to check out the section called "Homeowner's Association --- 101" here. This section will give you a basic overview of all things Homeowners Association.

If you're planning the installation of an architectural element on your property, you need to submit an architectural request form here. Be sure to wait for your approval letter prior to purchase and construction. You can also access all management office forms such as the architectural request form, the maintenance request form, the information request form and the report a violation form simply by clicking the "Homeowners" button in the Gulf logo on our homepage.

If you wish to pay your association assessment online, simply go to the homepage, hover your mouse over the "Our Services" tab, and click "Pay Online."

Your Community also has a portal containing all governing documents specific to your association, a calendar of upcoming events and other information pertaining to your neighborhood HOA. To access your Community's portal, hover your mouse over the "Communities" tab on the main menu and click on the name of your Community. To gain access to all of the site's features, click the "Log In" button next to the Association's name, and click "Sign-Up". Once your log in information is verified, you will be able to access all of your websites features. The sites are optimized for access whether you're on your home computer, or wish to log in on your smart phone.

Finally, if you simply wish to get a hold of us, you can always reach out by email at customerservice@GulfPPM.com, by phone at (469) 600-5080 or click the "Contact Us" tab in the main menu.

We wish each and every one of our homeowners a happy and prosperous new year! Thank you for being part of the Gulf PPM family!

Kris Grooms, CMCA

Director of Community Association Management

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