Hill Condominium Owners Association
Synopsis and Draft May 15, 2004
Purpose and Summary
The purpose of this plan is to improve the quality of life at the Hill Condominiums and to
significantly increase the value of the Hill Condominiums.
The following basic problems and opportunities for improvement are addressed:
; Improving security with the near term help of All Secure and a full time live-in
; Improving the enforcement of our rules, especially those dealing with parking,
snow removal and the improper use of our landings – notably BBQs and
skis/snowboards/bikes etc. The poor enforcement of our rules and lack of
security has seriously degraded the quality of life at Hill Condos and given Hill
Condos a bad image which has adversely impacted the values of our
; Near term maintenance including new roofs, painting or siding, asphalt
resurfacing and striping, and maintenance of our landings.
; The installation of a trash compactor which should save us about $10,000 per year
and open up about 15 new parking places in the upper and lower lots. ; Improving our office management with better record keeping to provide
continuity when we change managers and board members and better enforcement
of our rules. Also, an improved definition of both manager and board member
; Several concepts for improving the units by adding windows, upgrading interiors,
and advertising to encourage owner investment and investment from prospective
; Proactive participation in the Big Sky community with BSOA, Big Sky Resort,
and other condomiums in the Mountain Village to deal with problems of mutual
interest such as security, the location of future ski lifts, improved sharing of
expenses for roads, police/fire response time, and dealing with neighborhood
; Three longer term real estate development projects:
; Renovation of the building exteriors and landings and the parking
lot requiring owner approval and financing. Possible installation
of a partial sprinkler system.
; Improving isolation from the Black Bear with the installation of a
22 stall garage and 50 outdoor storage lockers along the 300 ft
boarder with the Black Bear property. The garage complex will
also include a Laundromat and an HCOA office. This complex
will be paid for through the sale of the garages and lockers in a
closed auction for Hill Condo Owners.
; Development of our one acre overflow parking lot into a new 40
unit condominium. This new condominium will have amenities
including a restaurant, coffee shop, swimming pool, and hot tubs
which will be available for use by Hill Condominium owners and
tenants. This lot, which is worth 500,000+ together with our water
allocation, is approved by BSOA for condominium development.
; Finally, the plan includes a first cut a market analysis and financials.
Security, along with the enforcement of parking and snow removal, has a direct impact on quality of life at the Hill Condominiums. This year we hired All Secure to enforce our noise regulations which are quiet hours from 10:00 PM to 10:00AM and which are posted on every building. The board voted to fine without further warning, any noise violations occurring after 10:00PM. All Secure noted 16 violations occurring from December through April. 12 of these violations occurred between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM and included some fairly rowdy behavior like jumping off landings into snow banks and shooting fireworks off the decks. Fines were issued for all of the violations. (Regretfully due to a mixup with our manager, the fines were not issued until April, long after owners were able to take corrective action and we plan to correct this problem next year.) We had a great deal of positive feedback from owners on the security and plan to continue enlisting All Secure services next year. The cost for their services was approximately $8000.00. We are also switching to a full time live-in manager and hope that we can have security enforced by our manager beginning the year after next as do several other Condominiums. We are asking all owners for cooperation in this matter. Finally, we are hoping to work with BSOA in the coming year to get a cooperative effort in place between Mountain Village Condos and the Black Bear Inn to limit the noise and unruly behavior at closing.
Parking and Snow Removal and Landings.
This past year, we had serious problems with the enforcement of our parking and snow removal regulations. In addition, we had numerous incidents of people using BBQs on our landings which is a serious fire hazard.
These problems were partly due to policy and partly due to poor enforcement. We plan to make significant changes in both policy and enforcement in the coming year.
We have about 4 parking regulations: no parking without a pass, no blocking entrances or dumpsters, cars must be moved at least once per week. These laws, which are supposed to be enforced by our manager through warnings, fines, and towing, were virtually unenforced this past year. Part of the problem was the inability to get Canyon Towing to tow low value cars and the inability to get Madison county to tow low value and
abandoned cars out of our overflow lot. The primary problem, however, was a lack of enforcement with fines.
In the coming year, we will be making use of tire locks in addition to warnings and fines and towing. Stillwater Condominiums have had good success with this approach. Low value cars will be towed to the overflow lot and tire locked. Owners will pay the fine in addition to the cost of towing.
All cars will be issued one warning, except on snow removal days, and a computerized record will be kept on cars indicating the date, time, infraction, and license number. Fines will be issued to the owners. In the event a car is tire locked, owners and tenants will have to pay the fine before their car is released. In the beginning of the year, when owners request their passes, we will ask the owners to provide us with the license numbers of the cars they plan to park in our lot.
Finally, we hope to have all of the abandoned cars (about 15) removed from the overflow lot by this fall. Roughly 8 of these cars have Hill Condo Parking passes.
In the coming year, we will have a full time live-in manager to assist us with the enforcement of our parking regulations. We will ask all owners for support in restoring order to our parking lots.
Part of the problem with our snow removal this past year was due to the above parking problem. Part of the problem was people claiming they didn’t know which day we were
plowing. Since it takes almost an hour to tow a car out of our lot, the towing process took many hours at the same time the snow removal was taking place. Finally, our snow removal subcontractor had defective equipment for almost the entire year with the resulting build up of hard pack.
In the coming year, we are making two significant policy changes in snow removal. First, snowplowing will take place each week on the same days so owners and tenants will always know which days we are plowing. The upper lot and the overflow lot will be plowed on Thursday. The remainder of the lot will be plowed on Friday. All cars will be removed from the lots being plowed on the snow removal day.
By going to a two day plowing which is also done by Cedar Creek, it is possible to start later in the day. Towing will begin at 9:00 AM to give owners a chance to potentially move their cars to the lots not being plowed instead of having to find a place in the street or someone else’s lot and there will still be time to get the lot plowed. It should be
possible to get the lots plowed before 5:00 PM. This year, the plows were still plowing at 11:30PM after most cars had already returned to the lot and the result was an unsatisfactory job.
One of the problems with snow removal is where to put the snow. At present, we are using portions of the Black Bear property to the West and the open space to the East for
depositing the snow removed from our lots. While Black Bear has not complained, we probably could negotiate a property swap for the land we are using to deposit our snow in exchange for the land on our property which lies to the West of St. Christoph. I believe that BSOA can and will help us in the redrawing of property lines.
Probably the most serious violation of our landing rules was people using BBQs on the landings which is a fire hazard. This year we will have a full time live-in manager who will actually be there during the dinner hour to enforce this critical regulation. We ask
for owner support of this regulation. Because we do not have sprinklers, it will be almost impossible for the fire department to contain a building fire once it starts before the entire building is lost.
We also had unenforced violations involving people leaving garbage bags, bikes, skis, snowboards, and other miscellaneous stuff on the landings. This year we may make the shed for the dumpsters in the lower lot available for bike storage in the summer and wood storage in the winter. Our garage project, described below, will include 50 outdoor storage lockers and should also help to alleviate this problem if it is approved. In the meantime, we do plan to enforce our regulations relative to storage on the landings in the coming year.
Near Term Maintenance
This year, we obtained copies of the original structural drawings for our condominiums which were built in 1974. We also learned that the buildings were built to the prevailing structural code. While the buildings do not meet the current snow load requirements (They were designed to a 125psf load rather than the current 165psf load which was established in the 80s. 125psf is a large design snow load and corresponds to a 21 foot depth of snow of average density.) and earthquake loading requirements for the Mountain Village, they are grandfathered in as long as we do not make significant modifications to the roofs or structure. Even though the buildings do not meet the current snow load requirements, they have stood for 30 years without collapse. In fact, I measured beam deflections in our loft unit this year and found that the deflections were on the order of 1/16th of an inch which implies that the beams have a design load which is more than 10 times the snow load the building experienced this year when we had a lot of snow. Consulting support from the registered structural engineer who designed our condos refutes an earlier claim by CTA that our buildings are unsound structurally for static loads.
However, many of our buildings are in need of maintenance at this time. This summer, using the building reserves, we plan to redo 16 of the flat roofs (11 of which leaked this past year) with a more conventional design similar to design of the Lillehammer and Gailo buildings which were redone about 3 years ago. The new roofs will carry a 15 year labor and material warranty in the event of leaks. We plan to have the buildings professionally painted as there is peeling paint on the front and backs of almost all the buildings. Last year, our manager and one of our owners painted the fronts of all the
buildings but the surfaces were apparently not properly prepped according to one contractor with the result that most of them peeled this year. Finally, we plan to have our parking lot repaired and resurfaced. There are many cracks and a couple of large potholes in the asphalt surface and if the work is not done this summer, then we will have a major repair job ahead of us in the near future.
We would like to also redo the pitched roofs if possible this summer even though we only had two leaks this past year. The pitched roofs have only two inches of insulation and there is a large amount of ice build up. Snow and ice from the pitched roof slide down onto the chimney chase and force the chimney chase away from the building and cause damage to the siding and fascia boards. The amount of separation looks like a crack on the order of ? inch wide by several feet long but on inspection with the siding removed, it is apparent that the separation is more than one inch and that it has been going on for some time. Sometime in the last 20 years, the siding on the chimney chases was replaced with longer pieces to cover up the crack. The solution to this problem is complex and under study at this time.
The landings also need to be maintained. A few boards are broken and several of the railings are a little wobbly and should be reinforced. The landings also need to be sealed or repainted. Generally, however, the support structure for the landings is in excellent condition and the decking is a very solid tongue and groove fir or larch and should be useable for many years to come. Redoing the decking with a low maintenance synthetic material will cost approximately $200,000 and it is much more cost effective for us to repair the landings we have than to replace them.
We have had a couple instances of mold. One mold problem was in a crawl space where a water heater leaked. Two other crawl spaces were inspected and both were found to be dry and without mold. The second case of mold was in a ground floor studio unit along the baseboard molding. In the coming year, we plan to make a study of mold and the remedies for mold as well as determining our liability as an owners association for mold problems occurring in individual units.
This summer we are removing the four dumpsters and installing a single trash compactor similar to the one at the Mountain Inn. The compactor should reduce our estimated annual waste removal expense from $28,000 to $18,000 and it will cost us approximately $19,000 for the installation. This is an excellent return on investment and with the cost of waste going up, it will only get better.
In addition, we expect that the removal of the shed in the lower lot will open up about 10 new parking places. Also, there will be at least 4 or 5 more parking places in the upper lot restored because the places needed for accessing the dumpsters won’t be needed for accessing the compactor. This past year, because of parking problems, BFI was prevented from picking up our trash about 5 or 6 times. With the way the compactor is situated, this should no longer be a problem.
With the compactor, BFI should be coming about once a week rather than three times per week.
There will probably be some new regulations relative to the use of the compactor which we will post on the compactor. The compactor ram will be operated once or twice per day by the manager.
In the past it has been against the rules to dump couches, chairs, appliances, etc in or near the dumpster. This policy will remain in effect for the compactor but this year we will offer a dump run at minimal charge for people who want to get rid of these items but don’t have a pickup or trailer. Owners or tenants who need help with the removal of
large items can contact the manager. Cost of dumping couches etc is typically less than $10 at the Bozeman dump. Refrigerators cost about $90 to dispose of. Owners will only be expected to pay the landfill bill plus a $5 service charge.
We will look into recycling options.
One problem we have had is a lack of record keeping. Perhaps it has been because we needed to have a full time manager and this work fell of the list.
We have obtained a file cabinet with the intention of creating files for important documents including architectural drawings, surveys, contracts, contractors; individual unit records by year of fireplace inspections, violations, maintenance, building inspections; correspondence – with BSOA, Madison County, Big Sky Resort, other
Condos, our attorney, insurance, accounting, rules, by-laws, policies, …
We also need well organized electronic files and databases established. Electronic files will be especially useful in tracking violations such as cars which have not been moved in over a week or with multiple violations. For example, at this time, there are at least 14 cars, basically abandoned or not moved for several months. Eight of them have Hill Condo passes and the remainder just have license plate numbers. In part because we don’t keep good records, it is difficult to enforce our rules relating to cars which are not moved for over a week.
Electronic files also make it possible to quickly sort and identify units with multiple violations. For example, this year, of the 16 noise violations, it is possible on sorting the noise violations recorded in a spread sheet to quickly determine that half of the violations were caused by three units. Conceivably, this kind of information could be used to reallocate fines and the cost of our security to the units which are causing us the most trouble. It is very difficult to pull this kind of information out of a stack of hard copy security reports.
Another example where electronic filing would help us is in the area of fireplace inspections. This year, 25 owners failed to file validations that they had had their
fireplace inspected and cleaned in response to a board letter based on fire department inspections held two years ago. They were allowed to burn anyway in violation of the board directive sent to all the owners. This is partly a poor filing system and partly poor office management which we hope to address in the coming year with a full time manager.
Insurance overlap between unit owners’ policies and the HCOA insurance policy has
been an issue this past year. Our plan is to put our HCOA policy on the web site along with special notes to alert owners for areas of potential overlap. For example, our HCOA policy does not cover unit owners’ water heaters which are the property of the
individual unit owners. Somehow, through a mix-up, our insurance agent actually covered damage resulting from a unit owner’s water heater this year.
We need to better define responsibilities for the manager and for our board members. The manager’s responsibilities will be expanded specifically to include office
management such as the setting up of files and data bases. Board member responsibilities will also be further defined to include functions which are needed to attract unit owners with special skills to the board. For example, this year the architectural chair was made a member of the board. Other functions which need to be represented could include real estate development, finance, operations, public relations, and legal. Hopefully, we can figure out how to tap the expertise of our unit owners either by enlisting them as board members or as willing consultants to the board in these areas.
Eventually, we need an office. A place where we can store files, our computer, copier, fax, phone, desk, small conference room for meetings with board, contractors, security personnel, and a rest room. And a place for our manager to hang his hat. And a sign which says office and notes our office hours.
We have hired a full time live in manager who has a business degree and should be able to help set up our office files and records and who should also be able to handle our contract administration. If the garage concept is approved by owners, then it is possible that we will have an office the year after next. In the meantime, we will recommend to the owners that we consider the temporary rental of a studio or a loft unit for use as an office. Even a trailer would provide adequate space for an office on a temporary basis.
Encouraging Owner Investment
There is quite a range in the value of our studios and lofts. Lofts, for example, range from the 90s to 130s or more depending on how well they have been fixed up eg. Many have added second lofts and second bathrooms. Many studio and loft owners have made other improvements including new cabinetry, better lighting, additional windows, better floors,…
One of the greatest assets the Hill Condominiums have is fantastic post card views of the mountain village. About 30 to 40 windows have been added to the condominiums since they were originally constructed in 1974, mostly on the side or in the upper lofts.
Because of the post and beam structure of our buildings, it may be possible to add windows in the front and back walls adjacent to the 6’ x 6’ buildings in units which don’t have a view from the side.
Studio units have approximately 400 ft2 but two owners have combined adjacent studios to create 800 ft2 condos with two bathrooms and 2 to 3 bedrooms. These units could potentially have a variety of floor plans and add windows that would make them more valuable than our best loft units.
Presently, our condos are undervalued in comparison with other condos in the mountain village, most of which offer two or more bedrooms and two baths. One plan is to address the potential for upgrading our condos and encouraging owner investment would be to have an engineer/architect review the feasibility of some window options and floor plans. These options, together with pictures of some the nicer condos which have been fixed up and other information about the Hill Condos and the Mountain Village could be incorporated in a brochure which could be distributed to our present owners and to prospective buyers and real estate agents as a way of encouraging owner investment.
Improving our security, parking, snow removal, and maintenance of both the buildings and our property is also necessary to create the necessary environment for encouraging owner investment.
Proactive Participation in the Big Sky Mountain Village Community
Proactive participation in the Big Sky Mountain Village Community may provide us with a lot of opportunities. A recent survey showed that Hill Condos have over 10% of the “pillows” in the mountain village so we can, and in fact do, play a significant role in the development of the community.
Formation of a group of board members from the various condos in the mountain village to address problems of mutual interest such as security, the location of future ski lifts, improved sharing of expenses for roads, and dealing with neighborhood noise is a place to start. Almost all of the condos contacted this year have expressed a positive interest in the formation of such a group. This could be undertaken by a board member with an interest in public relations.
Participation in regular meetings with BSOA and Madison County and the Big Sky Resort is another area where we can get involved. The village is developing quickly with new condos going up in our back yard and new lifts are being planned without our knowledge or participation. Along with Bighorn, Lake, Stillwater, we pay over 90% of the road maintenance costs for the mountain village. (That is the RID80 issue) Plans were introduced this year to change a portion of Low Dog Road to one way which would have impacted traffic patterns on Sitting Bull Road – almost all traffic entering the
Mountain Village at the main entrance would have been forced to exit on Sitting Bull road. It is only by chance that we learned of this and were able to thwart that change which we think would have been a mistake not just for Hill Condos but for the entire
village. We need to figure out a way to get at least one of our 130 + owners involved. BSOA, Big Sky Resort, and Madison County will all have a major say on the real estate development plans discussed below and they also have to approve all of our exterior maintenance projects. Right now our overflow lot looks like a junk yard and having police cars come into our condos to quell noisy and unruly tenants and owners is not cool. We can become a significant positive force in our community by cleaning up our act and by getting involved.
Real Estate Development Projects
The board is chartered by our by-laws to maintain the Hill Condominiums in a first class manner. There are several projects, however, which go beyond maintenance which the board is considering and which will require owner approval because they involve changes to the “common elements” which include our parking areas and the building exteriors, or
which may require us to take out significant financing.
During the past two years, an architect was hired to plan a renovation of the Hill Condominiums. The scope included new roofs, decks with canopies, new siding and possibly stone on the lower portions of the buildings, outdoor storage lockers, a gated entry, and possibly some relandscaping of our parking lot to make it more efficient. The estimated budget for project was 1.8M and the plan was to take out a loan for the project. A survey of the owners was conducted and there were forty responses. The architect came up with a plan for cold roofs and canopies and a reclaimed wood siding approach which would have given the Hill Condos a new look and even a new theme. No detailed specifications were created, however, which could have been used for getting quotes and many basic problems we have were not addressed. Where it was originally assumed that we could proceed with the project without owner approval, it became apparent that it is necessary to have owner approval to borrow significant sums of money and to make alterations to the “common elements”. Some of the needs/wants (outdoor storage
lockers, a Laundromat, isolation from the Black Bear, and a gated entry) can accomplished with our garage project summarized in the following section.
We began a rescope of the renovation project in February. This rescope has focused on getting near term required maintenance accomplished to prevent the deterioration of our property. This includes dealing with leaky roofs, pealing paint, the repair and replacement of damaged siding and facia boards, and the repair of our parking lot. Much of this work will be accomplished this summer with funds already set aside in our reserves.
Several projects are being researched at this time which would require financing include residing with low maintenance siding and with stone or brick facing near the ground, redoing our landings with canopies to reduce our snow removal expense, and the installation of a sprinkling system. At the present time, our cedar siding is in good condition (some isolated boards which are either cracked or warped are being replaced) but needs to be painted. The cedar siding has not rotted, even on the lower levels where
it is covered with snow for most of the winter. Part of the reason for this is that when the siding was installed in 1985, it was dipped so that both sides were painted. The cedar siding, if properly maintained, will last for many years to come.
The need for a sprinkling system is that once a fire starts in a building, it takes about 11-12 minutes for the building, which does not have a sprinkling system, to be totally destroyed. Our fire department believes the soonest they can respond is about 15 to 20 minutes. There are a couple of options for the sprinkling systems. One would be an exterior system installed on our landings to prevent the spread of the fire to adjacent buildings. A second, probably prohibitively expensive, is to install sprinklers in every unit. A third is to somehow get a better alarm system. A fourth is to work with BSOA and other condos to get a more responsive fire department – e.g. full time personnel and
equipment located in the Mountain Village Fire Station. We are fortunate that Hill Condos have had one of the best track records in the Mountain Village relative to fire.
Isolation From the Black Bear
A garage complex approximately 260 feet long along the western boundary of our property has been proposed to isolate us from the Black Bear. There will be about 22 garages in this complex. The garages will have a sloped roof nominally matching the pitch on our current sloped roofs. The sloped roofs will create an attic space above the garages which will be partitioned into about 50 outdoor storage lockers. The garages and the lockers will be sold at auction to owners of Hill Condominiums to pay for the project. The complex will include a small Laundromat and an office for the Hill Condominiums. Finally, as part this project, we can include a gated entry which, together with the garages, will add isolation and a feeling of privacy to our Hill Condominium complex. (It should absolutely stop the traffic of motorcycles, snowmobiles, 4 wheelers, motor scooters, and littering drunks up and down the embankment between our parking lot ant the Black Bear parking lot.) We anticipate that the auction of the garages and the outdoor lockers will raise considerably more money than is required for the construction. Owner approval will be required because of the use of the land which is a common element. All owners will benefit, whether or not they choose to buy a garage or locker, because of the improved isolation from the Black Bear, the Laundromat, the new HCOA Office, and the gated entry. We also think the project will have a positive impact on the Hill Condominium values, not just for owners who choose to buy lockers and garages, but for all owners.
We have initial indications from BSOA that they would look favorably on this project and grant us the setback variances that we would require. Next step is to have conceptual plans drawn up with estimates and go out to the owners and BSOA for formal approval and run the auction. No HCOA financing should be required with the garages and lockers sold in advance of the construction.
Condominium Project for Overflow Parking Lot
Our overflow lot is a one acre triangular piece of property directly across Sitting Bull Road from our main 4 acre parcel on which our 18 buildings are located. The lot, together with our excess of 43 SFE water units, is probably worth more than $500,000.