Pamela Dittmer McKuen writes about residential real estate, home design trends and community associations for the Chicago Tribune and ...

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Pamela Dittmer McKuen

Pamela Dittmer McKuen

Community Living

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Drones present opportunity, challenge for community associations

Drones present opportunity, challenge for community associations

March 24, 2015

In the not-too-distant future, community associations could launch camera-equipped, unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, for many routine tasks. They will be able to examine buildings for leaks and damage, check on the performances of contractors and find illegal barbecue grills on upper balconies.

  • Operating, reserve funds must be kept in separate accounts

    March 9, 2015

    Community associations need two pots of money, an operating account and a reserve account. The first is for paying day-to-day bills, and the second is for occasional big-ticket items like roofs and boilers.

  • Owners should take active role in association

    February 24, 2015

    A common misconception about the community association lifestyle is you don't have to do anything. Taking care of the property is someone else's job, or so many buyers believe. It's not true.

  • Deadline looms for large residential buildings to report energy use

    February 10, 2015

    The second stage of Chicago's Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance has kicked in, and for the first time many residential buildings must comply. Residential buildings include condominiums, co-operatives and apartments.

  • Preparing your association for electronic communications

    January 26, 2015

    Illinois community associations may now communicate electronically with their owners, but that doesn't mean they can cut their paper and postage budgets. Many practical details must be worked out before any savings are realized.

  • Take time to find the right property management company

    January 12, 2015

    Choosing a manager is one of the most important decisions a community association will make. Because managers are closely involved in daily functions and future planning, their performance — or lack thereof — has a major effect on the association's financial stability and resident satisfaction.

  • Deadline nears for Chicago high-rises to comply with safety ordinance

    November 17, 2014

    Chicago's oldest high-rises are running out of time to comply with the Life Safety Evaluation Ordinance. Owners have until year's end to make their buildings safer in event of a fire.

  • Avoiding common mistakes that board members make

    November 6, 2014

    Most board members at community associations are well-intended homeowners who want to do a good job. But few have expertise in property management, much less the legal and financial nuances of their decisions. Mistakes frequently occur.

  • Rating system evaluates community associations

    October 21, 2014

    When shopping for a condominium or town house, checking out living spaces is easy. But getting information about building maintenance or the inner workings of the association is much harder. Until now.

  • Community association experts share their savvy

    October 11, 2014

    Get a bunch of community association homeowners in a room and what do they talk about? Money, money and snow.

  • Tips for preparing next year's association budget

    September 26, 2014

    For most community associations, cooler weather signals the start of budget season. It's the time of year when boards and finance committees hammer out the next year's expenses and income.

  • Associations beefing up reserve accounts, report shows

    September 12, 2014

    Condominium assessments continue to go up, and so do the bills for taking care of the buildings.

  • Manager licensing act going through revisions

    August 29, 2014

    The Community Association Manager Licensing and Disciplinary Act is undergoing its first major revision.

  • Social media plays a bigger role in engaging associations

    August 4, 2014

    The communications mainstay for community associations long has been the printed newsletter, either mailed to owners or slipped under doors.

  • A deep divide over condo foreclosure bill

    July 20, 2014

    An Illinois bill awaiting the governor's signature or veto has deeply divided a constituency with a shared goal: getting new owners into foreclosed condominiums.

  • Understanding reserve and operating accounts

    July 6, 2014

    Well-run community associations keep two pots of money. One is the operating account, used for the day-to-day costs of running the association and maintaining the property. The other is the reserve account, which is earmarked for the repair and replacement of big-ticket common elements.

  • Fact book an eye-opener on community associations

    June 20, 2014

    A community association is a popular lifestyle choice for many people, but it has been difficult to determine just how many — until now.

  • Know what to look for when dealing with contractors

    June 6, 2014

    Community associations hire dozens of contractors to perform myriad maintenance and administrative tasks.

  • Term limits for board members have pros, cons

    May 27, 2014

    Longtime board members can be a strong asset to a community association. They often are well-versed in the property's daily operations, policies, procedures, finances and building construction. They may know many, if not all, the residents by name and unit number, and perhaps even their pets.

  • Adhering to pool safety can reduce your liability

    May 14, 2014

    With the harsh winter finally behind us, here's a refreshing thought: Outdoor swimming pools will open in a couple of weeks. Community associations and their crews are bustling to get facilities in tiptop shape for Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the season.

  • Creating sound policies for owners with disabilities

    April 27, 2014

    Asked for accommodations by owners who claim disabilities, community associations often respond in one of two ways: They take a hard line and deny all requests, or they always say yes for fear of lawsuits.

  • Industry pros tackle questions for free in online forum

    April 13, 2014

    Got a question about how your community association should spend its money or run an election? Or what kinds of insurance you need?

  • Court rules in favor of association in assessment case

    March 30, 2014

    Condominium owners cannot stop paying their assessments because they are unhappy about how the property is taken care of, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled March 20.

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