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Bringing you chapter updates from volunteer leaders as well as tips from our Elite Supporting Partners on topics in their area of expertise.


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An Update from the CAI-NC Board of Directors

Posted By Cynthia Jones, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A quick update from CAI-NC Board of Directors member Cynthia Jones (Sellers, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons PA). 



Tags:  cai-nc  cai-nc board  cai-nc minute  community association management  community associations institute 

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Soil is ALIVE... and it's Hungry!

Posted By Basil Camu, Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2020

Did you know that soil is alive?

That’s right – the healthy soil we find on the forest floor and in well-tended gardens is actually a living, breathing, eating organism.
Before you picture a giant soil monster living underground, let’s take a closer look at what is right under your feet.

Why do we talk about soil so often if our goal is to care for trees?

Just like humans, healthy trees need a wide variety of nutrients to thrive. Since we can’t just give trees a hearty salad or gummy vitamins, where do these nutrients come from? They come from rotting stuff like leaves or compost or wood chips that are the foundation of healthy soil.


So what is healthy soil? 
Let’s look at the basics:

  • Healthy soil starts with material like leaves or compost or wood chips.
  • This material rots and is broken down into food for microscopic creatures.
  • Those tiny creatures are food for larger creatues, such as earthworms.
  • Each of these interactions unlock nutrients for the tree. For example, after earthworms eat, they leave waste behind, called worm castings. Worm castings are full of amazing nutrients that can be easily absorbed by tree roots.

When this process is complete, tree roots can access the nutrients found in leaves, compost, or wood chips. But this only works if your soil includes all of the components needed to break down the whole material.


This is why it is so important to feed your soil.

Without all the rotting stuff and the tiny little creatures working together, your tree doesn’t get the necessary nutrients.


If you want to think about this process another way, think about your favorite meal. Then think about how inedible it would be if it were just the raw ingredients. Just like soil, we need to have a specific list of ingredients, processed in a certain way for food to be edible.

For example, let’s swap out rich, healthy soil with a rich, healthy lasagna. Close your eyes and imagine a homemade veggie lasagna hot out of the oven complete with gooey cheese and buttery pasta. That lasagna is delicious, healthy, and full of nutrients.

What would it be like if that soil -- I mean -- lasagna, was unprocessed? Now close your eyes and imagine the raw ingredients that go into lasagna. A plate piled with stalks of wheat, an unripe tomato, and a raw egg is not edible. We can only get nutrients out of the cooked lasagna in the same way that trees can only get nutrients out of healthy soil.

Trees are only as healthy as their soil. If you don’t feed the soil, your trees won’t be healthy. Healthy soil, happy trees.

Tags:  cai-nc  cai-nc minute  community association management  community associations  community managers 

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Budgeting for Capital Repairs

Posted By Kevin Giles, Giles Flythe Engineers, Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2020

Is your association considering some capital repairs and needs guidance for planning? Kevin Giles (Giles Flythe Engineers) talks you through it in today's CAI-NC Minute.


Kevin Giles - CAI-Minute Giles Flythe Engineers from Amy Morrison on Vimeo.

Tags:  cai-nc  cai-nc minute  capital repairs  community association management  community associations  community associations institute  community managers  condominium associations  hoa  homeowners associations  reserve studies 

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Using Technology to ACTUALLY Make Your Life Easier

Posted By Tyler Graybeal, Co-Owner Southern Outdoor Restoration, Wednesday, April 8, 2020
The world of technology and software is changing every day.  The volume of options and the rate of change can be overwhelming.  
At SOR, we're not just pressure washers.  We're also nerds.  Nerds who love efficiency, consistency, and happy community managers.
Our team pressure washed over 16,000 townhome units last year and we'd like to share with you two pieces of the technology/software used to deliver smooth projects that you can easily apply to other services and projects in your communities.
For everyone that has worked with us, you know that we LOVE and rely heavily on Google Maps.
1) Use Google Maps when on the Google Chrome browser (other browser options are not optimized to run the mapping software).
2) Use Google StreetView, the 3D options, and the 360 rotation tools 
3) Build your own maps by going to "Google Maps > Menu > Your Places > Maps > Create a Map."  Then use the "Share" feature for internal and external use.
- Creating a scope map for your vendors (such as a map of the trees that need pruning) to ensure apples-to-apples bids
- Checking which units might need gutter cleaning more often based on tree lines
- Confirming unit counts
- Creating a color-coded schedule map for the annual termite inspection
- Showing new residents where amenities such as playground and walking trails/bridges are
- Creating paint phases in a platform that everyone can access (manager, board, residents, current vendor, future vendor)

Digital communication is great.  It can be easily searched, copied/pasted, compiled, analyzed, and reported on.

1) Find a platform that has a spreadsheet export or integration option.  Having data is very different from using data.  Google Forms, Wufoo, and TypeForm are all great options here.
2) Use specific "Field Types" such as address, phone number, count, multiple choice, and checkboxes whenever possible.  Doing so will allow you to more easily use the data from your submissions.
3) Be consistent with your method of delivery.  Whether it's email, TownSq, Nabor, a Community Website through CINC, or texting, make sure your residents are used to getting info from you the same way every time.  
- Highest and best use here is to get a Resident Question/Comment form built for every large project and have it routed to the vendor!  You are already going to forward the resident email you get to the vendor and say "See below.  Please advise."  Save everyone the extra time and headache.  Trust good vendors to handle the communication promptly and professionally.
- Board Member nominations
- ARC Requests
- Anything where you are sending a paper form that you have to transcribe into a different system later!
In the world where Amazon and Uber are essentially public utilities, there is a growing expectation for real-time transparency during the fulfillment of any project or service.  The innovation work has already been done by the software developers in Silicon Valley.  The burden of implementation is on us.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
- Peter Drucker 

Tags:  cai-nc  cai-nc minute  comm  community association management 

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Reserve Study, Technical Study: What's the Difference?

Posted By Peter Miller, Miller Dodson Associates Inc., Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Reserve Studies are not a substitute for more in-depth Technical Studies, but they work hand-in-hand!

Boards too often confuse the role of the Reserve Study with the role of other, more in-depth technical consultations. "We don't need to hire this or that engineer because the Reserve Study will cover that!" WRONG! They serve two distinct purposes and one does not provide the same benefits as the other, although it is somewhat understandable since each is done with elements of engineering, architecture and/or other technical knowledge.

A Reserve Study, while  based upon visual observations of physical conditions, is intended as a financial recommendation for budgeting purposes, i.e., a financial planning tool. Frequently, when physical conditions warrant, the Reserve Study may recommend further, more in-depth technical inspections. But the intent of these more in-depth technical studies is to help "inform" the Reserve Study and to increase the accuracy of its recommendations. Board members and management professionals should view their Reserve Specialist as being similar to their medical general practitioner. The Reserve Specialist will visually assess the physical condition of the Association's common- and limited-common elements. And if it is felt that further investigation is indicated, just like the GP, they will recommend the services of certain "specialists." Once those specialists, i.e., architects, engineers, roof or masonry or lake and pond consultants, etc., have completed their investigation, then those results will be used to confirm or modify the initial recommendations.

A seminar which several colleagues and I presented at another CAI Chapter's 2019 Annual Conference explored the topic "Why Aren't Reserve Studies More Accurate?" The main point was that, all too often, Boards would not spend the money to hire additional consultants; they expected the Reserve Specialist to "know it all"! It was the perfect opportunity to shine a light on what I consider the two biggest fallacies in the Reserve Study world. The first is that the Reserve Specialist in an all-knowing, prescient being who can tell you everything you need to know about your community association's common- and limited-common elements. The second fallacy is that you can actually hire this omniscient, all-knowing being simply based on the proposal's bottom line!

It will sometimes require a team of experts to determine all the issues necessary to provide an accurate and realistic Reserve Study.  This is true for all types of associations! The small association with a entrance sign and a storm water pond will often need these in-depth examinations just as much as the large-scale association, or the townhouse, mid-rise, or high-rise condo.

For instance, it is important to the accuracy of the Reserve Study funding recommendations to establish a baseline for the storm water ponds; and the earlier in the existence of an Association's pond(s) the better. The most effective way to do this is by conducting a bathymetric study of each pond.[1] This will note only help establish that bottom contour baseline, but it will identify areas where sedimentation can be mitigated to extend the time until dredging will be necessary. Otherwise, the estimated funding requirements are simply an educated guess. And when something as potentially expensive as pond dredging is at stake, accuracy is important.

So it is important to not only understand the vital role of the Reserve Study, it is also important to have realistic expectations as to what the Reserve Study does, and what role the other possible consultants play in the accuracy of the Reserve Study Funding Recommendations.


Peter B. Miller, RS, has been a member of the NC Chapter of CAI for more than 20 years. An Architect in his previous career, Peter has been conducting Reserve Studies for over 25 years. Peter currently serves on the Board of Trustees of CAI National, he is the 2020 Chair of the Business Partners' Council, and is a member of the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR).

[1] Because of the cost of the technology, Bathymetric Studies used to be the sole purview of Government Agencies like NOAA and the US Army Corps of Engineers for mapping bottom contours of our Nation's navigable waterways. The technology is now available and affordable enough to be done on an individual pond basis.


Tags:  cai-nc minute  community association management  community associations  community management  community managers  condominium associations  hoa  homeowners associations  NC HOA Law Blog  reserve studies 

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The Complete Guide to Spring Cleanup

Posted By Kim Aguilar - Brightview Landscaping, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2020


The Complete Guide to Spring Landscape Clean-Up

You’re getting warmer…

If you’re feeling ready to shake off the winter chill, chances are your landscape is, too. Help it emerge from the frigid temperatures in glorious form with a proper spring clean-up. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to help your landscape look as good as the warmer weather will feel. Come late February through early April, it’s game time. Ready, set… go!

Get Rid of Dead Weight

Herbaceous plants (those without woody stems) such as ornamental grasses and perennials should be cut back to a few inches above the soil line. You don’t have to worry about getting the timing just right; as long as significant new growth hasn’t yet emerged from the ground, you’re fine to cut back.

For shrubs that bloom on new growth, winter is the right time to prune a little or a lot depending on the plant and the effect you want. Be sure to prune these plants before new growth emerges in the spring.

Plants that bloom on new growth include:

  • Roses
  • Abelia
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Blue Mist Shrub
  • Vitex or Chaste Tree
  • PG and Annabelle Hydrangea
  • St. John’s Wort or Hypericum
  • Rose-of-Sharon
  • Beautyberry

Evergreen shrubs don’t normally need a lot of attention but winter is a great time to shape and reduce their height if necessary. Give attention to Boxwood, Hollies, Euonymus, Privet, Juniper and Photinia.

Be a Little Edgy

Before you place new mulch, take a look at your bed edges. If your beds look like they could use a cleaner edge, now is the time to add definition. Doing it now before laying down new mulch will ensure the mulch stays in its intended location and grass and groundcover don’t wander.

To make a new edge, use a straight shovel and cut straight down 3 to 4 inches. Remove the grass clumps and place them in low areas in the lawn or divots from snow plows. Don’t throw the grass clump/soil away. Take the grass/soil clump and place upside down in the beds and cover with mulch.

Yank Those Weeds

It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating: remove weeds as soon as they appear. They will only get bigger. Some are winter weeds that germinated last fall and will spring into action as soon as the weather warms. Throwing mulch on top won’t make them go away. Proper removal requires a trowel or small weeding device to remove them, roots and all.

A pre-emergent herbicide can be applied to the surface of the soil after all the weeds have been removed but before laying down mulch. When a pre-emergent herbicide is applied to beds, tree rings and pavement cracks and curbs, it will stop weed seeds from germinating.

Create Fertile Ground

Not all plants require additional nutrients, but for those that do, spring is the time to do it. Most perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and ornamental flowering plants, like Roses, Abelia, Spirea, Azalea, Hydrangea, Forsythia, and Viburnum, benefit from a slow-release fertilizer placed under the mulch following site clean-up.  Don’t worry about fertilizing ornamental grasses and larger trees in turf areas, which will receive all the nutrients they need from your turf fertilizer. 

Find a fertilizer low in nitrogen (the first number) (5-10-5, 6-10-4) with at least 50% slow release nitrogen.  Heavy feeders, such as roses, may need an additional application in a couple months.

And Finally, Mulch

Last, but not least, it’s time to mulch. Mulch is the super multi-tasker of your landscape. Mulch suppresses weed growth, reduces soil temperatures, retains moisture in the soil, reduces soil erosion, and enhances the curb appeal of your property.

Shredded hardwood is used in most areas, while many in the South use pine straw. These are excellent in shrub beds and around trees. For perennial beds, you should use a leaf mold, pine fines, compost or cocoa hulls.  Whatever mulch you choose, make sure to apply it at the correct depth. The general rule of thumb is approximately 1-2 inches, though this can vary from plant to plant. For instance, 2 inches is a good estimate for many larger shrubs and trees, but may be too much for certain perennials or smaller, shallow-rooted shrubs. The key is to avoid piling mulch around the base of your trees, shrubs, or plants, as it can cause roots to suffocate and invite other problems like pests and stem cankers.

One final note—you don’t need to apply 2 inches of mulch each spring; you simply need to maintain the correct depth for your particular plants. This means augmenting your old mulch with new.


Follow these steps, and you’ll have a spring in your step in no time. 

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2020 Law Day Events Draw More Than 500

Posted By Amy Morrison, Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wow! More than 500 people will participate in our “Community Association Law Day” events in the next 2 weeks. Helping board members and managers do their jobs better is the reason CAI is here!


We thank the 25 attorneys and insurance pros who will offer a smorgasbord of 16 topics. Click the image below/above to hear a quick personal message from two of our presenters.


(The deadline to register for the March 13 Raleigh event is Friday, March 6.)


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A Welcome Message from your Chapter President

Posted By Hope Carmichael, Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I’m happy to kick off our new “CAI-NC Minute” series to talk about the strategy and vision your Board of Directors has for our chapter. Ever wonder what your CAI board is thinking about?  We’re thinking about you – the hardworking women and men who volunteer on your HOA boards and work to serve community associations across North Carolina. 

Tags:  cai-nc minute  community association management  community associations  community management  community managers  condominium associations  hoa  homeowners associations 

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more Calendar

CONFERENCE SESSION WEBINAR "Meetings and Violation Hearings in a COVID-19 World"

CONFERENCE SESSION WEBINAR: "A Fresh Look at Insurance Basics: Protecting Your Association Today"

CONFERENCE SESSION WEBINAR: "Association Collection Strategies in the Age of COVID-19"

CONFERENCE SESSION WEBINAR: "Mischief Managed: Practical Solutions for Managing Association Mayhem"

 Why become a member of CAI?

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