Lifestyle Blog

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Over 30 years experience in property and community association management Professional Community Association Manager through the Community Association Institute (CAI) Former GM/CEO of a large-scale association: mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational Contributor to HOALeader.com National industry experience

Recent Posts

Five Ways to Make the Most Out Of Small Outdoor Spaces

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Sep 25, 2019 7:42:00 AM

No matter how small your patio might be, it's possible to transform it from one of those small common spaces you see in your neighborhood to a tastefully decorated outdoor space. While you may not have all the room you need to turn your dream backyard into reality; a small outdoor space gives you a chance to create a cozy little slice of heaven for you and your household. If you have no idea where to start, here are a few creative ideas to get you started. 

How to Spice up Your Small Outdoor Space

Spicing up your small space and turning it into an irresistible hangout is no rocket science and neither does it require a considerable budget. You just need a few tricks up your sleeve  as described herein, and you'll be good to go

Let an In-Built Bench Do the Magic

If your patio is incredibly tight on space, then an in-built bench is a great way to make the most out of it. Such a bench is usually customized to fit into your space, which makes it even more ideal as you get total control on how you want it to look. For a contemporary and vintage look, go for an inbuilt wooden bench and then later bring in a table and one or two stools to create the perfect chill spot. While at it, keep in mind that accessories will make your space appear bigger and cozier. Hence, dress up your bench by adding a few pillows, throws, and a beautiful rug to maximize comfort.

Create an Optical Illusion living

Living in a luxury condo managed by community associations comes with a whole bunch of perks. For instance you never have to stress about security, maintenance or upkeep. As a result, they're quite popular and demand is high. To satisfy this demand, HOAs are often left with no option but to reduce square footage which in turn means residents share common spaces and get smaller private outdoor yards.

Nonetheless just because the patio is small doesn't mean you forego the benefits that come with living in such a community. You can still enjoy these perks and at the same time the pleasure of having ample outdoor space by creating an optical illusion.  There are many ways to trick the eye, but one of the most effective is using bright colors.

For instance, the blue color tends to blend with the sky visually. Hence, painting your wall blue hides its hard edges, creating an illusion of a bigger space. Painting your deck with other bright colors also achieves the same effect.

If plants are your cup of tea, you can also use them to create an optical illusion of a bigger space by going vertical. Get yourself a few potted plants and create a beautiful hanging garden. Adding a few potted plants on your wall adds height and also draws the attention of your visitors away from the small space.

This, combined with the bright colors, is guaranteed to make small community spaces appear bigger. You can also place a few potted plants on the floor. However, be careful as too many potted plants will quickly clutter your space up, making it look smaller, which is what you're trying to avoid in the first place.

Screen Your Space 

In small common spaces, privacy might seem like an elusive pipe dream. However, with outdoor drapery panels, a lattice panel screen or a DIY bamboo screen you'll stylishly keep your business under wraps from nosey neighbors. For instance, outdoor drapes will give your small space an elegant and homely touch. If you have nowhere to hang the drapes, you can use the alternatives or get to work by installing a wood frame.

Let a hot-tub Reign

After a long day, we all want to come home to a long relaxing hot shower and then later slip into our pajamas. If you have a small balcony, you can make your evenings even more exciting by getting a medium sized hot tub. With this, every day will be a spa day for you and your significant other.

We believe there's no better way to unwind than sitting in a hot tub in the evening, sipping your favorite drink while enjoying views from your balcony and catching up with your spouse or friends. Spice up things by adding essential oils to your water to make the scene even more relaxing and thank us later!

But before anything ensure you consult the property managers to avoid sticky situations. Also, don't forget to screen your balcony for privacy sake!

Hammocks All the Way!

Again if you only remember you have a balcony when it's too hot inside, then a hammock is also a simple yet sophisticated way to enjoy your summer naps and get tanned. Bring in a hammock and install it on your favorite spot on your balcony. To create a complete impression of your own small jungle world, bring in faux grass and add a few faux plants and your summer naps will never be the same again.

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Topics: HOA | Condo Amenity and Common Areas

Where Should an HOA Board Begin with a Capital Project ?

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Sep 11, 2019 8:23:00 AM

A capital project is a specific plan for making improvements or adding new features to common areas in your HOA. The decision to proceed with a large project is a commitment to the extra time and funds required to get the job done. For board members, tackling a large scale project is often a daunting task. By conducting research, outlining the process, and setting goals, your board can start to improve the association for everyone. 

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Topics: HOA | Condo Board Responsibilities and Education, HOA | Condo Developing Communities

High-Rise Security and Privacy Concerns: Best Practices for Better Safety

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Aug 28, 2019 8:09:00 AM

Living on an upper floor in a high-rise building presents different challenges for security and privacy than a single-family home. There are several reasons why proactive security and privacy measures are smart for association members. While it is impossible to keep everyone safe from harm at all times, there are ways condo association board members can safeguard against disaster. 

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Topics: HOA | Condo Amenity and Common Areas, HOA | Condo Emergency and Safety

Golf Course & Community Liability: Who is Responsible When Balls Do Damage

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Aug 14, 2019 7:42:00 AM

Living near a golf course is a dream for those who love to play the popular sport. When the swing of a golf club sends a ball through a nearby window or into a car, questions of liability quickly arise. Someone must pay for the repairs and discovering who the responsibility belongs to isn't easy. There are a variety of circumstances that contribute to finding fault and each case is different. Let's take a closer look at how an errant golf ball can result in finger-pointing and a blame game that delays repairs and creates tension among HOA members

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Topics: HOA | Condo Homeowner Responsibilities & Education, HOA | Condo Other

The Most Common HOA Board Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 31, 2019 7:57:00 AM

Joining your HOA board is a great way to take more responsibility. However, many new HOA board members will make mistakes, ranging from minor to serious. The board itself often runs into errors, especially in areas such as rule enforcement. Here are some of the most common HOA board mistakes and some things you can do.

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Topics: HOA | Condo Board Responsibilities and Education

Every HOA Needs a Gardening Policy for Planting in Common Areas

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 17, 2019 8:01:00 AM

Each year many owners want their beautification efforts to extend beyond their private yards. Without a gardening policy for common areas, an HOA is likely to experience one of two undesirable outcomes. The HOA board has to take on the time-consuming task of approving plantings on a case-by-case basis. Since there's no policy, the board runs the risk that owners will complain decisions are arbitrary. The other possibility in the absence of a policy is owners will plant whatever they desire in common areas. Then disputes arise among neighbors. What one owner considers beautiful is seen as an eyesore by another. Clearly, every HOA needs a gardening policy for common areas. 

Considerations for Your Policy

An HOA may choose to ban owners from planting in common areas. While that is a legitimate option, each HOA has to decide if an outright prohibition is consistent with the environment it's trying to cultivate in its community. A ban may send an unintended message that this is just a place to live rather than a community. 

To give your owners adequate guidance, the gardening policy needs to be explicit on what can or cannot be planted in common areas. The HOA may decide on a few general guidelines such as:

  • Forbidding the planting of trees, shrubs, or edible plants
  • Only allowing plants that grow to a certain height
  • Restricting plantings to annuals
  • The community will remove plants that aren't being cared for
  • The community removes all plants at the end of the growing season 

However, the HOA may want extremely specific regulations to maintain the look of the community. For instance, a gardening policy may list permitted annuals and perennials. Some policies indicate what color plants are allowed.

All policies should include a section on enforcement. A common way to enforce violations is to fine the homeowner for what it costs the HOA to repair the damage his or her policy violation has caused. Being specific can avoid future misunderstandings and complaints of arbitrary enforcement. For example, if a homeowner will be fined for the replacement of the entire weed barrier for breaking it by planting in a prohibited area, the policy should say so.

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Topics: HOA | Condo Amenity and Common Areas

Maximizing Pool Use in Active Adult Communities: Ideas for Fun, Exercise, and Engagement

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on May 22, 2019 7:56:00 AM

Active adult communities are developing creative ways to keep residents happy and healthy by maximizing the use of onsite pools. The buoyancy of the water provides a low-impact way for residents to exercise and to relax. Whether your community has an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, or both, stepping up use of the pool creates fun for everyone.

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Improving Your HOA Experience with Renters: Welcome, Inform, and Include

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Feb 27, 2019 8:04:00 AM

Moving to a new home is often a stressful experience. Learning to meet new people, and in the case of an HOA, learning new rules can easily overwhelm anyone.  When the new neighbor is renting, welcoming them is just as important as if they had purchased the home. Renters can become invested members of an HOA when they are made to feel welcomed, kept informed, and included within their new community. Here are several ways to assure your new renters are happy with their decision:

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Tips for Winter Landscaping HOA Common Areas

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Nov 28, 2018 8:09:00 AM

Winter landscaping is a great way to enhance the natural beauty of the season. From adding shrubs that produce a pop of color to focusing on hardscapes—like benches and garden structures—you can make your HOA common areas beautiful and inviting this winter. Use the following tips to get started:

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Does Your Community Association Fitness Program Need Upgraded?

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Sep 5, 2018 8:09:00 AM

If you are considering just buying a few weight machines and a few stationary bikes or treadmills and saying, "We have a fitness center in our community"... think again!

Residents are now looking for a much more diversified experience that meets their personal fitness needs. This means you will need to cater to everyone from the yogis to the cardio bunnies to the power lifters - and everyone in between.

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