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Should the HOA pay for an RFP?

Your Home Improvement

Posted: December 5, 2008 10:54 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 
Hello, Robert:
Good morning. I am the new treasurer of the Board of Directors of our HOA.

We were going over some bids for maintenance work around our complex and one contractor wants to charge us $1,800 for an RFP.

We have never paid for this before, do you think it's necessary?
Tina H.

Hi, Tina:
An RFP, request for proposal, is usually written for larger jobs.

At $1,800 it sounds like the contractor is thinking it will take from one to two days to write the proposal. RFPs are good for the contractor and for the HOA.

Let's say you need roofing, iron work, wood replacement, painting and stucco work done at your property. This much work requires a lot of time to prepare the proposal.

It's not only the time it takes for the inspection and measurements, but also the behind the scenes work of contacting the steel company, lumber yard, etc. to get the current prices on materials to put the bid together.

Usually, a board member will meet you on-site for a job walk to discuss what they want to have repaired or replaced. Since this is my business, I may see something that they were unaware of or missed.

They say, "OK, include that in your bid." The problem with this is, I'm the only one including it, so my bid price will be higher than the other contractors'.

Or, if a contractor meets with a different board member, different information is exchanged and the bids will reflect that.

Many times, the HOA does not put each bid side by side and check exactly what one contractor is providing as compared to the others.

They instead elect to go with the lowest price, only to find out later it will cost them more to do what they thought they had already paid for.

This is where the RFP comes into play. It's good for the HOA in that it is a document that lists the exact scope of work to be done which is presented to each contractor.

Everyone is bidding on the same work, so the HOA can compare apples to apples and know exactly what will be done and at what price.

It's good for the contractors because one, they are getting paid for their time, and two, the others are saving time by knowing what needs to be done without having to spend a day or two inspecting and taking measurements of the property.

Usually, the contracting company that writes the RFP will credit part of that fee back to the HOA if awarded the bid.

Hey, Robert:
I've got a problem. We had new carpeting installed in our living room last week and the smell is terrible.

My allergist says there are VOCs in the carpet and that I should have it removed.

I am very sensitive to formaldehyde.

I called the carpet company and they said the carpet does not contain any formaldehyde, and that it has been cut and stretched so they cannot give me my money back. What should I do?
Edna S.

Hi, Edna:
The first thing to do is open the windows and put some fans on the carpeting to let it air out.

It's not uncommon to avoid newly carpeted rooms for one week after installation, especially for someone that is sensitive to VOCs, or volatile organic compounds.

Also, since by some estimates carpets hold more than one hundred times more dust than wood floors, including high lead levels, is recommended to use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA filter twice per week.

In your case, I would consider leaving your shoes at your front door to avoid tracking in any contaminants from asphalt and pesticides that could get caught in the carpet fibers.

According to the CRI, the Carpet and Rug Institute, formaldehyde is no longer used in the carpet manufacturing process and is not emitted from new carpet.

However, carpet emission tests have found Acetone, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Hexane, Toluene and Xylenes - all of which are classified as hazardous chemicals ­- present in samples tested.

Formaldehyde is still used in products like resins and is found in different finishes, particleboard, plywood and paneling.

It could be found in your kitchen cabinets and there is a good chance it is in your sub-floor underneath the carpeting.

So, even if you removed the carpeting, formaldehyde would still probably be inside your home.

According to the Indoor Air Quality Guideline, ways to reduce formaldehyde exposure would be to increase ventilation, keep indoor humidity between 40 percent and 50 percent, and keep indoor temperatures moderate.

A temperature increase of 40 degrees Fahrenheit - an increase from 50 to 90 degrees F can result in a doubling of concentrations.

The only way to know what your formaldehyde levels are for sure would be to purchase a home test kit. They are priced as low as $15.

For new carpet installation, there are precautions you can take beforehand.

Always check that the carpeting, padding and adhesives have the CRI Indoor Air Quality Testing label.

This identifies the products have been tested and meet indoor air quality requirements for very low VOC emissions.

You can also ask the carpet company to ventilate the carpet before installation and have them put in writing that the installer will be following CRI guidelines.

Hello, Robert:
I'm feeling pretty good. I just bought a new tankless water heater and I got a $200 rebate from the gas company.

Do you know of any other appliance rebates that are available?
Dennis A.

Hi, Dennis:
Basically, the more energy you can save, the more incentives are available to you.

The best source to find these incentives is Flex Your Power.

This is California's energy efficiency Web site at www.fypower.org or call (866) 431-FLEX.

The Web site lists all rebates available and is categorized by residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and agricultural building owners.

There are 90 incentive programs for single-family homes alone.

These include rebates on appliances, roofs and windows, heating and cooling, lighting, swimming pools, renewable energy sources such as fuel cells, photo-voltaics and wind turbines, and new construction.

One of the programs they offer is a free residential energy analysis of the energy use and costs of each major appliance in your home with specific steps to reduce your energy costs.

There are rebates available to homeowners for upwards of thousands of dollars.

It is a win/win.

You are not only saving energy, but are getting paid to purchase items that will save you even more money to operate.

One rebate for business owners is for $300,000 to reduce energy expenditure by 250,000 therms per year - one therm is 100,000 BTUs.

Besides residential programs, there are 123 incentives for businesses which include restaurants, manufacturing and processing facilities.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years' experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His views are his own and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to Robert@IMSConstruction.com.

 

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