An Important Change for Condos…
CFSIC has been in business for a little more than three months. We have reviewed more than 120 construction proposals for work that is now, or will very shortly be, in process. The evidence now indicates that the average gap between what CFSIC will pay for as allowable concrete costs and the total cost of construction is currently approximately 20% of the value of the construction’s total cost. As a result of our analysis, the evidence is also now clear that the cap applying to condo foundation platforms places an economic hardship on condo owners that is disproportionate to that of homeowners who actually own their foundations.
This evidence has taken some time to gather, but it’s now clear, and we will be changing our guidelines accordingly.
Effective May 15, 2019, CFSIC will permit a cap of $70,000 per eligible condo unit. If, for example, four condo units are sited on one common foundation platform, where the foundation itself is otherwise eligible for claim consideration according to CFSIC’s standards, a cap of 4 X $70,000, or $280,000, will apply. Once the enabling legislation changes (which we expect it will) to permit CFSIC to underwrite foundation platforms containing more than four units, the numbers will grow exponentially. A foundation supporting six eligible units would be capped at $420,000; eight units would be at $560,000.
Here are the rules:
1) This is a change that is designed to level the playing field among all homeowners with impaired foundations; but this change to the cap applies only to condominiums.
2) The rest of CFSIC’s underwriting and claims management guidelines remain unchanged. For example, our linear/square footage replacement cost parameters will not change. What we define as allowable concrete work will not change. Condo units owned by holders of debt, such as banks and mortgage companies, will not be eligible. Similarly, companies that purchase “distressed” properties for the purpose of flipping them will not be eligible. If, using the example of a four-unit condo on one foundation platform, one of the units is bank-owned, the allowable cap will not be 4 X $70,000…it will be 3 X $70,000.
3) The severity class code determination remains the determining factor in prioritizing claims. If works starts on one foundation in a condominium complex where the foundation is a severity class 3…once that foundation is replaced by the contractor, the contractor will be unable to walk across the street and commence work on a second foundation unless the severity code of that foundation is also a class 3. We need everyone to understand that nothing has changed with regard to CFSIC’s position that those active-claim homeowners with the worst foundations must be served first. We ask condo associations to understand that, of necessity, work done on condos will be in phases, as a result, if a condo association contains foundations with differing severity class codes among all foundation platforms.
4) We can, effective April 18, begin to accept condo applications from associations. Please be aware that we cannot begin to actually process these until May 15, 2019.
5) In applying, we will expect associations to adhere to the guidelines for condos in Section 15 of the “For Homeowners” section of this website.
The best way to proceed is not to complete an application on or after April 18. The best way to proceed is to do the following, and in the following order:
A) Before completing an application, condo associations should know in advance the full extent of the severity coding of all their foundations. This can be done either by re-engaging with the engineer originally providing a visual inspection, or by contacting one of the two engineering firms whose contact information is shown is Section 12 of the “For Homeowners” section of this website. If any original engineer’s visual examination report is not already severity coded, condo associations can obtain a severity class code rating for their foundations at CFSIC’s expense…but ONLY if they use one of the two engineering firms shown in Section 12. Severity codes apply per foundation. If, for example, an engineer concludes that a foundation is a severity class code 2 in one part of a foundation platform…that severity code applies to the entire foundation. As a result, there is no need for a severity code to be assigned separately to the foundation space directly under each condo unit.
B) Next, we are strongly encouraging associations to seek a minimum of two construction bids in advance of applying. The reason for this is that is the only way that an association will fully understand what its potential commitment will have to be with respect to assessments of condo owners and/or any needed loans that the association will have to secure, in order for work to commence, is to understand the full extent of expected total construction expense. Not knowing in advance of applying to CFSIC what the association and its members can afford with respect to any gap between allowable concrete costs and total construction cost, is not an effective or efficient way for a condo association to proceed.
CFSIC is incurring new foundation claim liability at a rate of $1 million per week. We encourage condo associations to apply at the appropriate time, but we also encourage condo associations to move quickly to have their foundation platforms severity coded and expected construction costs estimated, in order to understand what they can do practically from the standpoint of cost and construction inconvenience.
To be very clear…CFSIC is succeeding at its mission, and our funds are finite. Our intent is to serve as many as we can, while the flow of funds continues…but speed is of the essence, given the finite nature of CFSIC’s funding.
If you have any questions about the operation of the program, ESIS is your best source of information on your claim, and their phone number and email are shown below.
As you work through the information and application process, here’s how you can get help:
– Call ESIS (the claim adjuster) at: 844-763-1207
– Email ESIS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Email CFSIC at: email@example.com
Michael Maglaras, Principal
Michael Maglaras & Company