Homeowner thinks planned clubhouse too expensive

Q: Our homeowners association presently has about 3,500 homes, and is eventually expected to have at least 8,500 dwellings. The HOA has been collecting $300 from each homeowner, and now has just over $2 million. The HOA also has land that it wishes to build a proposed clubhouse on. The cost of the structure is expected to be at least $10 million. The management company has been pushing this idea for the past two years with no alternatives.

Now, the management company is having sales presentations to further the idea. The cost per square foot of this proposed building appears to be at least three to four times the cost of a residential home in the HOA. Previously, the square footage was considered adequate at 20,000. Now the square footage is at 13,000 and this is presumed to be adequate and the price of construction has remained about the same.

There has been no established need for this building although it will contain an exercise room, and unneeded office rooms, as well as other club rooms. The building maintenance cost would not be covered until we reach 6,600 homes. This could take as many as five years to attain. Certainly, there will not be enough room in this building for yearly, or even quarterly, meetings for the 8,500 residents (assuming only 5 percent attend).

The management company refuses to say how much it will cost individual homeowners, or even if a special assessment is necessary. They also intend to send a survey to the residents (after a previous survey was bias in favor of the clubhouse ) and are not likely to allow for resident changes in their survey.

Therefore, I have several questions:

Have you ever heard of a non-age-restricted community building a clubhouse after 3,500 homes have been sold? If yes, could you give some details?

Given the facts of this case, is the board using prudent judgment and acting in the best interests of the residents? If yes, could you give some details?

Obviously, I am attempting to put an end to any further spending on this project (an architect has already been hired and rough plans have been submitted to the residents). What would be my best course of action to prevent the clubhouse from happening?

A: Based upon the information you provided, it would appear to me that this association is still being controlled by the declarant (i.e. developer). Generally speaking the management company would not be involved in any manner as to the construction of the proposed clubhouse, including the “sales presentation,” unless specifically directed by the declarant board of directors. I am uncertain why the declarant would need to involve the homeowners, as it would normally not need homeowner approval. You should review the public offering statement the homebuilder must provide to the purchasers of the homes to see if there are any references to this proposed clubhouse. You also should speak to one of the sales representatives who represent the builder.

Q: I find your Q&A section in the R-J quite informative.

I am in a large HOA with no sub-association HOA. It does not enforce the covenants, conditions and restrictions as they once did when we bought 19 years ago. In order to get anything accomplished, we instead have to snitch on our neighbors, instead of the HOA doing its due diligence of monthly drive-bys in each neighborhood, looking at the properties for non-compliance issues. This stopped in the early 2000s when gasoline prices increased; high gas prices is no longer the case. We pay monthly fees and they need to do their part. There are many homes in disrepair and in need of TLC, without neighbor intervention!

What is your suggestion to resolve this?

A: You should address this issue with the manager and then if necessary with the board of directors. At the next board meeting under the second homeowner forum, you need to speak to this matter of non-enforcement. If you cannot obtain a satisfactory response, you could discuss this matter with the ombudsman for other options.

Homeowners do have the right to change directors through the election process or through the recall process when they believe that association issues are not being addressed.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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