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Subject: Irrigation Issues
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05/28/2021 7:19 PM  
I am a resident board member of a condominium complex that is nearing completion and the irrigation system is not fully functioning yet. The developer and landscaper are telling us they are working on it and assure us it will be functional before they leave the complex. The initial landscape/irrigation installation company was replaced after a year with most of the complex unfinished. The second company which continued the irrigation construction, seems to have continual issues fixing broken pipes from the prior company's and their own installations. Most units seem to have had sprinklers function sometimes but then they need repair. To add to these concerns, 2 wells were originally drilled, one at the lowest point of the neighborhood and the second at the highest point. The well at the top of the high point malfunctioned (too much rust in the water staining everything), and a new well was subsequently drilled. It too is at the lowest point of the community near the original well. There is one pump to serve the 2 wells and a lot of water will need to be pumped up a hill to reach the highest area. With the wells, the pump, the broken pipes, the malfunctions, the 2 contractors' involvement in the project, my concern is that we need someone other than the developer and the installer to certify that the irrigation system is adequate and will function. We need to know that it was properly installed, has adequate well and pumping capability and can handle the needs of the community BEFORE the developer walks away. Does anyone know how to find an independent professional who could assess the system? The other board members are also concerned and I believe we think hiring someone to inspect would be money well spent. I am in Massachusetts. Any suggestions how to start the search or what type of licensed professional we need? Or do we trust the developer's word and look for strong warranty?


05/28/2021 8:25 PM  
Your still developer controlled. It is still their responsibility to address these issues. You and your neighbors have to give them time to do so. You can't force them to do something until you and your neighbors own the HOA. I am sure there is a reporting authority in your state if you really wanted to take things that far. Just watch out for retaliation or even extra expenses for doing so.

I happen to have a bit of understanding of what your going through. I am a HUGE fan of This Old House. This issue is something they addressed a few years ago on their show when installing a well. Your area it is not unusual to have a "rust" issue with wells. Plus your area has a lot of rock to deal with. Which sometimes require explosives to be used to get to the proper water table. The well company has to find the "sweet spot" which will provide the right amount of water flow and pressure. Sometimes more than one well has to be done especially if your dealing with rust or rock.

Your irrigation systems are probably dealing with the heaving of the ground due to frost line. I suspect thawing and freezing issues is what is causing the pipes to be broken. Again also may be effected by rock.

Give your developer the chance to address these issues. It's their money and I am sure they aren't happy either with the well situation.

Former HOA President


05/29/2021 5:29 AM  
Based on my experience, our developer was still building and finishing up things for several years after we'd passed the 75% trigger for turnover to homeowner control. We had it writing that everything would be working and pass inspections before they left. Among the final projects was a detention pond that continued to have issues for a few years after the developer was gone.

One issue we ran into is that developers tend to install "builder grade" stuff. The better irrigation systems will have a rain gauge that controls when and how much the system runs. If you live in a climate like mine, where summers can range from several inches of rain per week to no rain at all for weeks on end, having a manually controlled system gets expensive (between service calls and plants that either drown or die of thirst between service calls).

So... get warranties in writing from the developer. You CAN bring back the developer if things malfunction. On the other hand, it may be worth it in the long run to just bring in the experts from the get go and let them deal with it. It look us several years to identify and properly fix an issue with our irrigation system, which a knowledgeable landscape contractor identified and an irrigation specialist fixed. We spent a lot of money on wasted water and replacing dead plants during those years.

Editorial comment: One thing I've noticed about HOA finances in general is that running a tight budget, which most HOAs and COAs do, encourages short-term thinking. Boards will go for bandaids and "good enough" solutions rather than spending the money upfront and really fixing things. This tendency is even worse in many condo associations, where you have many clueless first time buyers and people who plan to leave after a few years - they don't want to spend money now to save money down the road when they won't even be there. You'll be fighting this very common attitude along with the real issues that you're dealing with.



05/29/2021 5:47 AM  
in the end, absolutely under no circumstances sign off to release the bond to th developer until all issues are resolved, even the slightest ones. Once the board is satisfied with everything then sign off and release the developers bond.


05/30/2021 4:15 PM  
Please have the devloper give you a map of the location of all of the sprinkler heads, and each control box.
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