Paradise Found

Paradise Found
Hacia el mar

Monday, January 31, 2011

Money Matters - to some at least

At our residents meeting on Saturday 29th January we approved an increase in our monthly contribution of 10%. All but four residentes backed the increase. I voted for the increase even though I spend less than two months of the year. I am happy to show solidarity with those who live full time on the complex. To the credit of all the part timers like myself we all voted in favour of the increase which I think reflects well on the expat community. I am proud of our track record in supporting the community.

The increase was defended by the management on the basis that it does not really represent an increase on the costs we are presently meeting - and I took the management at their word on this. Two criticisms - which I think were fair - were made of the figures presented - firstly that they were provided very late - just the day before the meeting - and secondly that it was not easy to extrapolate the budget from the historic figures. For example, the figure of 20,000 is shown as income (in Spanish - 'derrama')- being the figure requested as a special amount to fund the pool, the gate etc - it turns out that Solterra has not paid its share being 9,000 and it appears that most of the 11,000 was spent during the period covered. It was not easy to compare figures. We tried to comparfe apples with pears and got grapefruits...It was suggested and agreed that in future we should get figures well ahead of the residents meetings.

Most pepole feel instinctively that we are getting good value for money when we compare what other communities are paying. Additonally we have an excepttional complex both in terms of beauty, extent and the level of services we request and have delivered.

Unfortuantely up to an hour was spent by a small number of people enquiring about the payment to the staff and no time was given to looking at the other figures we recevied - the first casualty of this kind of meeting is that some areas get a huge amount of time and others none.

The pools are a problem and a puzzle. We are going to get some figures over the next few weeks from the committee and Anabel is doing great work in this field. The top pool is leaking into the community room. The pool will have to be drained and the problem fixed. I think I heard the figure of 8,000 but I am not sure.

The lower pool is a bigger problem in every sense. It apears that we are wasting 2,000 to 3,000 a year on water needelssly because apparently we have another leak. I am anxious that we do our sums before we empty the large pool. I calculate that the pool may hold up to 8,000 m3 of water - at if water costs say 20cent per M3 that would cost 2,000. I am sure my figures may be wrong but it gives you the scope of the problem. I would not exmpty it lightly!! Aanabel is getting quotesforfr the work excluding the water and the current quote is 18,000, if I understand correctly.

The complex will have to be repainted over the next year and so the committee is getting quotes in this regards also.

All in all we might be looking at 40,000 or more whihc divided among 200 is not bad, but if Solterra does not pay it's share, the sum is then is divided among 100 approx. Does anyone have the exact figures??!!

Solterra is the elephant in the room. Or not quite in the room - they were not present for the meeting. Residents have heard that 'Solterra' - as in the special purpose company set up to build out complex (not the parent) may be forced into administration in the next few weeks. I am not an expert on Spanish Law but I believe we would have no recourse to other companies in the group. I asked at the meeting that we should get independent legal advice as to what are the possible consequences of such an action - to cover issues such as the payment of community fees, the payment of the derrama, recourse for builders faults etc. Separately Victor asked for a copy of the insurance that we hold as a community. It is not clear to say the very least why some residents have been able to claim under this insurance for construction faults and others have not.

At the start of the meeting I had suggested that we should build up a reserve precisely for needs such as the above. The comment was well received, but nothing was done about it. I leave it to posterity!!

I am a great believer in reinvesting in our property. A freind suggested that because he had spent a huge amount of money in buying the property that he did not want to have to spend any more. My logic is the exact opposite - apart from the love of the complex for all its health and spiritual values, precisely necause I have invested money I want to see my invesment protected and grown. The only way to accumulate is to invest - according to Mr Buffet anyway.

Finally the only ambition of this blog is to improve the quality of life on the complex for every family, regardless of langauge or provenance. It is not intended to be magnet for complaints, but rather for positive suggestions to see how we can all make a difference.

Paz y luz!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Water Damages

When I first came to Tenerife 16 years ago, it did not rain in the South of the Island. Full stop. I am sure it rained the odd day. My memories of the old Tenerife are clear. A barren, dry south and a cooler lush north.

We stayed twice in a lovely family-run hotel in Los Cristianos called Paradise Park. The reception did not have a roof. It did rain one day and the astonished and dismayed staff ran around looking for towels.

I may exaggerate, but not a lot. One way or another it looks as if rain is here to stay. The architects of Adeje Paradise may not have had rain in mind when they designed the exoctic roofs of our lovely complex.

David Hernandez has asked for people who have had rain problems to give him their names - at last count some 43 units reported problems - there may be even more.

The intention is to get a common platform to approach Solterra about our problems. From this morning's meeting I can see a number of problems arising

1. There may be costs invoilved for either individuals or the community that people had not considered - legal fees, architects fees etc. David mentioned a figure this morning's meeting of perhaps 250 euro each - yes each! ( I think,) (I may have the figure wrong) per person.

2. There are rumours to the effect that 'Solterra' may be shortly forced into Administration so we run the risk of throwing good money after bad.

3. People may share my appraoch that Solterra may not be the best people to solve the problems and many - like me - have just solved the problems ourselves without recourse to Solterra or to insurance - rightly or wrongly.

4. Some of our residents may come up with far better solutions than the builder. A lot of problems may be solved by partly sealing the air vents that seem to be causing a lot of the water problems. A simple solution has been found by attaching a see-through plastic covering to air vents that is cheap and effective.

5. I believe we cannot 'socialise' the problems. In a word everyone has to find their own solution to their own unit. We can work together - but we bought the apartments not as a community but as individuals and we have to solve the problems ourselves - other than clearly common problems such as roads, gardens or pools. Our own apparment is our own problem, shared with one other owner at most.

6. Otherwise we create an impossible situation. Some people will solve their problems simply and cheaply , others will wish to spend thousands, which is their own decison, but as a community we cannot stand behind personal decisons. Like the Irish Government we could end up trying to underwrite the impossible.

7. Others may have different views. But I cannot imagine a situation in Ireland where a group of people who bought houses individually in the same estate would agree to underwrite each others claims against a potentially inslovent builder.

It's just a view.

But it's an important view.

Because it's mine

Paz y luz


Residents Meeting

We had our residents meeting today. It started at 10.00 for 10.30 and finished whenever you left. Most people had left by 1.30 so you could say it ended then.
I have to celebrate the hard work done by the committee members between meetings and the hours they give to helping our little community.
Our managment team is infinitely patient - David Hernandez and Naomi Real -and I am sure they have better things to do on their Saturdays.
This blog has been conceived in the belief there has to be a better way to run a residents meeting and a community complex.
It is also intended as a Forum to discuss things of interest.
Everyone is free to comment. All comments are automatically posted and will be removed only if considered offensive. I am the sole judge and jury of what is offensive. Anyone discouraged by this approach can start their own Blog - but the name 'Padradise' is booked.
First up is best dressed.
I would welcome a parallel Forum in Spanish - but that is for a native speaker to organise.

As a community that meets democratically we run the risk, as presently run, of hearing only from those who have a particular personal interest or agenda, of those who talk the longest or the loudest and we run the risk of losing the silent majority.
So this blog is for you - the silent majority.

First things first. This is a terrific community. I love the property, the location, the people. I hope to spend more of my life here, especially in Winter.

I am proud of the complex - of its architecture, its magnificent swimming pools, of its location so close to a wonderful sea, of its peace and tranquility, of the staff who work so hard, of its gardens and its mozarabe character, its shimmering and suggestive shapes and shadows.

I want the best for the community and for its families, particularly those who live here. There is no reason why this cannot be the best complex and community in the whole of Tenerife if not in all of Spain.

There is only one rule - if it's to be, it's up to me. By that I mean as a community we can surely forget the developer at this stage who has his own problems. If we are to solve issues, we must look to ourselves in the first instance because I believe the developer may be either unwilling or unable to help into the future. We are on our own. And that is not a bad thing. So let's just get on with it.

We have talented people from all walks of life, engineers, adminsitrators, lawyers, buiness men, computer specialists. If we tap our human resources we can solve any problems.

I welcome any suggestions or comments - this blog is as much yours as mine - except I get to police it....
Paz y luz