Community Association of the Year

Medium Community Association of the Year: The Heights at Penderbrook Condominium Association

The Heights at Penderbrook Condominium Association was named Community Association of the Year in the Small Category.  They are managed by Cardinal Management Group, Inc., AAMC.  This is the essay submitted with the community’s application. 


There is occasion that an exceptional community is defined by more than beautiful landscaping, steady day to day operations and glitzy amenities; and while the Heights at Penderbrook (HAP) offers these and much more, I submit that we are worthy of consideration for Community Association of the Year because of how we are successfully managing a most unexpected and unfortunate hardship.


The trouble began in 2013 with a single atypical foundation leak.  One leak became two, then five and it didn’t take long to ascertain that we had a potentially massive and complicated dilemma on our hands. That being said, the board and our management team did not panic but rather mobilized to remedy the issue quickly and efficiently. We hired a structural engineer to perform an assessment and though definitive proof is unlikely, his professional opinion stated that the 2011 Virginia earthquake damaged the condominium foundation waterproofing base. This ominous diagnosis was just the beginning. Little did we know just how destructive the earthquake would prove to be to our association.


Initial prioritization of time and resources was critical. First, we researched the possibility of filing an insurance claim to no avail as this “act of God” was not covered. We relied heavily upon management to schedule, follow up and coordinate details. We consulted with legal counsel. And we informed the membership by every means possible with hard copy mailings, bulletin board flyers, email blasts, website updates and specific topic discussions during monthly board meetings. We hired experts to develop a comprehensive RFP to identify the ideally suited contractor for our unique circumstance.

And finally, after interviews, inspections and product testing, a contracting team was selected. Though still unaware of the full scope and magnitude of the damages incurred, we were moving in the right direction.

Armed with knowledge and a partner in place, the next step was to make a financial strategy and this is where we excelled. While most associations would have to resort to special assessment or take out loan to cover immediate unexpected costs, we dug in our heels and vowed to avoid doing so at


all costs. We developed a comprehensive long-term year plan that spread the costs of any necessary repairs over time to avoid hammering only current owners. We consulted and coordinated with our budget committee, legal counsel, management and contractors to put our best foot forward.  We pinched pennies, utilized excess operating funds, sacrificed landscaping projects and deferred scheduled maintenance projects. We capitalized on excess snow-removal funds that were available due to mild winters. And we implemented a small assessment increase that was in line with previous assessment increases through the years. In doing all this, we have been able to maintain our reserve funds at the requisite levels and keep our FHA eligibility. Smart, timely and comprehensive decisions have enabled the Heights at Penderbrook to retain property values and continue business as usual even when faced with a true disaster.


Unfortunately, we are still experiencing the residual effects from the 2011 earthquake. To date, 26 of our 75 condominium buildings have received extensive interior and exterior repairs for waterproofing damage caused by the Virginia earthquake at an approximate cost of 1.5 million un-budgeted dollars. Yet, in spite of the obstacle created by this minor cataclysm, the Heights at Penderbrook not only endures but continues to thrive and operate at the highest level. Finances are in order, members are informed and a solution is in place to successfully move the association well into the future. Sometimes a truly outstanding association is revealed by its management of adversity.