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Old 01-03-2010, 08:01 PM
 
119 posts, read 268,744 times
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I live in a condominium building, and last month we were informed that several of the units reported water damage inside their units. Supposedly the damage occurred around the time of the heavy rains in late September. The management company for the HOA hired an engineer to inspect the damage, and he determined it was due to water penetrating the concrete balconies belonging to the units above. Apparently there is no flashing (or minimal or misplaced flashing) behind where the balconies connect to the building. There is also no drainage system, so when it rains, the water drains towards the outside wall behind each balcony and causes damage inside the unit below. The engineer suggested that every balcony (not just the ones currently causing the problems) needs to be taken apart, inspected, and probably replaced. At an owner's meeting two weeks ago, a representative from the HOA management company scared most of us by saying that the balconies could eventually separate from the building.

Has anyone eno****ered anything like this? And can you pass along any insights or wisdom that might help me.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Riverside, CA
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How old is the building? I would imagine a conversation with a real estate attorney could give you options. If the building was not built to code or possibly a lawsuit against the builder?
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:43 PM
 
119 posts, read 268,744 times
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There are several buildings in our community, which was built over a period of time from about 1998 to 2006. The buildings with units reporting damage were built in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004.

According to the HOA property management company, who consulted with the HOA's attorney, the builder built the buildings to code, otherwise they would not have received a certificate of occupancy. However, no one has actually provided the owners any documentation to substantiate this claim.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:01 AM
 
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Building sounds too new to have these problems if it was built correctly. I owned a condo that had issues and had to replace all the concrete balconies and pay an expensive special assessment but it was a building built 30 years ago. Your board should bring in an outside expert to confirm if it was built correctly and to advise of the best course of action.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Riverside, CA
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There are so many benefits (in my mind) to condo living, but you have the nightmare of every condo owner, the dreaded special assessment. I would be interested to hear what happens in your case. I am living in a large condo building and have the same concrete balcony. I couldn't even imagine the cost of having to replace all of them. Good luck! I'm sure you must have some sort of recourse.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eunomia View Post
According to the HOA property management company, who consulted with the HOA's attorney, the builder built the buildings to code, otherwise they would not have received a certificate of occupancy. However, no one has actually provided the owners any documentation to substantiate this claim.
For single family residential construction, the above statement is definitely not true and I would be extremely hard pressed to believe it is true for condos.

There are tens of thousands of codes that govern what can and cannot be done. Unless the building is under special scrutiny, it is not possible or reasonable for an inspector to look at every single item. Some municipalities even require you to submit extremely detailed plans (including where flashing is installed, etc) and the inspector makes sure you built to the plans...no more and no less. Again, with the speed of construction, I doubt that the inspector looked at every item on every page of the plans.

In fact, many places have a disclaimer saying that a certificate of occupancy does not mean that everything is to code and they have the right to come back and threaten to revoke the certificate if something else comes to their attention.

I am not saying they were not built to code. I am just saying that passing inspection does not mean that it is 100% code compliant. It may be worth finding the plans submitted with the city to see if they show any flashing or not.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:13 PM
 
119 posts, read 268,744 times
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Thanks for the responses. There are several good options to pursue.

From what I've heard from other people online and in person, it seems that the balconies were poorly constructed regardless of if they were built to code. Though I'm not sure what recourse the community has as far as the liability of the builder or a county inspector that approved the construction.

I can understand needing to replace 30-year-old balconies, but it's pretty depressing to think we have to replace five to ten-year-old ones.

I'll let you all know what happens.
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:43 PM
 
119 posts, read 268,744 times
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Noah,

If you don't mind, I'd like to know what happened to cause your community to replace the balconies.
Did people report water damage problems? What was the professional opinion of the engineer, or whoever inspected the balconies, as to what the cause of the damage was, what was damaged, and how it could be repaired?
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:47 PM
 
119 posts, read 268,744 times
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AtlDad,

I'm curious about your comment that a government will issue a certificate of occupancy with a disclaimer saying they have the right to come back and threaten to revoke the certificate if something else comes to their attention.

Is there a time frame that you are aware of as to when a certificate can be revoked?
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:44 PM
 
9,124 posts, read 33,304,284 times
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They're not going to revoke the CO because of leaks caused by incorrect/missing flashing. The city doesn't inspect every single item on the building, and they mainly focus on life safety and structural issues- it's up to the builder to do the rest.

That said, it sounds like you've got a pretty major issue that needs to be addressed quickly. Do you know if the builder/developer is still in business? If not, you're going to be paying for the repairs via special assessment, and if they are still operating, you're still going to have to drag them to court to get them to do anything, which is a costly and time-consuming effort in and of itself.
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