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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Engineer on the Case

Bob Boettcher, board vice president

WaterWays at Bay Pointe

Long Island


Bob Boettcher talks like an old real estate pro, so it’s surprising when you learn that he’s only been on the board of Waterways at Bay Pointe for a year and a half. But he has already had a significant impact on his co-op, a 344-family, multi-building cooperative in the Long Island community of Moriches, supervising four projects: roof replacement, new fencing, new siding, and handrails.

Boettcher may be a relative newcomer to the board, but he’s no novice to the property. He and his wife have lived there for 14 years, and he only joined the board because “no one else ran. It’s time-consuming, especially during these projects. It was almost a full-time job handling the daily problems that occurred and then dealing with the residents and formulating the plan, payments, and also arranging the loan. I think people would like to serve but they don’t want to commit that kind of time to it. Between meetings and checking work with contractors, it was probably a 40-hour week.”

He knows about working long hours. A licensed professional engineer with a background in civil and structural engineering, Boettcher worked for the New York State Department of Transportation for some 35 years as a design engineer and resident engineer. At the same time, he spent the last 25 years or so as the owner of a home inspection consulting business where he would do pre-purchase home inspections and would review and seal plans for contractors.

“I would do the engineering part of the plan for homes and buildings and seal them, and did that concurrently with my work with New York State. I retired at age 55 from [the] New York State [job] because the home inspection business got so busy I couldn’t do both anymore, and I pursued that. I did the home inspection business on a full-time basis, and my back started bothering me about four or five years ago. I am now 71, will be 72 this year, and couldn’t climb the roofs, and crawl around crawl spaces anymore, and I stopped the home inspection business. I am now retired. I still occasionally review some plans, but not a lot anymore.”

He was key to the recent projects at Waterways because of all his experience. “I am fairly construction savvy,” he explains. “It certainly helped in planning the siding replacement.”

Built 28 years ago, the property consists of 26 “quads” (four apartments per building) and 59 ranch-style structures for a total of 85 buildings. The residents range from retirees and young professionals to attorneys, engineers, architects, and school superintendents. About a year and a half ago, the nine-member board determined that the cedar siding was, in Boettcher’s words, “in really horrible shape. It was rotting, the previous paint jobs were peeling, and they were trapping moisture.” The property also had more than 6,000 feet of fencing that needed to be replaced with vinyl fencing, as well as part of the siding job. In addition, there were 58 locations with second-floor decks that had railings on them that were to be replaced with vinyl.

To pay for it, the co-op obtained a $5 million line of credit, and will also count on two assessments (the first of the $1,250 per home assessment was imposed this past January; the second one goes into effect next January). “For the most part, [the cost] was received very well because the people recognized that the age and condition of what we had needed to be addressed,” says Boettcher, “and there had not been any reserves put aside for 28 years.”

Boettcher – who spends about eight months of the year pursuing the more relaxing activity of golf – says his two-year term expires this year, and adds that he is considering re-upping. “I really don’t know,” he says. “Because of my highway experience and the road construction experience, we are planning on repaving the roads next year. We are in the process of hiring a company called H2M to begin the design process, and we have the loan set aside, and the assessment money set aside to do a portion of repaving the road. So I am inclined to stay on the board just to see that part of it through.”

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