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Teachable Moments: Roof and Terrace Issues, from Leaks to Barbecues

New York City

Oct. 15, 2013


Jeffrey Heidings
President, Siren Management

I manage a condominium built in 2003, in which the upper-floor apartment has the entire terrace and roof rights. This apartment began showing signs of water penetration on a very limited basis in 2005 when we took over management. My research and experience told me that the "sore point' in new construction is generally cheap waterproofing / roofing work, so I called in an engineer to inspect the various roofs. The engineer discovered — and this was augmented by an older waterproofing inspection conducted by the developer, which I located in the building's archives — that the roofing systems were poorly installed with cheap materials that typically deteriorate rapidly. I advised the board that the best approach was to replace all the roofing systems with new ones before the penthouse apartment sprang continuously large leaks and affected other units as well. The board agreed with my advice, and last year we completed a highly successful $200,000 roof replacement project and obtained a 20-year, no-dollar-limit warranty.


Peter von Simson
Director of Management, New Bedford Management

While working on a large Local Law 11 project in a condominium building in Brooklyn, the contractor was forced to stage the work on the terrace of the penthouse (it was the only staging area available). The owner was upset about this, but seemed to accept that there were limited options. Halfway through the project, while conducting an inspection from the scaffolding, the engineer for the project found additional conditions that needed to be addressed, which would extend the project an additional three months. The penthouse owner was very upset and threatened legal action. The board, confident in the right of the condo to use the terrace, prepared for what seemed to be a certain legal battle. The building's attorney gave the board very sound advice: If this issue goes to court, it will take months of legal work, cost thousands of dollars, delay the project, and result in a possibly unfavorable opinion. The lesson? The board should look at alternatives to resolve the issue in a way both parties can live with, even if the building incurs additional cost.


Michael J. Wolfe
President, Midboro Management

Boards have wish-lists for amenities that may sound great but, in the final analysis, may not be feasible. In one case, a board wanted to install a sizable roof deck adorned with planters, roof furniture, and a gas grill — unbeknownst to the manager. A board subcommittee had been formed to research vendors, plants, and furniture. However, the board members didn't realize that there needed to be an analysis of the roof load to ensure structural integrity; that the roof warranty needed to be reviewed by management and the manufacturer's technical division to confirm that the deck installation would not void the warranty; that, depending on materials used, there might be annual maintenance issues that would affect staff schedules; or that watering and winterization plans had to be considered. The lesson here is that it is imperative for any construction or other project to be overseen by management and the professionals equipped to perform the analysis to see if the project is feasible.



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