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Up On the Roof: A Board Deals With Unpleasant Surprises

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks

Morningside Heights

PAT Surprises

431 W. 121 St. Photo courtesy of RAND Engineering & Architecture

“The job came into our universe as a Local Law 11 repair program,” says Ivan Mrakovcic, forensics team leader and construction phase director at RAND Engineering & Architecture, which secured the job following a sealed bidding process. “We came in to repair the façade, and then eventually moved on to the roof.”
According to Mrakovcic, there were loose bricks in the facade needing to be stabilized and repaired, while others had to be repointed. “The courtyard facade required some sounding out and repair of underlying masonry,” he continues. “It had been stucco-coated, and the coating was deteriorated, causing leaks into the building. The fire escape basket assemblies needed some refurbishment, and the window perimeter required caulking.” Finally, repairs were in order for some of the architectural limestone detailing in the facade.
Voula Mamais, president of the seven-member board at the time, took the lead in running the project, assisted by Kathy Kagen, the current president. Mamais was the perfect choice for liaison to architects, engineers, and contractors since her day job is in the construction industry. Says Markowitz: “She really had a very clear understanding of all the issues. When we had to go back and talk to the rest of the board about this and the changes, everybody was working from a place of very good communication.”
The job had aesthetic challenges, says Mrakovcic, because “the building has a beautiful sheet metal cornice that project out a good five or six feet on the south and west facades. It required some creative rigging on the part of the contractor to avoid damaging the design. We ended up allowing the contractor to drill some discreet holes through the corners to allow the cable for the scaffolding to pass through.”
On a more practical front, when the roof was replaced, other issues came to light. Years of patchwork repairs had left a mark: at the low point of the roof, there was a good five or six inches of bituminous roofing layers. “That's where the leaks were coming from: patch repair over patch repair over decades,” says Mrakovcic.
“During some renovations of apartments in the interior, it became obvious that some of the joists were not framed properly,” he adds. “In some cases, there was no bridging put in or diagonal bracing put in. That caused some deflection in the joists, and now we’re embarking on some localized repair of the joists from the inside through these apartments where renovations are ongoing.”
None of this had been apparent before because, until the roof had been removed “there was no opportunity to see beyond the finished ceilings of these apartments,” Mrakovcic says. “And we wound up having to do a lot of repairs on the back wall, which was much worse than we had anticipated.”
Such discoveries led to delays, cost increases, and a scaling back. The work, performed by Accura Restoration Contracting, began on May 12, 2014 and finally finished on July 31, 2015. Originally budgeted at around $400,000 it finally came in at $430,000, reports Markowitz.

“The originally proposed scope of work was more extensive,” says Mrakovcic, “and included more coating work along the courtyard and reconstruction of portions of the stone capping at the retaining wall. These work items were deferred as they had no direct bearing on the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) Report. These repairs may be considered for a future date.”

So a board’s work on its building is never done, and there will always be surprises. But Markowitz says this board has something invaluable going for it: “There’s a lot of consensus.”

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