Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on October 1, 2014
Oct. 1, 2014 — The Classic, a 145-unit condominium in Stamford, Conn., had suffered through a collection of troublesome construction problems. Leaks that began on terraces on the upper floors started dripping into the apartments, bricks needed to be repointed or replaced and many windows required recaulking. Repairs were needed, but the building has had a troubled history: In 2011, the board sued the developer and that litigation continued for three years, ending in November 2013.
At that point, says Richard Smeriglio, vice president at Plaza Realty & Management, the building's manager, the board obtained a $4.5 million line of credit, which was more than the property needed for the immediate problem — the leaking terraces — but would be applied to an overall rehab of the structure instead.
The money "will be used for roof replacement, [and upgrades to the] high-efficiency heating / cooling systems, and energy-efficient mechanical equipment," Smeriglio says. "Funds for terrace roof replacements, brick replacement / repointing, and window caulking are still available, and we intend to break ground on major landscape improvements and additional exterior building envelope replacement very soon."
But what about the terrace leaks? For this the board formed a five-member capital improvement committee to review options and eventually hired Eric Cowley, principal of Cowley Engineering, who had worked with Smeriglio in the past. He met primarily with committee members Alex Sulpizi, Frank Zeccola and Fred DeBussey.
"We had leak reports and we investigated all the leaks to determine whether it was a terrace issue, a wall flashing issue, or a parapet issue, and then we developed plans from that," Cowley says.
Cowley ultimately found that 22 terraces were badly deteriorated and needed to be replaced, an involved process that sometimes took up to three weeks per terrace. One of the other problems was that the original 2- by 2-foot pavers were set very tightly in the structure — so tightly, in fact, that rainwater could not get to the drain. The terrace scuppers penetrating the terrace parapets, whose job it is to handle the rainwater overflow, where so poorly flashed that the water would simply enter the cavity of the parapets and into the units below. During the freeze-thaw cycle, any trapped water would freeze, expanding in the walls, and melt in the spring, causing cracks to appear.
"So we provided extra space between the pavers so rain water could get to the drains and used liquid flashing for the scuppers through terrace parapets," Cowley says, which meant that the pavers had to be re-cut. The existing drains were rehabilitated and liquid flashed as well.
The project employed Romo Construction, of Elizabeth, N.J., as the contractors, and used a construction manager who, says Cowley, was a "big help" in coordinating access to the apartments and assisting on the work.
The first part of the job, which began in November 2013, ended in July and cost $750,000. Part 2, which covers the first three floors, was scheduled to begin in September at an estimated cost of $600,000 to $700,000.
Photo courtesy Cowley Engineering. Click to enlarge.
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