HABITAT

BUILDING OPERATIONS

In an Emergency, Your First Call Isn’t Always the Best Call

Dawn Dickstein in Building Operations on August 7, 2017

New York City

Emergency Reaction

Aug. 7, 2017 — Boards and managers should weigh alternative solutions when disaster hits.

INSIDE TRACK: The following article appears in Habitat’s July/August issue, “Insider Tips from 47 Top Management Leaders.”

We had an oil delivery at a property we manage, and the oil company noticed a spot on the sidewalk. They said, “It looks like you have a leak. You need to address it right away because we cannot deliver oil as long as there’s evidence of a leak.” I called the boiler company and they came out.

After filing for permits, we dug up the sidewalk and fixed the fill line where the leak was. Then they noticed that there was dark soil around the fill line. They suggested that we bring in a remediation company. They came in and just started digging and digging. After a while we had to expand the area in which they were digging.

We had to get another permit to keep digging. After we had a hole that was about six feet deep and six feet wide, there was no evidence that we were reaching the end of the spill. We had incurred a hefty expense up until that point. I reached out and contacted an environmental company, and they suggested we take a different approach. Instead of continuing to dig, we did borings of what we suspected to be the perimeter of the dark soil.

We were able to identify the outline of where the margins of the spill would be. Then we were able to be more isolated in our digging and, in a more economical way, remediate the rest of the evidence of the oil spill. In the end, we did save some money, and we’re still waiting for possible insurance coverage. The insurance initially denied the claim, but we have an independent adjuster delving into that to see if the building can get coverage for the damage.

The lesson to be learned from this is that sometimes in an emergency your first call isn’t always your best call. You need to back up and think through what is the best, most efficient and economical way to work through a problem. Even though it’s an emergency, take a little time and think through the process.

Dawn Dickstein is president and founder of MD Squared Property Group.

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