K.D. from Litchfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Some type of foundation crack and hole caused extensive damage to our condo that lies beneath the foundation. Last year, 2 days after we moved in, the water came pouring in every time it rained. Building Inspector, builder and Property Manager all confirmed water coming from above. It was fixed supposedly last year in June. We spent $4,000 to repair the inside of our unit. The leak is back and now the manager has a bad attitude towards us! Filed a complaint with DCP. Have not heard back yet. A contractor did come to see leak but manager wants to get more opinions. He did same thing to delay work last year. Do we have any other recourse? We can’t afford all this expense as we are also dealing with illness in the family.
Mister Condo replies:
K.D., I am sorry that you are dealing with a family illness and all of these building issues at the same time. I am sure that is quite trying and difficult. I wish you well in dealing with the illness and would like to offer a few suggestions as how best to deal with your leaks and subsequent water damage.
You did not mention whether or not you have sought legal representation. My advice is for you to speak with an attorney in short order. It is unfortunate that you are going through these water damage issues but from what you have told me, it looks like there may be some construction defect issues here and they almost always end up in litigation. The likely chain of events is that you will sue the association and the association will then bring suit against the builder. These things can take years to settle so this is not a quick fix by any means. However, the sooner you get the wheels turning, the sooner you are to having a permanent solution.
May I assume you have purchased homeowners insurance? Here in Connecticut, the type of policy is HO-6 and if you don’t have it, you need to get it. A new policy won’t help for the damage already done but it will cover you for future damage, which is likely to occur until this problem is remedied. Also, be sure to have temporary dwelling coverage added to the policy. This coverage will allow for you to be domiciled someplace dry and safe while this problem gets fixed. I am concerned for your safety and that includes the very likely possibility of mold as a result of this ongoing water intrusion. This type of coverage may be a lifesaver if you need to vacate your unit for repairs or mold remediation.
Finally, it would be a good idea for you to keep in close contact with your Board via regular letters and photos showing the damage. The Property Manager works for the Board and is accountable to them for how they handle interactions with unit owners such as you. If you are dissatisfied, you should alert your Board who can take appropriate action, up to an including terminating the Property Manager. Your report to DCP may or may not be followed up on, as DCP is busy with so many things in our state, not just condos. Your Board, on the other hand, is completely vested in your association and its management. They are in a far better position to help you.
Keep in mind that dealing with your issue is just one of a myriad of things that the Property Manager deals with on behalf of your association. Having a bad attitude towards you is not a violation of any ethical code I am aware of and could just mean this person was having a bad day or reflecting back how they were being treated. You need as many friends as possible during this process so may I suggest you offer an olive branch back to this Property Manager so you can both work together to solve your problem?
Other than that, there isn’t too much you can do right now, K.D.. It sounds like the builder is working towards a resolution and it sounds like contractors are being considered. Getting second and even third opinions may not be a bad idea, as the original solution applied didn’t work. Protect yourself, get a legal opinion to guide you, and hope for the best. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way to help! Good luck!