Category Archives: Windows

Board Sides with Condo Glass Door Installer Who Did a Poor Job!

S.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My complex is in the process of installing new windows and sliding glass doors. Mine were installed last Friday. Since then, I have a humming in my bedroom that is loud enough to keep me awake at night. I’ve contacted the installers; they insist nothing is wrong. I’ve contacted the complex and they are siding with the installers. I’ve spoken to an independent contractor who says this noise is caused by either the window not seated correctly or the panes not fitted properly. It is the installers responsibility to correct the problem. The complex and installers won’t budge. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

S.L., I am glad you got new sliders but I am sorry for your problem. Ideally, the Board would do the right thing and take your side in the matter and get the contractor to correct the faulty installation. If it were me, I would threaten the Board with a lawsuit to get their attention. If that doesn’t motivate them to pressure the contractor to correct the problem, I don’t know what else will. If the threat of suit doesn’t do the job, go ahead and hire an attorney and file suit. Be sure to sue for your expenses of needing to sue them as well. The Board is comprised of your elected representatives. They have no reason to not believe you when you tell them the installation was defective. Get the opinion of the independent contractor in writing and present that to the Board as well. Board members are human; they make mistakes. It is now your job to correct their mistake. All the best!

Condo Window Replacement Conundrum

J.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a small, self-managed condo building of which I am the sole Trustee. We have a back stairwell that every unit has common access to, but spacious landings with street viewing windows and storage/closets that are exclusive use. When I bought my place, it was the height of summer and I did not realize how dreadful my landing window situation was. They are old storm windows that during the winter I needs to nail shut so they don’t fall open, when closed have horrendous gaps I’ve been filling with foam at the start of each winter, and have no screens. All the floors below me (I’m on the top) have new, modern windows. I saved up enough money so that I could replace the windows before the winter this year. I’m being told by a friend who works in property management (she doesn’t represent me or my HOA) that windows are common, so the HOA would have to pay for new windows and that I couldn’t just replace mine, we’d have to replace them all so that they “looked the same.” I don’t think I can take another winter with these windows and I can’t see the other units agreeing to foot the bill for windows they don’t have access to. I don’t want to do anything that would breach our condo docs, however the only thing I can find in our docs is that each unit has exclusive use of their landing; all the other units have relatively new windows; and who would contest me paying for a repair out of my own pocket for my windows vs levying an assessment for them all to pay for mine? We’re on a pretty tight budget as is and—after contentious discussions—finally agreed to monthly HOA fees for planned assessments through 2019.

Mister Condo replies:

J.L., your friend may or may not be right. Windows are sometimes considered common elements and sometimes they aren’t. You need to look at your condo docs to see which is the case for you. If you are the owner of the windows the repair and replacement is on you. If the association owns the windows, it is on them. Either way, the association is responsible for the architectural compliance guidelines for the condo and the Board will have to approve whatever windows are going to be installed. Here’s a clue: you said “all the windows below me have new, modern windows”. How did that happen? Who paid for their windows? That will tell you who is responsible and then you will have your course of action. You should also be concerned that there is no money saved up for capital improvements. Without a healthy Reserve Fund, you may find yourself asking this same question when it comes time for a new roof, new parking lot, new siding, etc.. As the sole trustee, these are now your responsibilities. I hope you take on this duty seriously and lead your condo down the path to financial stability. All the best!

Making Condo Unit Owners Comply with Architectural Compliance

M.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m on the Board of a 118-unit high rise condo building and wondering if you’re aware of any effective strategies to enforce compliance with our “white only” exterior appearance of window treatments?

Mister Condo replies:

M.D., if the association has published and properly adopted architectural compliance guidelines that indicate “white only” exterior appearance of window treatments, it is as simple as citing the unit owners who have violated the guidelines. Typically, the Board would send a letter notifying the unit owner of the violation. If the unit owner complies in short order, no problem. If not, follow your documents as they pertain to rules violations. Typically, the unit owner is summoned to appear before the Board and offer defense/explanation. In this case, there isn’t too much to say. The window treatment is either white or it isn’t. The Board can then decide to fine the unit owner or not and use whatever methods it has at its dispose for correcting rules violations. My guess is the unit owners that are out of compliance have done so without knowing they were breaking the rules. A simple notice will likely suffice. If not, you have other options. Work with the unit owners to get them back in compliance. Time will heal all. Good luck!

Venting About Poor Condo Ventilation

N.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Could you suggest me to solve my condo problem, please? The problem is that my condo ventilation is very poor. In each room, there is one window, one ventilation fan and one door. The window is the only way of fresh air from outside. The door is connected to a shared corridor which air can’t be ventilated because there is no any window in the corridor. Moreover, the ventilation fan is in the bathroom of each room, and each fan of each room is connected to the same vent. The end of the vent should exhale the bad air to the outside of the building. However, this cannot be done. Instead, the end is closed. Could you suggest me any way to deal with this problem? One way that I can think of is to upgrade my own fan to be more powerful than other rooms’ fan so that the air will be pull out from my room since other rooms’ fan is less powerful than my fan. Is this going to help? Or, is there any better ways? Thank you for your time.

Mister Condo replies:

N.L., poor ventilation is certainly a big problem. Are you the only one in your condo who is having this issue? Typically, ventilation problems are solved by professionals who specialize in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (more commonly called HVAC). Your solution may be sound but applying it may not be as simple as installing a larger fan. Also, you might want to check with the Board before you make any changes as the HVAC system of the whole building may be outdated and need replacing. My advice is to write to the Board and tell them about your problem. Speak to your neighbors to see if they have similar ventilation issues. If enough of you are experiencing a problem, it may make more sense for the Board to hire an HVAC contractor to come and examine the property and provide a better ventilation solution. If there is no interest on the part of the Board to take the project on as an association, you might want to speak to an HVAC contractor to see how you can maximize your own ventilation for your own unit. I wish you fresh air and good luck!

Adding Skylights to a Condo Unit

N.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are doing the attic in our condo unit. Skylights have been approved by the department of buildings, but the condo board is disapproving it! What should we do?

Mister Condo replies:

N.S., architectural compliance is the purview of the Board. Skylights fundamentally change the exterior appearance of the roof, which is a common element owned by the association, not you. Therefore, you need to seek permission to modify this common element unless your governance documents say otherwise. Are there other skylights in other units? If so, that would be your argument before the Board to allow you to have them as well. However, the Board is under no obligation to grant your request and should you decide to go ahead and install them without their written approval, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit from the association that would require you to remove the skylights and return the roof to the same condition it was before your installed them. The best time to make a request for skylight installation is when the roof is being replaced. The Board may still not grant the request but since the roof is going to be replaced, it is an easy time for a modification to be made. All the best!

Curtain Wall Responsibility Questioned by Condo Owner

L.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Do you know of any condominiums where the unit owner is responsible for curtain walls?

Mister Condo replies:

L.S., I am sorry to say that I do, most commonly where glass is the building material in question. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here and my guess is that you will most certainly need one to interpret your condo docs to determine who actually owns the curtain walls. I have seen court cases ultimately make the final determination when associations and unit owners disagree over the curtain wall ownership. Even the state your unit is in will have an impact on the final decision as condo laws vary from state to state. Depending on whether the curtain walls are common areas, limited common areas, or specifically owned by the unit the responsibility will be determined. This litigation process can also be quite expensive so make sure you speak with a locally qualified attorney for an opinion before you proceed with a lawsuit. I hope this all works out for you and your fellow unit owners. Good luck!

Condo Documents Offer Confusing Description of Window Ownership

R.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The boundary of the windows says: the plane of the interior face of the glass and the frames mullions and muttons. So, who is responsible for window replacement?

Mister Condo replies:

R.H., without knowing more about your governing documents, I would be guessing who is responsible for your replacement windows. The legalese used to describe your window ownership is the stuff that makes community association attorneys busy for years and years! Sounds like common sense could cause you to argue the case for the ownership to be the association or the unit owner, depending on how the wind is blowing. My first question is what has been done in the past? Has the association paid in the past? If not, they aren’t likely to start paying for them now. If this is the first time through the window replacement project for the association, I would recommend an attorney offer a qualified opinion on the matter. The good news is it sounds like you are going to get some new windows. I hope you enjoy them!

Who Owns the Condo Skylights?

R.M. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What does the CT Building Code rules for skylights i.e. window or part of roof structure?  Should the HOA be responsible for repairs if the skylight was originally installed?

Mister Condo replies:

R.M, as far as I know, the Connecticut Building Code does not address skylights. Of course, I am neither a building inspector nor an expert on the Connecticut building code. Since skylights are a part of the roof, many associations treat them as common elements (owned and maintained by the association). However, I also know of some condominiums where the skylights are treated as though they were windows and owned and maintained by the unit owner. It really comes down to your governing documents although some are silent on the issue creating a grey area where the Board must make a determination as to who owns and maintains them. Once that decision is made, a precedent is set and from that point forward the repairs and maintenance are typically handled the same way. So, off to your governing documents you go to see what, if any, descriptors are in place for skylights. If there are none, look to the history of how they have been handled in the past. Good luck!

Homeschooling Condo Unit Owner Seeks to Add Garage Window

A.R. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I want to add a window in the garage because I homeschool my kids and is too hot inside for them.

Mister Condo replies:

A.R., I appreciate your desire to provide a window for your children as you feel it would help cool your garage, which I gather you are using as a classroom for homeschooling purposes. However, adding items like windows falls squarely under the governance authority of the Board who has to consider the architectural compliance issues that allowing you to do so may create. If you are allowed to add a window to a garage, theoretically all unit owners who asked for the same modification would have to be allowed. That creates a potential nightmare for the Board, who has a duty to keep the community looking in a uniform fashion. You can certainly ask but please respect the decision of the Board in this matter. It isn’t as simple granting your request to assist with your homeschooling efforts; the decision has far-reaching consequences. All the best!

New York City Condo Windows Taking Much Longer than a New York Minute!

K.M. from New York City writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I need to replace my windows. I’m on the 20th floor of a NYC high rise on the Hudson River – facing the river.  The windows are 30 years old and rotting.  One is visibly broken at the frame- separating from the glass and crazy bursts of wind come through all of them. The Management company is “letting” one owner replace their windows which have been on order for months.  They’re telling me I have to wait until JUNE of next year for some engineering report just to order them.  I am FREEZING and the summer will be hell. I WANT to pay for them to be replaced and they are delaying it with their bureaucracy.  What are my rights?

Mister Condo replies:

K.M., Congratulations on the decision to replace your broken windows. I am a bit surprised that the association doesn’t have a better window replacement program in place for you but I am not sure that they are violating your rights in any way by having you wait until they have an updated engineering report, especially if that report contains information relevant to your window replacement. There may be some temporary solution like having the windows sealed that could give you relief while you wait for your new windows to be installed. You may be able to ask about paying for your own engineering report although I suspect that would be very expensive. Of course, I am not an attorney so if you feel you have a legal claim against the association for preventing a faster window replacement timeline for you, you might want to get a legal opinion. I read an interesting article in the New York Times that you might want to review for a bit more information – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/realestate/the-red-tape-of-new-windows-in-new-york.html?_r=0

Good luck with your new windows. I am sure you will enjoy them once you get through this red tape.