D.A. from Westchester County, New York writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I’m curious to know what the term “upper face of subfloor” means as in “each unit consists of the upper face of the subfloor”, etc. I’m having issues with either the subfloor of my unit or the joists/support below. I’m at the point where my rug is up, and have been given permission from management to open up the ceiling below (I’m above a basement). I was told to save $ you can open yourself. There are many issues coming into play here. I guess first off is it turns out the subfloor is worn out (it’s extremely squeaky) who is responsible? Also, do you think I should’ve been given the task to stand on a ladder and open up a 12-foot ceiling to peer in and report an issue? If nothing is wrong below should I be responsible for the subfloor considering it is a nuisance the noise as opposed to a structure issue?
Mister Condo replies:
D.A., you have a few things going on here that have me shaking my head. First off, I am sorry that you are having issues with your subflooring. I would most certainly not handle this issue by myself unless you are a licensed and experienced flooring contractor. When problems that may require an engineering solution (floor joists, for instance), there is always the possibility of safety being an issue. A collapsed floor joist above a basement could be catastrophic. As for responsibility for the repair, it really depends what the problem is. For instance, if you have hardwood floors, the hardwood sits on top of the upper face of the subfloor. If the hardwood has failed and is causing the squeak, that may be on you. If the subfloor has failed and is causing the hardwood to buckle, it may be the responsibility of the association. At the end of the day, it may come down to cost and who is willing to spend the money for the structural engineer to come have a look. It shouldn’t be too expensive but unless the Board will pay for it, you might want to pay for it yourself so that you are armed with an opinion on where the problem lies. If the engineer tells you that the subfloor has failed (from what you have described that may be the case), then you are well-armed to demand the association fix the subfloor, joists included. If it were me, I would want that opinion in my pocket before the floor fails completely. All the best!
3 thoughts on “Condo Association Unwilling to Inspect Unit Owner’s Subfloor”
Get an engineer
Would the Condo “documents” have language in them that speaks to the subfloor & who is responsible?
I would hope it’s the Association!
C.R., it is possible but it is more common that the documents are silent on the subject, meaning it is open to interpretation. Since the subfloor is likely outside the area that the owner is definitely responsible for, the assumption is that the association is responsible. In many cases that is true but not always. Condo law varies from state to state and there are times when court cases make rulings that further define the responsibility. When gray areas occur, this is usually the result.