S.P. from Washington State writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
While stripping wallpaper from our condo bathroom, we found that the wall is not drywall or plaster. It’s Masonite or a particle board. We are the original owners, so this was a building flaw that was not to code. Who is responsible for having drywall hung? The association or homeowner?
Mister Condo replies:
S.P., if your condo was not built to code, the local Building Inspector at the time should not have approved it for occupancy. This type of oversight happens all too often in the rapid-fire pace of condo construction but more ethical builders are much better at maintaining standards and code compliancy when building because they know, in the long run, the quality of their buildings and their reputation are what help to sell new projects. Once the association took possession of the condo buildings, the builder was released from future problems. However, if the builder created a defective product by not following code at the time, the builder may still be sued by the association for construction defects. This assumes a few things – that the defect is substantial, that the builder is still in business, and that the association wishes to act and can afford to do so. Construction defect lawsuits can take years and cost the association (you and your fellow unit owners) lots of money. If all that is needed is drywall added to your bathroom, you might consider hiring a local drywall contractor to get the problem taken care of on your own. You can ask the Board if other units have had the same problem and how it was handled. The Board may choose to pay for the repair but, in my experience, they typically don’t want to open that can of worms because they are now stating that they are acknowledging a defect and that they will pay for it. It is quite possible that you are the only unit owner who has reported this problem. I am not saying that you won’t be successful if you decide to pursue the Board for a remedy in this situation but you should also consider the cost to you and other unit owners if the Board decides to pursue a construction defect lawsuit because of your complaint. All the best!