D.B. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The siding on the back of my condo has warped. The association says it was the vent from my gas fireplace. I had a service company check out my unit and they said it was working 100% perfectly. The association has charged me $221.00 to replace the siding. Is this my responsibility or the association’s since we really don’t know what caused the warping? It could even have been damage from the ice storm we had a few years ago. Thanks!
Mister Condo replies:
D.B., regardless of the cause of the warping the repair had to be made. Your Board came to the conclusion (correctly or otherwise) that the warping was caused by your gas fireplace ventilation system, making the repair your responsibility. The opinion of the service company you hired for the inspection did not figure into the Board’s decision and the only recourse you have left is to seek remuneration through litigation, meaning you would need to sue the Board for the $221.00. While you may be in the right, I cannot advise you to sue the Board for such a small amount as your legal fees alone will far outweigh any judgment you might receive. Honestly, my guess is that the Board can find a service provider to claim even though your unit was working 100% perfectly the heat generated still caused the damage. I am not sure you would prevail, adding additional cost to your burden and not solving any problem for you. My advice is to pay the repair this time and keep a close eye on the siding in the future. If it was your gas fireplace you would be well advised to make sure the ventilation takes the heat further from the building. If it was hot enough to warp siding, it may be hot enough to cause fire. If the warping was caused by something else (perhaps the ice storm as you have suggested) it would behoove you and the Board to get a building engineer on site to evaluate. Also, is it just your unit where this has happened? The way most condos are built, similar style and materials, I would think a systemic problem might evolve over time, in which case the Board might have to take larger repair action than just getting the siding on your unit fixed. Take a good look around your complex; talk to your neighbors; see if you are alone in this phenomenon. If not, take action with the Board. If it’s just you, do what you can to stay safe and let’s hope there is no more warping. All the best!