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A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

Bear with me...this is a bit long: Litigation is over. Settlement received.

Contacted in 2007. Case settled in 2011. Remediation started in 2012.

Initial task was to evaluate potential water intrusion and deterioration of a 15-building, condominium facility in Northeast Florida, USA.

15 Buildings
Each building had between 18 and 22 units. (300 Units, total)
Buildings were constructed with wood framing, OSB exterior sheathing, and stucco facade.
Constructed in 4 phases by two separate general contractors. Many of the subcontractors were the same though different general contractors for the phases. GC # 1 only built the first three buildings. GC #2 built remainder of the buildings.

Manifestation of problems as complained by residents:

Water intrusion around windows
Mold growth
AC thermostats not responsive
Electric bills inconsistent

Initial investigation:
Visual assessment found improper window flashings (no head flashing, no appropriate sealant around windows...
Lots of cracking in stucco
Improper spacing of control joints in stucco
Coating problems with several buildings (alkali burn in coatings...obvious deterioration)
Improper termination of roof flashings
Improper sealing of roof flashing terminations and interface with stucco
Pavement problems
Drainage problems

Follow up investigation:
Destructive observation around windows revealed severe water intrusion and substrate deterioration
Found breaches of fire rated walls
Stucco was not installed in accordance with building code (and stucco system was not an approved system)
Flashings between roof and walls not properly done
No air infiltration barrier installed in Phase 1 (first 3 buildings)

Result of investigation and testing:
Found paper-backed lath was installed incorrectly resulting in water intrusion and deterioration of lath from water intrusion
Windows leaked
Stucco falling off wall from improper placement
Structural issues with ties between floor
Roof/wall flashing issues resulting in deterioration of substrate

Preliminary engineering opinion of cost of repair: $9.8 million

Bids received from contractors for repair: 9.7 to 10.4 million

Ultimate settlement: about 6 million

Currently in remediation of first 3 buildings. Remediation of first three buildings.....$1.2 million. (Phase 1 was in worse condition as compared to phases 1a, 2 and 3.)

4+ years of litigation
7 days of deposition for me
3 mediation attempts...3rd attempt successful for owners

Will post a few photos in subsequent posts....

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

So who screwed up on this? The architect/engineering details? Sub-contractors didn't follow the plans?

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

Florida has had more than its share of these. Partly because of the humid environment (which you seem to like), and partly because of stupid architects and builders brought in from elsewhere. I was involved in investigation and remediation of the first big "sick building" project in Florida, a courthouse which you doubtless know about. Settlement in that case was about $35 million. Some of your issues sound very familiar.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

JAE....claim was against the general contractors, all subs, the architect and the developer....all paid a piece of the pie.
Final settlement was about 6 million. After attorney took his bite, net to the homeowners was a bit over 4 million.

As for fault...all of the above!

Architectural details were poor. Contract admin was poor. Submittals sucked. Contractor had supervision problems. Exterior cladding did not comply with code (one-coat stucco system...must be separately approved by Building Official...not done until third phase of construction). No air infiltration barrier applied (house wrap). Paper-backed lath was used, but improperly applied.

Here's a shot of some of the damage....

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

hokie66...very familiar with the infamous Polk County Courthouse! During that time I was wrapped up with investigating failure of dynamic structures (amusement rides at a "major central Florida attraction"), so others in my company at the time had the opportunity to work on that one. Yes, the issues are similar and the mold growth on the condo project was amazing as well! Very similar issues that have yet to make it into the contractor's training realm. I have not found one stucco sub who knows how to interface flashing with stucco. Pretty amazing that we are 20 years down the road with claims and most of them still do it wrong.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

That was ugly.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

It is not only contractors who are ignorant of flashing, waterproofing, and vapor retarder issues. Architects don't know, either. Once upon a time, an architect's primary duty was to keep the water out, but now many of them only worry about making their buildings "aesthetically pleasing". Then, when the inevitable happens, and their buildings leak like a sieve, architects employ their other skill, being very slippery in avoiding most of the liability. Sorry, JAE, I know you have a son on the dark side, but that is the way I see it more often than not.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

JAE...that was from the last building constructed of the 15 total. It was 5 years old when that photo was taken.
Here's another one from the first phase of construction...finished in 2004. This wall was starting to "go south". We noticed this when the stucco started to bulge from structural movement.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

Holy wall-sauna, Batman. That is even worse.

hokie - no worries. My son (in my view) is one of the better ones, of course. And in the midwest USA there's not quite the moisture severity as in Ron's swamp land.

RE: A Case History - Condominium Envelope Failure

Uh..JAE....sshhhhhh....that's lakefront.

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