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What COAs should know about water intrusion (part 2): How construction defects contribute

Buildings and water don't mix. When water seeps into the walls, ceiling, exterior or foundation of a condominium building, the damage can be extensive. COAs are often baffled as to how such widespread destruction could have happened - especially in newer construction.

In part one of this series, we looked at warning signs of water intrusion. Here, we'll examine the various species of construction defects that might have caused the damage.

What COAs should know about water intrusion (part 1): What to watch for

One of the most common construction issues that Florida condo associations face is water intrusion. Left unchecked, leaks can cause extensive damage, and the repairs can be costly.

Warning signs of water

The first step in dealing with these issues is to identify them as soon as possible. Sometimes, leaks are obvious. Water might be visibly seeping from ceilings or windows after a heavy rain.

Ask an expert to trace a construction defect back to its source

Because of the weather here in Florida, one of the most common problems for property owners is water intrusion. Construction defects due to shoddy construction methods, design flaws or problematic building materials can result in water intrusion and subsequent damage that plagues condominiums. The resulting repairs can be costly.

Construction defects: the association's responsibility or the owner's?

It's a common scenario: an association for a condo or residential development discovers serious construction problems. Perhaps water intrusion has led to widespread mold growth and structural damage. Perhaps poor-quality materials have deteriorated long before their lifespans. Or perhaps code violations come to light, requiring costly repairs.

These issues might give rise to a construction defect claim. Florida law establishes a process for pursuing accountability from the developer, contractor, supplier or other responsible parties. That process might culminate in a lawsuit.

How construction defects lead to costly problems with balconies

Condo owners often romanticize balconies. They imagine themselves taking in fresh air while drinking their morning coffee, or having friends over and using the balcony for additional seating.

While you may be in love with the idea of a balcony, the associated risks can keep you up at night. Because a balcony projects from the building, common problems such as moisture, structural defects or improper installation can be deadly. And in many cases, these issues arise from construction defects, whether during the initial construction/conversion or following major repairs and renovations.

5 common questions about defects during turnover

For a new condo owners' association (COA), the thought of discovering a construction defect is unsettling. With standardized units, a defect in one unit is likely to have a large-scale impact and add up quickly. Before taking over the property, it's wise to review these commonly asked questions about construction defects.

COAs and HOAs: When and how to hire an inspector

As every homebuyer knows, hiring an inspector to evaluate a potential purchase is well worth the time and investment. The same is true for residential developments. It's important for HOAs, COAs and property managers to know when - and how - to enlist a trusted expert.

A knowledgeable construction law attorney can help identify qualified inspectors. Associations should also rely on legal counsel for guidance on when it's wise to involve an inspector, and for what specific issues.

In general, however, there are two critical junctures when associations typically hire an inspector:

Construction defects in exterior elements: What can go wrong

Defective construction can affect any aspect of a structure, from the foundation to the roof. Many defects involve internal components such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing. However, a thorough inspection of the exterior can also reveal a great deal about potentially catastrophic problems - especially in large structures such as condominiums.

COAs, HOAs and property managers should be aware of what can go wrong. 

Identifying construction defects during turnover

In any major purchase, due diligence is critical to making sure you don't get taken advantage of. But the old saying "Let the buyer beware" carries more weight than usual when the product involved is your home or condo. And if you are one of a group of owners in a Florida condominium or homeowner association, necessary due diligence steps can get lost in the shuffle unless extra care is taken, resulting in costly repairs down the road.

Lessons From Irma: How Associations & Property Managers Can Prepare

Peak hurricane season in Florida is almost upon us. And that means it's time for associations and property managers to gear up for potential storm damage.

Although this season is forecasted to be a mild one, there's no telling for sure when another big one will hit. Far too many property managers and owners were caught off guard by the record-breaking tempests of 2017. Best to prepare for the worst by building upon the lessons from Irma.

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