Re: Taking possession of the building from the developer
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 12:35:56 -0800 (PST)

On Mar 16, 2005, at 3:12 PM, katie-henry [at] wrote:

1. Most of the remaining work is minor, but there's one large item -- a drainage problem that caused several units to be flooded during heavy rain. The developer has identified several corrective actions. Some of this work has already been performed, and some is still pending (waiting on plans from the civil engineer, bids, etc.). There is a sentiment in the community that we should not accept the building until all of the flood-control work is complete. If we accept the building before the work is complete, does it weaken our legal position if the developer doesn't finish the work (something I think is extremely unlikely) or if it turns out the work that was done is insufficient to prevent future flooding? However, on the other hand, we can't really test the work in a meaningful way until the next heavy rain, which might be months away.

Look at the condo law in MD which will state how long the warranty is on condos for structural defects. Some things are under warranty for 2 years and others five years. Structural defects are a special category. Ask your lawyer, but taking possession doesn't mean you can't pursue these things. You have a set time period to discover problems.

We are 4+ years out from taking full possession and just settled our warranty claims. We still have one major structural problem to be corrected. The developer has to pay for these corrections.

Our lawyer is Betty Hileman and she was excellent in helping us with this process.

2. What is a deficiency report? I'm getting two definitions. (1) The community hires an engineer or inspector immediately after building hand-over to do another inspection to identify problems that weren't evident during the first inspection. (2) The community hires an engineer or inspector towards the end of the warranty period (three years) to identify problems that have developed during the warranty period. Can anyone enlighten me?

Absolutely have this done. We had a person supervising construction and two members -- an engineer and an architect--over seeing things. No one can see everything or know everything. Many of our members objected to this because they were so involved in the construction and design but it was the best money we ever spent. We found code violations and major drainage issues that to be resolved in addition to things that just weren't done right. Pipes too small for the sump pumps to work, missing insulation on water pipes exposed to the outdoors, balconies that had the wrong supports, etc. HVAC systems that didn't work. These keep appearing for years.

We had Becht Engineering do our engineering study at the same time they did our reserve study. It was worth every penny not only for the studies but now we have an engineer who thoroughly understands our property that we can call on for advice. We could never have dealt with our construction company. They kept coming back and doing surface fixes that the engineer would reject. We would have signed off on them and then have had major problems the next time it rained.

In our case, the study paid for itself a million times over -- well, maybe 10 times over. Do it now. Call Betty.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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