Liability insurance policies insuring sponsors, general contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals are confusing and loaded with complex terminology that make them difficult to understand. Yet, it is these policies that hold the key to the ability of a community association to recover damages from design and construction deficiencies. Rather than making your eyes glaze over by going through a lengthy analysis of the arcane language of these policies, here, in a nut shell, stripped of the legal jargon, are the basic concepts you need to know:

Continue Reading How Can the Community Association Collect From Insurance Policies Insuring the Sponsor, General Contractor, Subcontractors, and Design Professionals?

Stucco is a product that has been in use as an exterior building cladding since the early 1800’s. It is made from Portland cement, sand and water. When installed correctly, stucco has been a reliable building material that looks good and allows incidental moisture infiltrating behind the stucco to be safely and efficiently evacuated from the building. Once stucco dries it is as hard as concrete.

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With the Stucco on Our Buildings?

The economic situation for small businesses in America is dire. Following the widespread social distancing and stay-at-home orders, 7.5 million small businesses are now at risk of closing their doors permanently within the next several months if the coronavirus pandemic restrictions continue.

The situation has business owners searching for ways to keep their operations afloat. The CARES Act, for example, promises more small business support in its new aid package. This relief, however, has been slow to make its way to business owners.

Continue Reading Business, Interrupted

COVID-19 is the singular topic currently dominating everyone’s lives and thoughts worldwide. Each passing day new information is revealed, as more questions arise. What is this virus? Where did it come from? Is it okay to drink wine this early in the day? And, most importantly, how can we protect our staff and community from the continued spread of this virus?

Continue Reading COVID-19: Protecting Your Staff and Community

If your community association is involved in matters requiring the hiring of experts, including, but not limited to, transition-related issues, or in evaluating what to do about design and/or construction deficiencies, financial irregularities, or environmental concerns, among others, the association is going to need to engage one or more experts to assist in investigating and determining the cause and scope of each problem, a protocol for fixing each problem, and evaluating who is responsible for the damages sustained by the association.

Continue Reading A Cautionary Tale: Resist the Impulse to Exert Pressure on Your Expert to Give Opinions They Don’t Really Believe

Brick is among the materials that are most commonly used as an exterior cladding material on condominiums and other residential buildings in New Jersey. If correctly installed and maintained, it will usually last for the life of the building without allowing water to penetrate inside the wall cavity where it can damage sheathing and framing. Nevertheless, we are routinely called upon to assist condominium and homeowner’s associations that have reports of damage to their buildings caused by deficient design and/or installation of brick.

Continue Reading What Can the Association Do About Damage From Water Infiltration Through Brick?

Your community association may become aware of significant transition, design, and/or construction defect claims. This awareness may come from the association receiving complaints from unit owners, or perhaps your property manager or a transition engineering inspection report will have visually identified issues of concern. Whatever the source of the Board’s knowledge, in exercising its fiduciary responsibilities, the Board members may find themselves confronting a potentially expensive decision fraught with all kinds of financial and political consequences. Does the association litigate all the way to trial if necessary? Does the association file suit to posture that it is serious about litigation, and then settle without going through expensive depositions? Does it negotiate with the sponsor, knowing that the association will not litigate but will take whatever it can get?

Continue Reading Factors to Evaluate in Deciding Whether the Cost of Litigation Is Worth the Likely Return on Investment

It’s that moment that no homeowner wants to have. You just returned from vacation and were in the midst of stowing the suitcases under the house in your crawlspace. As you were exiting the crawlspace, something caught your eye—a wet spot on the concrete slab floor. It wasn’t a puddle, but it was clearly moisture.

Hoping for something minor, you began to poke around. During your search, you discovered that a portion of insulation in between the floor boards was soaked. While you removed what you thought was the problem, you saw a water leak dripping down a vertical pipe in between your walls.

Unfortunately, every homeowner will have to deal with a situation like this at one time or another. Fortunately, we have insurance for these very situations, however, knowing what to do and how to handle this situation will make a world of difference to both your mental health and to your wallet.

Continue Reading Dealing with the Unexpected: Filing an Insurance Claim

It has been several months since the New Jersey Supreme Court decided Cypress Point Condo Ass’n v. Adria Towers, LLC.

The issue in Cypress Point was whether rain water damage caused by a subcontractor’s faulty workmanship constituted “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” to trigger coverage under a condominium developer’s commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. Cypress Point, a condominium association, filed claims against Adria Towers, the developer, and its insurers, as well as various subcontractors. Adria Towers was also the general contractor on the condominium project and hired the subcontractors who performed the construction work. The Association alleged faulty workmanship during construction and claimed consequential damages.

Continue Reading What Should Condominium Associations Do After Cypress Point?

Having construction work or renovations done on your home is certainly an exciting, but undoubtedly stressful time. In fact, the process from selecting a suitable (and experienced) contractor to completion of the project can be downright daunting at times. As a homeowner myself, who coincidentally is going through this very process as we speak, I know the difficulties of sifting through countless potential contractors, negotiating prices, and coordinating schedules and the like. As daunting as it may seem, there are certain steps a homeowner can take at the outset that will mitigate potential pitfalls during construction, ensure your project is constructed properly, mitigate construction disputes, and alleviate unnecessary stress.

Continue Reading How You Can Mitigate Construction Disputes with Contractors