The application of roofing materials over sheathing and framing is the subject of much litigation in New Jersey. In most cases, the subcontractors doing the application of the roofing materials simply fail to follow manufacturer’s installation specifications and details. The general contractors fail to detect the deficiencies in the installation of the roofing materials, thereby contributing to the damages suffered by the condominium associations that ultimately wind up owning the buildings once transition of control of the common elements of the Association takes place. Irrespective of whether the subcontractor is ultimately liable to the general contractor/developer, it is the general contractor/developer who is liable to the condominium association in the first instance. The association can also make claims against the general contractor/developer. It makes no difference if the general contractor/developer or the subcontractor are insolvent or even bankrupt (or have simply disappeared). The insurance policies of both the general contractor/developer and the subcontractor(s) will all be on the line to pay or the damages suffered by the association.

In a recent case handled by Stark & Stark, a mid-sized condominium had multiple buildings finished with concrete, Mediterranean-style roof tiles. The roof tiles were installed by a subcontractor who did the work without following the manufacturer’s installation specifications. The general contractor/developer did not even have the manufacturer’s installation specifications and details. As a result, the subcontractor installed the tiles on battens that were not weeped or pressure-treated. The general contractor did not notice the error because it did not have the manufacturer’s specifications and because the general contractor/developer thought it was appropriate to inspect the roofs from the ground (despite the fact that the roofs were over 30 feet off the ground). The fabric paper was also lapped backwards and numerous roof and kick-out flashings were missing. Since the tiles covered the roof paper and the battens and the general contractor/developer was unfamiliar with kick-out flashings, the deficiencies went undetected for years. Finally, after years of leaks, the Association hired experienced engineers to open the roofs and determine the cause of the problem. In ensuing litigation, the Association recovered millions of dollars for the roof and related problems with the exterior insulation and finish system on the buildings.

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