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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    VA
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    1

    Default 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Hello,

    I live in a second floor apartment with one wall facing the weather. I think there may be structural damage to some floor joists and wall. The building was built in the early 1900s but must have been renovated to some degree by now. I have lived here for 4 years and started smelling a musty odor the last month or so. I started cleaning and looking around and in one room found that there is a crack in the lower corner of the dry wall where walls meet. There is a gap between the floor where the molding ends and floor is (1"). I took a flash light and looked and saw what appears to be a joist sliding into brick (exterior wall is brick). The top of the joist appears to be rotting. Im having an inspector come out soon and am trying not to freak out.

    1. how long does it take floor joists to rot with some or little water exposure (assuming no bug input)

    2. How difficult and expensive can it be to sister the joist or replace the entire joist?

    3. Could the entire span of the joist be damaged? (Rest of it is under carpet and wood flooring, no water damage to my knowledge.

    4. Being in an multifloor apartment, is it even possible to jack the floor if needed?

    Thanks for any input.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Lansdale, PA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Hello. As an engineer, I would say that it would be better to have this investigated by a structural engineer. I often have to remove portions of walls, ceilings, etc. to properly evaluate things. Most inspectors probably would not do that (many engineers may not either).

    However, before you go spending money you should talk to the condo management association. Since this is part of the structure it may not be your responsibility. Also, since I assume the problem is due to water penetration, that may be the condo's responsibility. Siding is usually condo responsibility, windows are usually owner responsibility, but this can vary.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,243

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    As a condo, the condo owners association owns the structure - floors, exterior walls and load bearing interior walls, roof, etc.

    Typically, for condos, the only the owner owns is the space between the drywall, the owner typically does not even own the drywall as that is (again, typically) part of the separation between condo units - the owner typically owns what we refer to as "paint-to-paint" (but may own interior walls within the condo unit if there are not common items in those walls).

    In addition to Mark's information, check to see what you own - it should be stated in your condo documents you received when you bought the unit.

    Keep in mind that if the moisture/water penetration issue/problem is affecting many areas (it very likely may be), then you, as one of the association owners, will share in the overall costs as specified in the condo documents.

    Let's presume that there are 25 condo units, all the same size, typically that would mean that each condo owner would be responsible for 4% (25 x 4% = 100%) of all repair costs to the common areas. Some items, such as roofs, parking areas, etc., should have a reserve in the annual budget for their expected eventual replacement. Other items, such as you mentioned, may require special assessments to cover the cost of repairs.

    But, the final answer we can give is: read what your condo documents say about what is yours and what it theirs (the association) and how costs are addressed/shared/budgeted for.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    An infra red camera may aid in determining the extent and locations of damage and/or further damage.


    1. It likely has been going on for some time and once the wood stays wet the mould spores will thrive.

    2. Dependent on type of construction, access, extent of damage, also interior finishes may have to be removed and replaced to get at the joist(s). Even then replacement doesn't do any good if the water issues are not resolved.

    3. Yes and there could be other joists and/or studs damaged.

    4. That would be dependent on a number of factors. How long is a piece of string. Costs are dependent on extent of damage and that won't be known until further invasive action is carried out.

    It also maybe very likely there are other areas in the building given the age.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Something else to consider. If the cause of the damage is determined to be moisture related and it probably is, the the source may be coming from leaky plumbing, either your own or a neighbor. If the latter, then they and their homeowners insurance would be responsible. If the damage is a result of your own leak then you you may not be covered under your own policy...assuming you have one. Usually homeowners insurance does not cover slow leaks or resulting damage but would cover third party claims.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,243

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Something else to consider. If the cause of the damage is determined to be moisture related and it probably is, the the source may be coming from leaky plumbing, either your own or a neighbor. If the latter, then they and their homeowners insurance would be responsible. If the damage is a result of your own leak then you you may not be covered under your own policy...assuming you have one. Usually homeowners insurance does not cover slow leaks or resulting damage but would cover third party claims.
    The wall is an exterior wall, not likely to have plumbing in it other than for a fixture which backs up to that wall.

    In a condo, and again "typically", any DWV plumbing between walls will be common plumbing piping, and supply piping may be:
    - common if water is included in the monthly condo fee
    - separate and individual if the water is individually paid for with some common piping supplying the different units
    - the responsibility for the damage from such water leaks would be based on who owns the piping ... likely the condo association

    Additionally, leaks from above should not happen as the floors should be fireblocked and firestopped, which should make the floors leak-resistant ... of course, a building built back in the early 1900s may not have much, or any, fireblocking and firestopping, and what was intended was likely not installed as intended - again, though, typically condo association responsibility as the structure is owned by the association.

    Additionally, while many newer condos have the windows and doors the responsibility of the owner, leakage around the outside of the windows and doors are frequently the responsibility of the condo association ... condo associations typically frown on owners setting up scaffolding and swing-stages to re-caulk or re-seal around windows and doors, and if the condo association does not permit such, then the condo association takes on that responsibility (even if they may have it spelled out otherwise in their documents - if they don't permit the owner to do what the owner is required to do, the condo association assumes that responsibility).

    Just a lot of information we don't know, and a lot of information the original poster likely does not know but needs to find out, not the least of which are the condo association rules and requirements for everything ... should be printed in a book provided at purchase, but the condo office should also have a copy one can read, and probably a fee to buy a copy to replace one which was lost or misplaced.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Jerry
    I'm very familiar with a variety of rules and regs. affecting condos. I currently own several and have owned many more in the past. All have different language in their CC&Rs outlining their own responsibilities versus the homeowner. Obviously there is a lot we don't know about the issues reported. As you are aware, moisture will inevitable follow the path of least resistance. Any plumbing in an upper unit, no matter it's location to the affected framing members, should be considered until the actual source is determined. I agree that moisture penetration from an exterior source is likely, given the limited information but not absolute.

    I recently had had to repair a water damaged ceiling in one of my units. The cause was a long-time leaking supply to an outside hose bib in an upper units patio dripping onto the floor. My damage was at least 15' away from the faucet above. The HOA denied any responsibility, even though the CC&Rs stipulated care and maintenance of external walls, including roofs. The floor of the patio served as a roof over my units dining area. Fortunately the upper unit owner covered repair costs and remediation. Their homeowners insurance denied the upper unit's claim and my costs were less than their deductible.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    869

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    If the damage is structural, I agree that it would almost certainly be the responsibility of the condo to repair. Also, there is a good chance that the damage you discovered exists elsewhere too.

    I bought a building not too long ago and discovered that the Yankee gutters, that had been covered over, were leaking water into the bricks and deteriorated quite a bit of mortar and beam ends. I'm sure it took years.

    Sure, it could be something like a leaking pipe, but if so; likely a sanitary line. If feel that if it were a pressurized line, the leak would be more noticeable and constant.

    Another cause that could be considered and could certainly effect the beam ends is Rising Damp.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: 2nd floor condo potential water damage

    Years ago, I lived in a condo in San Francisco. When it came time to paint the building, it was discovered that a leaking window frame of a top floor rental unit caused a tremendous amount of wood rot to pretty much the entire front of the building. It was stucco. Everything had to be removed from the exterior and rebuilt, some units had to get new windows as well. HUGE mess, thousands of dollars, and all of the condo owners had to split the cost according to their square footage...
    The sad part is that the renter of the offending unit KNEW his window leaked for years, but never bothered to tell anyone.


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