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What’s the difference between a Reserve Study and a Building Evaluation?  Do HOAs need both?   A reserve study is basically an accounting exercise; its purpose is to estimate the life expectancy of building components. A building evaluation assesses the condition of those components.  Although a Criterium Engineers reserve study includes a building assessment, many reserve studies do not.  Condominium communities older than 10 years definitely need both.

What does a Criterium Engineers pre-purchase inspection of a condominium unit include?   It includes critical components within the unit, including: Electrical wiring, the HVAC system, plumbing, finishes, doors, windows and smoke detectors.  We will also do a brief overview of common areas, noting the condition of building exteriors, the roof, and parking areas to identify any obvious signs of deferred maintenance or neglect.

How can the HOA board determine if it has grounds to file a construction defect suit against the developer?  You should retain the services of a competent consulting engineer to evaluate the conditions giving rise to your concerns.  A Criterium Engineers inspection will identify the source and extent of the problems and provide the documentation to support a defect claim should the board decide to pursue one.

Some of the windows in our high-rise condominium are leaking.  Will we have to replace all the windows or only the ones that are leaking now?  The first step is to determine why the windows are leaking.   Sometimes the problem is the window itself; sometimes it is the way the window was installed.  Once you determine the ‘why,’ you can decide which windows need attention and whether they should be repaired or replaced.

One roofing contractor tells us the roof must be replaced; another says it only needs to be repaired.  How do we know which analysis is correct?   Retain the services of an independent consulting engineer, who can help you answer that question, but who (unlike the roofing contractors) has no vested interest in what the answer turns out to be.

The railings on some decks are becoming unstable?  Why would this occur and what should we do about it? This is, unfortunately, a common problem and there are many possible reasons for it, among them: Age, weather-related damage and improper installation.  Whatever the cause, railing failures are a serious hazard, requiring immediate attention.  The first step:  Restrict access to any questionable railings.  After that, have a qualified engineer inspect all the railings in the community, including those that are not obviously unstable.  If there are structural problems with some railings, you may find the same structural problems in others.

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