Some condo water damage restoration challenges!
As you have probably seen already, water damages offer up many challenges for the restorer and property owner, whether you need a drain snake to clear a line, have a water heater that failed and sprayed water everywhere, or you have a sump pump that failed and you have a wet basement. The difficulties and safety issues involved can be delicate and sometimes complicated. All of these difficulties and complications are present in condo losses, but added elements exist as well.
With a commercial residential arrangement, such as an apartment building, there are two distinct and separate elements to the loss. One involves the building structure itself, and the other involves the belongings of the resident or residents. Because these are distinctly separate, any issue regarding the restoration of the structure can be addresses by contacting the structure’s owner or manager and any issue regarding the restoration of the contents can be addresses with the owner of those belongings.
With condos, the resident is usually the owner as well, but the owner does not own the entire property. Condos have what is referred to as Bylaws. These Bylaws outline what portion of the structure is the responsibility of the condo unit owner, and what portion of the structure is the responsibility of the condo association of the condo development. This complication adds a whole new level to the restoration process because approvals and agreements will often have to come from both parties. It is rare that water damage in a condo only affect what the condo unit owner is responsible for up keeping. In addition to this, reading the Bylaws and getting a clear understanding of where the separation lies.
Insurance company adjusters are aware of Bylaws and the difficulties they impart. Most adjusters assigned to a condo loss will ask for a copy of the Bylaws when they first speak to the insured. This process can usually delay the restoration of the condo, unless the condo unit owner or the condo association takes financial responsibility regardless of how the responsibilities fall. This does not always mean that reimbursements always follow after the sorting of the responsibilities are completed. For this reason, it can be a scary thing for a condo unit owner to take full financial responsibility before the Bylaws have been sorted out. The problem with not taking this responsibility is that the delay before taking restoration action can cause more damage than would have existed if prompt action was taken.
Keep in mind that a condo unit that has been rented out to a tenant will have the same separation of belongings and structure as an apartment, but the same structural responsibilities and Bylaw problems are still present for the condo unit owner. In addition, as with most apartments, many condos are not free standing structures, so water damage in one condo unit is possible to affect its neighbor as well. This can further compound the restoration process and quickly cause a confusing mess of responsibilities. In my experience it is easiest to treat each condo unit as a separate claim, at least initially. Then get each unit dry while communicating with the unit owner of each condo and the condo association, again sped up if the unit owner takes initial financial responsibility for paying for the project in full. Then after the project is complete the insurance companies, or lawyers, can sort out what parties are responsible for which portions of the loss. If this is attempted to be sorted out before work commences, then the delay could cause a great deal more damage, and result in a greater ultimate expense then would otherwise been accrued.
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