Chaos and the Condo

Demolishing outer framework. Covering interiors with plastic. Hammering nails. Drilling holes. Sawing wood and siding. Climbing clanky metal ladders. Running on roofs. Installing windows. Breaking sheetrock. Making a mess. Blocking parking spaces. Taking hours to do presumably simple tasks. Listening in on crew conversations. Translating Spanish (from the crew) to English (for my wife). Getting cabin fever. Not getting enough sleep.


All this is happening at my condominium complex and it’s driving me crazy!

Let me say now that I’m writing this blog post for three specific reasons:

  1. It’s cathartic.
  2. It a great way to vent off some steam
  3. Most importantly, it’s my way of letting you know why it seems like I’ve dropped off the planet a bit and why you haven’t been seeing me or hearing from me much lately .

The Refurbishing Project

So, what’s going on here? Well, our condominium complex is going through a major refurbishing project. And I do mean major. All of the buildings in our complex are getting new roofs, new siding, new windows, new decks, new structures to bring our buildings up to local earthquake resistance standards, a new paint job,  and (some) new lighting. It’s a project that took our condo’s Board of Directors two years to plan and will take an estimated 9 months to compete. (10 months if you include associated delays that have popped up.) The work started mid-May of this year and will end (hopefully) by the end of February 2012. Assuming the weather holds out during crucial phases of the work.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why on earth do you need such a project? Especially with the way the economy is at the moment – this must be costing you a fortune!” You’re right: it is costing us a fortune.

As for why we need this: Well, we simply have no other choice but to have this work done. Over the past twenty-odd years, the condo community has patch-worked, duct-taped, and bubble-gummed a wide variety of problems and issues, and chosen to pursue the least expensive options to handle some of the more serious issues. It was bound to catch up with us sooner or later, and it certainly did!  The complex was at the point where things were simply and literally going to fall apart if we did not take care of them properly and thoroughly once and for all.

The upshot is that our property values will definitely increase once the work is completed. That’s actually great news at a time when most home prices have or are continuing to drop.

A Brief Tour of “The Project”

I’ll show you a few photos that will illustrate just what’s been going on around here since May. First, I’ll provide you with a point of reference by showing you a photo (last winter) of one of our buildings and how it looked before this started.



As you can see in this “Before” photo, the paint if fading in some areas, there are patches in the siding, the windows are inconsistent, and it just looks old in general. The scary part is what you can’t see behind the siding or up on the roofs.


Note: I’m conveying a short, compressed version of what’s been going on around here, so you must understand that all of this has transpired over the past five months. The project started in mid-May and it is late-October as I write this. The current date of completion is approximately mid-February of 2012. (There’s still a lot of interior work to do.)


The first order of business was to work on the roofs, which were sorely in need of proper repair and reconditioning. Aside from repairing the damage, the crew added a new parapet, which is supposed to help the roof ventilate more efficiently. All of the buildings were slated to get new roofs, so you can imagine the work going on above us – it unfortunately started at 8:00 in the morning and lasted until 5:00 in the evening. There were times when I thought the crew just might fall down into someone’s living room.


image   image


Next, there were crews that had to remove all of the siding and get to the very structural frame of the building. There was a lot of dry rot and weak boards to remove and replace, and the guys also had to replace a lot of badly damaged insulation.  We knew that quite a bit of the framework would require replacement, but we discovered that the damage was more extensive than we anticipated.


The crews would cover both the outside structures and interior window areas with plastic as they worked through the buildings so that they could manage falling debris and keep their work dry. We had this plastic cover for at least four months.


 image   image


Once the repairs, refurbishing and upgrades were completed on the structure, the crews began to attach plywood, DensGlass shaftwall material, and an orange vapor barrier sheeting to all of the outer walls and surfaces. It was very weird to see brown, yellow and orange buildings as I headed to the exit of the parking lot.


image   image


There were some unexpected issues with the decks and it took the architects a good two weeks to figure out how to overcome them. Apparently, some work our Condo Association had done a couple of years ago was not as good, sound or thorough as we were led to believe. Oh well, live and learn…


The crews then worked on installing windows, patio doors, and siding. The cool thing about getting new windows is that we’ll finally have proper flashing, insulation and caulking! We and other owners have complained about this for years and we’re so happy that it was included in this project.


image   image


Now the paint crews have arrived and are starting to paint the buildings. We have a funky gray-scheme going on here – a darkish gray on the upper level, followed by a lighter gray in the middle level, finished with an even lighter gray on the bottom level. There will be white trim along the parapet, windows and garage doors. It looks pretty darn weird just now, but I think (and hope) it will look great once it’s all done.


You’re probably thinking, “Cool! It looks like his life will get back to normal in a few weeks.” Nope. Not yet. We still have interior window trim and drywall work that needs to be done. Our unit will need quite a bit of work because they had to shorten the size of our clearstory windows and the skylight in the bathroom, thus adding new framework to both areas. Yes, despite how things seem just now, we have about another three months of chaos ahead. “Why three months!?”, you say. Well, it’s due to the fact that the work is done in spurts, that is, when they can get the right crews together to tackle a big chunk of work at one time. Not my ideal situation, but it is what it is.


I’ll post an update again in a couple of months once we’re into the interior work phase.


Parting Thoughts

I hope this gives you an idea of what I’ve been doing and dealing with these past few months. I also hope it helps you understand why you haven’t heard from me or seen me very much lately, and why it’s taken me some time (more than I would like, I assure you) to get back to you on emails, replies (on discussion threads) or projects.

Continuing to deal with the final phases of this project will be my status quo until at least the end of January 2012, so I hope you’ll bear with me until then. I certainly appreciate your patience and understanding while I continue to meet commitments, appointments and deadlines as best as I can.

I haven’t abandoned anything or anybody, I’m just dealing with Chaos and the Condo

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