By: Michael Frech

Most people think that only the owners of 100-year-old crumbling structures with missing mortar and spalled bricks employ New York City Building Envelope Consultants. However, our industry has recently seen an uptick in the demand for building consulting services at recently completed construction. This previously nonexistent market is rapidly becoming an industry niche.

The building boom of the mid 2000s in Brooklyn and Queens has resulted in hundreds of structures that are prematurely leaking. The façade composition of many of these structures is rarely the traditional mass masonry walls, but rather a mosaic of stucco, curtain wall windows, and precast and metal panels. Also, the designs almost always include balconies and terraces. This combination of materials and design, along with contractor inexperience, turned into a recipe for disaster. Young families purchased units in these new buildings because they were “move in ready.” For several years they attempted to work amicably with developers to repair obvious deficiencies. Eventually relationships soured and the owners, who were sick and tired of getting wet, hired consultants. The consultants then deliver the bad news that these relatively young buildings need major restoration to prevent even further damage.

The scope of the damage and the repair costs often blindside these owners. The “oohs” and “aahs” of the buyers’ initial walk through has lead to the “ouch” of restoration proposals. Since the developer’s company was often dissolved after construction was completed in these situations, or the statute of limitations has expired, they have little to no recourse. Many unit owners are faced with the dilemma of coming up with funds for a comprehensive repair.

Sullivan Engineering has been able to assist these owners by providing a clear path to restoring their buildings. The first step is providing them with a comprehensive report noting the deficiencies in the exterior envelope of the building. This report includes photos, explanations of the issues and the recommended repairs, and a budget outlining the restoration costs. To help owners work within financial constraints, we prioritize the deficiencies so the restoration can be performed in phases, while minimizing the overlap/redundancy of mobilization and scaffolding. This prioritizing and phasing allows the owners to implement a long-term plan for the restoration and maintenance of their property. It is this level of assistance that has garnered the most amount of positive feedback from our clients. Board members have stated that they felt completely lost and overwhelmed by the task of figuring out what is wrong with their building and what it would take to repair it. We have found that with some additional work during the preconstruction phase, we are able to educate the owners and help guide the projects to successful completions. Homeowners that were once in the dark regarding the condition of their buildings, are now informed on and prepared for the necessary restoration and maintenance.

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