Grout expectations at condos
With the legal dust settled, the construction dust is welcome now that work is under way to stop foundation settling at the Terraces condominiums in Glenwood Springs.Crews have begun a bottoms-up repair of the condominiums after their owners received a lawsuit settlement of nearly $12 million in April.”We’re pretty excited about it,” said Greg Hall, a Terraces resident who served as the local attorney for the condo homeowners association in its lawsuit. Altogether, the development has 104 condos and 12 buildings. The initial focus of the project is to put all the buildings on a more solid foundational footing. Hayward Baker, a Broomfield company specializing in compaction grouting, is drilling holes and injecting grout underneath building 1, and releveling it.Assuming all goes right with the first building, crews also will inject the grout columns under the 11 remaining buildings before winter sets in, Hall said.Ron Schuman is branch manager for Reconstruction Experts Inc., of Breckenridge, the general contractor on the project. He said Unit 1 already is beginning to rise because of the grouting, and he’s “very optimistic” the technique will stabilize the condos.
Crews are drilling below the existing footings and then pumping grout. The grout will reach down to load-bearing underground formations and also expand horizontally, providing more stability.Once each building has a solid footing, crews can jack up and level those that remain askew.Hall said the repairs have been a long time in coming. After discussions failed, the homeowners association sued developer Jay Harkins, construction companies and engineers two years ago because of the settling. The settling caused cracks, uneven door frames and other problems in some buildings, and kept others from being occupied. The city never allowed occupancy of one building, and a bank foreclosed on 24 condos.Hall said the settling occurred because the foundation footers rested only on fill. In addition, the soil in that area compacts when wet, and poor grading and drainage contributed to the settling. The condos are built into the hillside of Red Mountain.The homeowners association and defendants settled the case in the middle of a trial, with the developer having to pay the most money. Hall said the figure was arrived at based on what plaintiffs thought they would need to fix the condos, while also covering expenses such as attorney fees associated with the case. For the trial, the homeowners association hired Scott Sullan, a Greenwood Village attorney who has represented thousands of homeowners in lawsuits against builders.Hall said the association has a rough budget of about $7.5 million, and will use it on a sequential basis, proceeding from the most important repairs to the most minor.
That means it will work on fixing roof trusses next, and then go on to things such as decks, grading and drainage, and lastly cracks and other more cosmetic repairs. Work will continue for possibly a year.Not all 12 buildings have been equally affected by settling, but the foundational fix will be the same for all of them, to eliminate the threat of further problems, Hall said.Hall said about 95 percent of the damages at the condos were to commonly owned structures, and it’s hard to project whether money might be left over to address individual costs. Besides visible damage, individuals also suffered from inconvenience and annoyance, loss of rent and inability to sell. No units have been sold since January 2003, Hall said.One of the best ways to provide relief to individual condo owners is to fix the underlying problem and remove the stigma now associated with the development, Hall believes.Residents can remain in their homes while the foundation work takes place. Hall said some of the work is occurring in garages, which requires removing cars during the day. Crews also will help move items stored in garages.Hall said the problems at the condos haven’t been too trying for him as a resident, but he has felt bad for others. Yet he also admires them.
“The residents have been remarkable, both the owners and the renters, in terms of their patience,” he said.Hall also is glad the association was able to file its lawsuit before new legislation was passed in 2003 to put limits on compensation for losses in construction defect cases. It would have been much harder to negotiate a settlement with the defendants in the Terraces case had the law been in effect, he said.That legislation’s sponsor was former state Rep. Gregg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, who is in the contracting business. Hall said Rippy’s action, as a local lawmaker in his line of work, was disappointing to Terraces residents.”But obviously that came from a unique perspective, as plaintiffs in a case,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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