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A long-delayed construction project blocks access to my roof deck. How can I get the work finished?

By Alanna Schubach | June 27, 2022 - 9:30AM

You may be able to pressure the managing agent to replace the contractor. 

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Question:

I own a co-op with access to a rooftop space. A construction project that was supposed to completed a year ago has been going on for over two years with no end in sight and my space can not be used. My emails and calls to the managing agent and board are largely ignored. What can I do?

Answer:

The issue may be with the contractor rather than the co-op board, our experts say, and it could help to hire an expeditor. 

"While there may not be much the homeowner can do about some of the issues here—delayed project completion, an unresponsive board—it sounds like this is an issue with a faulty contractor," says Nicole Kaes, vice president of marketing with Bolster (a Brick sponsor). 

Approach the building's managing agent again to find out if the delays are coming from the contractor and whether it may be worthwhile to replace them or to hire an expeditor to keep the construction work moving along at a steady clip, she says. 

And before hiring a contractor, owners—or co-op boards—should do some thorough vetting. 

"Making sure your contractor is licensed and insured. Checking references is a great place to start," Kaes says. "Ask for references from family, friends, and co-workers, and ask about success stories, pain points, and failures."

That said, she acknowledges that it can be challenging to gauge the health of a contractor's business, which can suffer through no fault of their own—say, if a client fails to pay their bills on time. This could certainly be the source of the hold-up. 

Another possibility is that a major, unexpected structural issue came up, or that supply chain woes are slowing down the project. 

"It could be that they found a roof defect and need to repair it, or that supplies are back ordered," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "If it is a legitimate issue, there is not much to be done. If it is caused by delays for a silly reason, then you can gather other shareholders who want the roof deck and create a petition." 

Involving other shareholders in the matter can help spur the managing agent or board to be more responsive. You could even look into whether it is management, rather than the contractor, that needs to be replaced.

"We have seen managing agents getting replaced precisely due to issues of this sort," Kaes says. "If there is no response, the building residents need to figure out whether it is worth replacing them too." 


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