Condo owners demand repair of roofs Snowfall could cause collapse, suit says


Saying a heavy snowfall could collapse the roofs over their heads, homeowners at The Pointe condominiums in Abingdon have asked a court to order repairs.

The Pointe Condominium Council of Unit Owners, representing the homeowners, seeks a Harford Circuit Court order to force the developer, builder and engineer to repair six buildings' roofs by Nov. 1.

An Illinois architectural firm the condo owners hired to inspect the buildings concluded a heavy snowfall would collapse the roofs because of faulty trusses.

"The unit owners in those buildings and their visitors and passers-by are exposed to a serious risk of personal injury or death, and there is a risk of substantial damage," said Otto Guedelhoefer, a part owner of the architectural firm Raths, Raths & Johnson Inc. of Willowbrook, Ill.

Mr. Guedelhoefer estimated the remaining work at the six buildings would take a crew of six workers 12 days to finish, says the complaint, filed Tuesday.

The work, the architect estimated, would cost $180,000 -- money the council and its members do not have at hand, the complaint says.

But Michael J. Jack, a Baltimore attorney representing the complex's developer and builder, said the repairs cannot be done now because work crews are assigned to other projects.

He noted the repairs would have to be done in the attics of the condominiums, where the summer heat would make it difficult for the crews. But the council said that the attics could be ventilated for the workers.

The 228-unit complex, off Route 24 near the Interstate 95 interchange, was developed and built in the late 1980s by The Pointe Inc. and Henderson-Webb Inc., both of Cockeysville.

The Pointe Inc., Henderson-Webb and Skarda & Associates Inc., a Baltimore engineering firm, are named as defendants.

The firms, as well as three other companies involved in the development of the condominium complex, were named as defendants in a separate suit, filed in January by the council, seeking $115 million compensation. The suit is pending in Circuit Court.

In addition to the trusses, the January suit cites "severe problems" with walls, floors, stairs, balconies, windows and doors at the condominiums.

After the council filed the suit, The Pointe Inc., Henderson-Webb and Skarda stopped repairs of roof trusses at the complex, the condo owners said in last week's complaint. Trusses in all but six of the 19 buildings at the complex were repaired before the suit was filed.

"[The defendants] have admitted that the trusses are defective and must be repaired," the complaint says. "The only issues, therefore, are when the defendants re-commence the repairs and when those repairs will be completed."

Since the suit was filed, the homeowners claim, they have failed in their efforts to get the defendants to finish the repairs.

In a letter to the council filed with the complaint, representatives of The Pointe Inc. and Henderson-Webb said they "will review the feasibility of resuming the [repair] work based on, among other things, the availability of the necessary work crews and the overall status of the litigation."

The condo owners' complaint says that the letter "is not a commitment to repair; it is instead a veiled threat to use the repairs as leverage in the [litigation], a reprehensible tactic which cannot be countenanced with life-safety at issue."

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