December 17, 2008
Meeting with Attorneys from hellmuth & Johnson
Board members in attendance: Dick Merrill and Mark Haywood
Meeting began at 7:05 pm
Rob Keena, esq. & Kathleen Loucks esq. of Hellmuth & Johnson were introduced by Cindy Pederson of Cedar Management.
Rob began presentation regarding statute of limitations regarding builder liability
He explained the years available to either individual vs associations
Dick Merrill confirmed that the association is responsible for stucco and exterior elevations
Dr. Harvey wants to have attorneys look at our by-laws
Kathleen explained that sub-contractors of the general contractor (Gorham) have installed the windows incorrectly and also may have stucco defects due to incorrect thickness when it was applied originally. The Zachau home was inspected and the inspection confirmed this. Also, several homeowners said they had windows that leaked.
Rob also gave a quick biography of both of their experience including noting that they were also defense lawyers originally.
Attorneys explained how the insurance company decides to defend their client. The insurance company through their attorneys wait for the engineering and testing to be done and hen make a personal visit to the home or homes that are defective and begin to pick away at the findings. Rob advised most carriers try and selectively pick certain defects and try and blame them sometimes on the homeowner. Example would be having the humidity set to high in the house or not having their air exchange set correctly.
Various owners said they had window leaks-atty explained that is how the insurance company decides limitations for their defence
Orv asked about arbitration. Individual owners vs. association right of actions including lawsuits and potential court case. Rob explained the benefits of an association action vs. an individual lawsuit.
Rob asked how many homes have been tested? Three homeowners confirmed they have had testing. Rob then explained how the tests are conducted via electrical probe and engineering testing including inspections.
Kathleen explain that the home she inspected are improperly stuco’d that she had personally inspected.
Rob explained discoloration under windows in length with possible reasons.
Jim Ysseldyke asked Rob “what is the problem”? Rob advised it most likely is improper window installation!
Rob said all owners should disclose possible defects if they sell their homes if the homes are not repaired.
Rob also advised not to re-stucco but use a different finish product. He suggested hardyboard.
Rob gave us “free advice” that everyone who has not been tested should be.
Rob advised bring the claims now and have all the homes tested in April ‘09
Kathleen explained the engineering program and what the procedure would be if defects are found and remedies etc.. The attorney then goes ahead and starts procedures to remedy the defects. They explained they begin by getting several bids from qualified contractors who specialize in this business. They also start negotiations with the insurance carriers to bring the matter to a positive conclusion for the homeowners based on what needs to be fixed etc. Depending upon number of houses that are defected then decision made with regards to siding of the repaired homes stucco vs. board. Without other homes being tested it is impossible to determine if enough funds would be available to change the exteriors. This would be done once we have an exact number of homes that need repairs if any?
Ysseldyke wanted to discuss costs individual vs association
Rob advised total costs would be cheaper via association $2000 vs $20000 individually
The association via assessment pays all costs from the association
Rob advised claims should be made now and have testing done in the Spring ‘09
Ysseldyke had his home inspected 12/08/08 and Rob advised that is a pretty dry time and advised him to have his home tested again
Orv Braaten asked if any one in the association would NOT want to go forward? No one raised their hand in attendance
Cindy asked if there were any more questions of the attorneys. If not they will leave and the association members in attendance can begin discussing options. A couple of more questions were answered. Kathleen has offered booklets and business cards to each attendee.
Rob advised that both state and local building inspectors are exempt from lawsuits
The attorneys left @ 8:20 pm
Owners in attendance discussed general questions
Dick Merrill is explaining how to assess for the legal fees, testing, etc.
Cindy stated that the best way to handle the appointment of the lawyers is to send out a questionnaire via mail asking homeowners to vote on how to proceed?.
General questions regarding costs for inspections, engineering & legal fees.
4 homes have been tested and found to be defective Miller, Zachau and Ysseldyke and Merrill.