Years ago, when I babysat for a young boy, I watched him create a multi-story building out of empty cardboard boxes. The lad then ran around his proud creation, flexing his muscles and crowing, “My house is indy-structible!” (He then proceeded to crash bodily through the cardboard doors, kick the walls in and lob toys at the roof. It took him a while to destroy his structure, but he enjoyed every second of it.)
Wouldn’t it be great if your condo building or townhouse was “indestructible,” too, and could withstand the relentless forces of nature and time without needing constant maintenance and costly repairs? New Jersey’s residential buildings are tougher than my babysitting charge’s cardboard castle, but they’re not indestructible. There are several factors that can cause significant wear and tear on all buildings.
Defending Your Castle
Urban buildings may appear to be solid as rocks, but it’s very important to remember that they’re not static. Once construction is completed, buildings don’t necessarily stay put.
There really isn’t anything that can be done to protect a building from the natural shifts in the earth, or its underlying long-term effects on the structure. There are, however, other enemies that can cause damage to your building’s shield. Part of any HOA’s maintenance plan should include protecting its buildings against these enemies, repairing any damage and maintaining the building exterior on a regular basis.
Neglect can lead to worsening conditions and ultimately cause a hefty dent in a building or association’s bottom line. By staying on top of building maintenance, you are actually slowing down deterioration—and hopefully saving money. It’s important to understand that what kind of damage can occur often depends on what the building is made of. “Stone, brick, metal and wood all have drastically different life spans and tolerances,” says Frederick C. Baumert, principal of Keast & Hood Co. Structural Engineers in Philadelphia, a company that has worked on Philadelphia’s historic city hall.