Apr. 13 Town Hall Meeting Notes

Town Hall Meeting
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:30-11am, UCSB Building 594
Notes by Harold Marcuse

31 homeowners representing about 24 homes met with Bart Mendel and Bob Landegger from Stonemark.
Maggie (905) and Michael Berry (921) are new residents who introduced themselves.

Bart began the meeting at 9:37. He requested that questions be held to the end, since he hopes his presentation will cover most issues.
[There are 9 Stonemark points and 20 owner questions, numbered for convenience.]

  1. Big picture summary: We all want a quality product that will last for many years. Owners all want to know when the project will be in, and out, of their unit. However, there are constraints of cost and residency that constrain the ideal solutions. The best project possible under these terms is being implemented. Each step is vetted by the manufacturers, leak forensic expert, and UCSB to ensure quality control. Whenever a detail is found that does not meet the standards/specification, it is done over before the project moves forward.
    One main contractor doesn’t want to move forward until they can ensure that it is done right when unexpected situations are encountered. Bart respects that, BUT it isn’t fair to owners to have their homes boarded up during delays while details are worked out.
  2. Main reason for delay: Door manufacturer Plastpro met all quality specs and promised a 3-week delivery time, but that turns out to apply only to the deck doors, not the 2′ wide doors that make up 90% of the doors for this project.
  3. Scheduling. Because of that and other details to be worked out for the first time, Stonemark has not wanted to update the schedule until now. The way it looks now (and it may change…): Cluster 1 (910s) will be done mid-May, cluster 2 (900s) in mid-June, cluster 3 (920s) in mid-July.
    This is about 2 months behind original schedule. [3.5 months behind for cluster 1]
    The whole Project end date in November, however, may still be possible, since work can proceed more quickly once all wrinkles have been worked out.
  4. Quality control procedures. Biggest issue is the entry courtyard floor, since those were built too low. Many possible solutions were explored (e.g. putting in channel drains, or a new underground storm drain system–which would have been insanely expensive). The final one was to build in a dam around the perimeter, made out of flashing and Tufflex (the stuff that smells so bad). Redundancy in waterproofing layers is one key to success. Extra vigilance in this installation ensures proper quality control. 
  5. Stucco. The decision to use the more expensive Eisenwall product was made because it can be applied all at once, instead of in layers, each of which requires drying time. This shortens the overall duration of the project.
    Question of Sto coating blocking the weep screeds at the bottom of the walls: all experts agree this is not an issue. Clarification later: Sto IS waterproof, BUT vapor permeable.
    Bonding agent IS being installed between old and new layers of stucco.
    Sto warranty: it does not warrant the substrate, but they did inspect to approve the substrate as sufficient for application of their product. Sto waterproofing in lieu of complete replacement of stucco was a necessary compromise given the cost constraints of the project.
    Q: is installation of Eisenwall dependent on ambient humidity? No.
  6. Window hardware: The windows are flush on the inside so as to allow for recreating the match-existing exterior recess around the frame. However the awning window operating hardware extends into the room. There are both manufacturer supplied alternate and after-market (propeller-type) handles that protrude less than the manufacturer’s crank-type stock handles (to be paid for either by homeowners or by the project. This is one of many things competing for contingency funds.
  7. Attic ventilation. Some owners have installed fans that exhaust through the round louvers. These louvers are being removed in the project, replaced by O’Hagin vents that are integrated into the roof tiles, which provide overall more ventilation than existing conditions, for one reason toallow for cross ventilation, since there will be multiple O’Hagin vents in each attic space. Being higher up in the roof is an advantage as well.
    There are also some bathroom fans that vent into the attic space (but not to the exterior). This is not a Project/Association issue, but each homeowner with this condition should take care of it before the Project gets to their unit. The Project can provide a spec or narrative for a handyman to use in installing an exhaust portal in the vertical exterior wall. [see also question 15 below]
  8. Assistance in moving furniture. This is billed by the hour, so the Project and Association ask that owners use this service judiciously to conserve contingency funds for the many other uses (like termite tenting) desired.
  9. Assembly line procedure is designed for the effectiveness of the contractors, not for individual owners. Stonemark understands that this is an imposition. On the other hand the project is only possible due to the cost savings this procedure allows. The fact that contractors tend to show up unannounced to do unexpected work is due to having to divert labor to other tasks when site conditions change; we expect this to improve over time.

10:12: Q & A.

  1. Damage caused during roof drain testing (interior). A: anywhere there is existing water damage to plywood or framing, the Project replaces it. Pre-existing interior water damage is NOT part of the project (except possibly if contingency funds are available at the end).
    The project is fixing damage at penetrations and transitions, but not in the surface of the walls. Thus some leak e.g. due to paper failure might be missed. However if there is serious damage to framing that the project does not uncover, it should be obvious already (e.g. termites that have nested in damp wood).
  2. 2.      Gap between downspout roof drain and pipe. This was an unexpected original construction defect–they were not connected to each other. The 917/918 solution of exterior drains is not a good one, since it creates new stucco penetrations (and is aesthetically displeasing).
    The pre-demolition testing protocol has been modified so as to avoid interior damage from this gap (not filling drain pipes quite so full); the post-repair final test goes up to the roof level however. This final test should have been done during the original construction to pass code.
    Leaf blockage? The testing found hardened tar in some pipes that had been there since original construction. The Association knows of this problem and has regular leaf inspections and cleaning–we pay for this as part of our monthly Association fee.
    If you see water coming out of your scuppers, this is a telltale sign that a drain is blocked and needs attention.
  3. Removal of roof tiles in the 950s. This is where the roofing part of the project stopped to wait for the rest of the project to catch up. A: The original scheduling concept foresaw that the roof work would be completed in 6 months. However, it turns out that there is too much integration with the stucco/flashing work for this to be expedient. Also, the unanticipated delays in the main work made the gap between the two timelines greater and greater. The underlayment manufacturer has said, and again verified, that the paper can be exposed for at least six months, probably longer. They will inspect again before the tile work continues. This “Titanium 50” underlayment is the primary waterproofing layer. It is warrantied for 50 years. The earlier product (Titanium 30) is warrantied for 30 years, and it has a 6-month exposure window (that is where the time originally came from).
    Exposure damage can result from UV rays (whereby this product resists this), and foot traffic. It will be inspected for such damage before the tiles are installed. It will be replaced if necessary.
    Clarification later Titanium 50-year-warranty: Does it apply also if animals have been on those roofs? The warranty is indeed for this project specifically, not a generic/theoretical one.
  4. Stucco joints: Should there be metal flashing under the 90-degree corners of the walls? A: Where the parapet meets the wall, or the roof meets the wall, or the deck meets the wall, new flashing is being installed. There are some areas of vertical to horizontal connection where the walls are not being opened up (e.g. the courtyard entrance wall), and no flashing is being installed. No leaks were found there.
  5. Schedule synchronization: Yes, the Project is working to improve this. The reason for revising the sequencing is NOT because of the 6-month exposure issue, but for better integration of trades.
  6. Can there be a regular (weekly) update to a publicly published schedule (like a weather report)? Owners understand that things change and that this would not be binding. This would help stop rumors and other owners who are not in the loop from imagining the worst. In the end it would save time.
    Bart agrees that communications can be improved. They are working on this and will have the assembly line worked out … soon! Stonemark commits to doing that for each cluster. They want to give us owners the information we want and need, but they don’t want to distract Bob from doing his job, which is the first priority.
    Gail asks that owners NOT send their issues to the wcp community list immediately, but ask Gail/the Board/Stonemark first, and wait for clarification. Example of Paul Spickard’s email. This was ultimately clarified quite simply, but it caused hours of response time for Gail and others.
  7. When should owners take care of various things that interface with the project? For example, the exhaust for the bathroom fans, or repairs under/inside the bathroom skylights. Would a checklist be possible?
    Bart: metal window replacements and bathroom exhaust fans (both of which penetrate the stucco) should be done before, other things after the project. But yes, Stonemark should and will come up with a list.
    Example: if someone wants to replace ALL entry courtyard floor tiles. They should tell Bob, and the project will not replace the perimeter tiles.
    Example: if an owner plans to put tiles on the smaller “back” patios. Do NOT do this before the project comes, BUT let Bob know, and they will leave more clearance under the weep screeds/downspout exits.
  8. Termites. The project is putting in new wood, and some units have known problems (the worst one has 13 places of infestation). It is important that tenting happen. A: it should be done soon once construction is complete. Whether the project does it depends on available funds. Damage to new wood until tenting happens will not be so great as to cause structural problems.
  9. Leaks into homes during the construction–three of the units under construction have had this problem. A: This was due to failures during heavy rains. These were identified, rectified, and insurance claims filed. Will this happen again? It hasn’t happened in 2 months, so we hope it has been rectified. Two permanent roof drain problems (due to manufacturer issue) were found out and rectified, so the remaining ca. 500 roof drains in the project should not have this problem.
  10. Sarnafil warranty: Does it cover roofs that have foot traffic? We have a 20 year NDL (no dollar limit) warranty (single family homes only get a 10-year). Sarnafil must respond but typically calls the installing roofer to fix. And the roofer has a warranty as well. Sarnafil does not warrant if there is a lack of maintenance, so they know there must be foot traffic in order to maintain the roof drains.
  11. Tower drainage. It comes down onto the lower roof via a scupper–in this case of the high tower only, however, it is primary. A splash block where the water hits is being installed. The purpose of this change is to reduce the amount of water draining into the entry courtyards.
  12. Stucco color. Dark rose color has not been finalized yet. They’ve found a discrepancy when small samples are prepared vs. large samples. Five people (3 Board, 2 others) responded to the call to help in this decision. The small changes can result in big differences when applied. The mustardy color in the first cluster will be replaced by the ochre color that has been chosen.
  13. Is it possible to place the O’Hagin vents in less visible locations? No, ventilation requires that they be placed in these locations. They come in limited colors, and a special finish would not be within budget. If there are two on the parapet roof, could they be placed on the less visible sides? These roofs are not symmetrical. A: The architect is currently reviewing this, and must approve it first.
  14. Some walls are not anchored to the concrete. Indeed, some small walls are supported by posts that are dry-rotted. Bob: these have been identified and are remedied as part of the project. A cement footing is made.
  15. How can owners know whether they have a bathroom vent exhaust problem? The project will try to give owners a procedure to find out.
    What kind of covers will be used? Project will suggest a metal vent design similar to a dryer vent instead of the plastic hoods that come with such vents. Metal can be painted to match the walls as well.
    Easy test: turn on shower till vapor accumulates, turn on fan and look into attic space to see whether damp air is venting to interior or exterior.
  16. What about damage to subflooring due to a leaking master bedroom window? Damage is worst at the point of water intrusion. The project will “chase” damage as far as it goes. But if the project is not replacing this window, will it be fixed? If Matt van Dyck is doing the window, he is obligated to chase the damage as well.
  17. What about smells from the Tufflex? Owners with allergies/asthma want to move out during this installation. A: it will be installed in three different locations at three different times (upstairs deck, entry courtyard perimeter, back patios), and two different layers of Tufflex are applied at each, which need to cure between applications. The smell lasts for about 24 hours. Some owners have been very bothered by it, others haven’t even noticed. Using a fan and open windows strategically can mitigate the problem.
  18. How much protection do items in the attics need? Covering with a sheet of plastic is advisable if you are worried. In the living rooms the contractors protect only things within a 3′ radius. HOWEVER: there will be dust etc. going into the rest of those rooms, so DO COVER UP FURNISHINGS and carpet, etc. Things can fall off shelves or mantelpieces due to vibrations from roof work, so beware and please remove/secure them.
  19. What happens when the 12 year Sto warranty runs out? A: Its lifetime is longer, much longer, as it is a cementitious product. Caulking etc. will be inspected annually at the outset. At some point it will need to be replaced/recoated of course.
  20. How precise is the 2.5 months from start of work to application of color coat? A: that is a projection. It doesn’t mean that some tasks won’t start earlier or take longer. The goal is to keep the major intrusion to the shortest time possible.
    If owners need to go away, that is fine. Just be sure to leave a key with someone for times when interior access is necessary.

11:34: Bob wrapped up the meeting, emphasizing that he is available to answer owner questions. Email is best for non-urgent things, with a cc to Jacklyn, who can help manage answers.

Rounds of applause were given to thank the many volunteers who devoted so much time to the project, in particular Gail and the Board, as well as the residents of Cluster 1 (910s), who have suffered much as the “guinea pigs” of the project, in particular Bob and Phill, who have been no. 1 of no. 1.

The meeting ended at 11:37am.

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About hmarcuse

I've been an environmentalist since my college days in the 1970s (May 1977 Seabrook, New Hampshire occupation) , and am now a professor of German history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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5 Responses to Apr. 13 Town Hall Meeting Notes

  1. Harry Nelson says:

    Concerning: “Question of Sto coating blocking the weep screeds at the bottom of the walls: all experts agree this is not an issue. Clarification later: Sto IS waterproof, BUT vapor permeable.”

    Here is an expert who disagrees:

    http://www.metallathinfo.com/newsletter1203.htm

    All experts up to 2011 involved in the WCP LRP agreed with the information contained in the above link; at least one expert from our consultant currently still agrees.

    As to the vapor permeability of Sto: can the actual number that quantifies the vapor permeability (in perms or in metric units) of the stuff currently being applied please be provided by Stonemark or Sto? When *added* to the low permeability elastomeric that was once put on our houses, and which is *not* being sandblasted off, the total combined layers may not be very permeable.

    However, no consultant has ever provided us with a range of acceptable quantitative vapor permeability, particularly with careful consideration of the foggy, humid (although cool) climate we have. We do get lots of smiling and handwaving, but no hard core engineering specifications.

    Providing hard core numerical specifications is what makes a true expert, not glad handing and smiling.

    BTW, I have clear damage in my unit from the dampness accumulation at the wall bottoms, where weep screeds are absent/blocked.

  2. Mark Sherwin says:

    With respect to the weep screed and Sto, some details of the discussion were left out of Harold’s remarkably thorough minutes. Bart said that very little water would be flowing inside the stucco walls because the Sto is waterproof and enveloping the entire building. He also did not say in the meeting that “all experts agree . . .” but that all elements of the team that is working on the LRP agree that after all the improvements are completed, the weep screeds will weep enough to handle the small amount of moisture that will be making it inside the stucco walls.

  3. Harry Nelson says:

    A recurring comment in all stucco repair discussions is: it is impossible to keep moisture out of stucco walls. We’ve been through a `magical surface’ fix already… we were told that our elastomeric paint (10 and 20 years ago, twice, actually) would do the same thing that Bart is saying now, and the elastomeric failed. Fooled us once… shame on the experts. Fooling us twice… shame on us.

    There must be an exit path for the moisture that can and will get into our stucco walls. The principle path is the weep screed (that is why it is called a weep screed, not just a screed). If their gap is covered by the Sto Flexyl, as the current Sto installations in the 900’s and 910’s have done, they will not weep, and we might well continue to have the problems I experienced in my unit, and the mold/mushroom problems others have experienced. I certainly prefer to get rid of the dampness, mold, and rot in my unit.

    If Bart is confident, he’d offer a warranty and guarantee, with 100% repair and cost recovery. Is that what he is doing? Can I get a copy of his warranty and guarantee?

    Additionally, there is no answer on what numerical vapor permeability is acceptable for our climate and system. I’ve been asking that for at least 9 months… never an answer. Experts would easily answer that question.

  4. If we continue to have rot and mold after this project, I’ll be one to add some weep to the screeds …

  5. Harry Nelson says:

    The weeper is that we do the same thing over and over again but expect different results…. somehow Bart/vds/ etc can’t come up with an engineering specification for vapor permeability (in perms or other units) that is acceptable for our climate; that would settle this issue.

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