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Hi Robert,

We’ve got problems with the stair steps in our community. A lot of the steps are rotted as is much of the wood that holds the steps in place. One of the stairways has a step missing! Management has sealed it off with tape and boards. I don’t think it’s a good idea to seal off a stairwell than can be used as an exit in case of a fire. I know you can’t have people walking on stairs with a missing step, but the point is they should fix the step! I’ve written to the manager and the board. I did not hear from the manager, but someone on the board said that stairway is not a main exit and now is not the right time for repairs. I live here with my family and some of the other stairs around the complex are loose and wobbly. Is that a liability to us as homeowners? How do I get the board to respond and repair these areas? These are common area problems! I’m worried about somebody falling down those stairs in everyday situations, much less if there is an emergency.

William P.

Hi William,

You’re right in everything you are saying. The board has a fiduciary responsibility to especially keep the common area elements safe for homeowners and guests.

The wood that you are referring to that holds the steps in place are stringers. If they and the treads are rotted are damaged, then yes, this is a huge liability. Whether they think this is the right time or not, this is something that needs to be repaired without delay.

You’ve written letters and they are not responding. Since this is a life safety issue, I recommend you notify the Building Department. Explain that there are rotted and missing treads and rotted stringers, and that stairwells have been blocked off — they will take care of this immediately.

 Robert,

We’ve got a condo building that we’d like to put awnings over certain windows for decorator pieces. We are working with the awning company that tells us it is okay to drill through the stucco for the installation. They say that as long as they inject caulking in the holes, then we should not have leaks. I know this is what they do for a living, but is that right? Thank you,

Mike N.

Hi Mike,

You are correct. If you drill through stucco, you penetrate the felt which is your waterproofing.

The only way to properly install the awnings is to break out the stucco, install a mounting bracket, the appropriate flashing, counter flashing. Then repair the stucco and mount the awnings.

If you allow them to drill through your stucco, I guarantee you it will leak. What they are proposing is certainly cheaper and less labor intensive, but the leak repairs will cost much more than anything you save on the installation.

What will happen is water above will travel through the stucco and down the paper. When it hits the openings, it will chase the bolt inside the building. Inevitably it is going to leak.

There is a big misconception that if you drill holes in stucco and fill it with caulk, it will be waterproof, but this is absolutely untrue.

Submit questions to: robert@imsconstruction.com.

Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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