Condo Group Sues Builder Over Treated Wood In Roofs

August 21, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

A Columbia condominium association is suing the property's developer, claiming defective plywood has caused several roofs to deteriorate.

The Forsgate condominium association filed suit Aug. 9 against Keough Homes of Allview Inc., seeking $384,000 to replace the wood. Thesuit claims Keough was negligent when it installed fire-retardant-treated (FRT) plywood in the town house roofs.

Managers at Keogh Homes of Allview could not be reached for comment.

The FRT plywood in the roof sheathing is designed to keep firefrom spreading, according to the suit.

Problems with FRT plywood have surfaced nationwide over the past two years, and in Howard County as many as 18,000 homes could be affected, said Steve Hannan, county consumer affairs director.

Local building codes require fireproofing safeguards in roofing materials, but county officials are considering rewriting the codes in light of problems with FRT plywood.

At Forsgate, a 113-unit town house development on Columbia Road, the condominium association hired a consulting firm in May 1990 to inspectthe complex.

The lawsuit says the consulting firm found "numerousdefects" in the FRT plywood. Signs of wood-fiber deterioration included discoloration and chemical leaching.

The consultant also foundexcessive heat and moisture buildup in the attic insulation, which can corrode the plywood, the suit says.

"By the spring of 1991, numerous roofs had begun to leak as the plywood sheathing continued to deteriorate," the lawsuit says.

"We've been told (by the consultant) that if we allow the problem to progress any further, we're asking for serious problems with the structural integrity," said Dana N. Pescosolido, a member of the condominium association's board of directors.

Repair work on the roof began several weeks ago, Pescosolido said.

According to the lawsuit, the condominium association notifiedKeogh of the roofing problems and provided the developer with a copyof the consultant's report. But Keogh has refused to acknowledge theproblems or make repairs, the suit says.

About 1 million housing units nationwide are reportedly affected by the plywood roofing problem. Most of the homes are town houses east of the Mississippi, Hannansaid.

Homeowners with FRT plywood problems have found that legal action does not necessarily get results because of disputes over whether the builder, the contractor or the plywood manufacturer should assume the liability, Hannan said.

In April, the Ellicott Ridge Professional Park filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against a Georgia wood products manufacturer, claiming that the plywood in the park's roofs wasdefective.

Some local homebuilders have conducted inspections of FRT plywood in town houses and notified residents not to walk on roofs containing the plywood.

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