Abingdon condo owners reach settlement over design defects

March 06, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Owners of more than 200 Abingdon condominium units will share in a $2.6 million settlement to fix leaks, buckling floors, drafty windows, peeling paint and other problems that became apparent in 1989 shortly after construction of the condos had been completed.

The agreement was reached Feb. 24 with 14 defendants, who were responsible for the development, design and construction of The Pointe Condominium.

The defendants included The Pointe Inc., a subsidiary of Henderson-Webb Inc., a Cockeysville developer; Menefee and Associates LTD, a Baltimore architect; Skarda and Associates, a Baltimore structural engineering firm; Gabco Masonry Inc. of southern Pennsylvania; and other trade contractors.

James E. Edwards Jr., a Baltimore attorney representing The Pointe Condominium Council of Unit Owners, said he believed the settlement, which was announced Monday, was one of the largest monetary awards in a civil case ever settled in Harford Circuit Court.

Mr. Edwards said the Council of Unit Owners can now work with their consultants to decide the most effective way to make repairs.

The Pointe is a residential development in the community of Constant Friendship off Route 24 near Interstate 95.

The complex includes 19 buildings and 228 units.

The two-bedroom brick units with optional den and ample parking attracted retirees and younger couples when The Pointe Inc. began developing and marketing the complex in 1988.

Most owners, who paid about $75,000 for their units, soon discovered problems created by defects in the design and construction of the condominiums.

An independent engineering firm, hired by the condominium owners, also warned residents that structural design flaws, inferior material and shoddy workmanship could cause the roof trusses to collapse under the weight of a heavy snow.

The developer supervised repairs in 13 of the 19 buildings before stopping work because the condominium owners were suing for other repair work.

Mr. Edwards said the condominium owners won a $200,000 settlement in November 1992 to complete emergency repairs to the roof trusses.

"That work is all done except for finishing up in one building," Mr. Edwards said Friday.

Baltimore attorney Michael Jack, who represented the 14 defendants, said his clients are pleased with the settlement.

Since state laws mandate that sellers disclose all structural defects and pending litigation when selling a unit, owners were unable to sell their condominiums.

"Owners also ran into difficulty trying to refinance because of the cloud of litigation," Mr. Edwards said.

Given the positive result of this week's settlement and the repairs already made to the roof trusses, past problems selling condo units will change very rapidly, he predicted.

"The Pointe is one of those very special cases in which lawyers can help people with real-life problems who are very appreciative when their needs are taken care of," Mr. Edwards said.

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