Updated: June 29 at 12:30 p.m.
WILDWOOD — Instead of experiencing a sunset view from their first and second story decks, Bob Bostock and his fellow condominium owners at 322 Juniper Avenue are watch-ing their decks collapse.
Bostock is president of the condo association that represents four units on Juniper Avenue. He claimed the beams supporting all four decks have decayed due to faulty workmanship, and an inspection in May 27 by the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) backed up his theory.
“The inspection revealed a major structural defect,” stated Walid Jawawdeh, claims analyst for DCA.
The builder of the property had until June 30 to submit to Bostock and his fellow owners copies of the certified design and construction documents to fix the problem under the New Home Warranty Program. The contractor has until July 15 to garner the necessary permits and he has a deadline of July 30 to complete the repairs.
Bostock said that M.W. Mitchell, Inc., the general contractor hired by the development company, would not honor his contract and fix the issues with the deck despite telling the DCA that they were “ready willing and able to correct the major structural defect.”
“He [M.W. Mitchell] told me that he doesn’t have the money or the crew to complete our project,” Bostock said. “It is unacceptable.”
Initial phone calls to M.W. Mitchell’s office was answered by receptionists that repeatedly relayed the message “things are being worked out,” and declined to comment further.
Laurence Edwards, vice president of M.W. Mitchell Inc., called the Herald to comment almost a week after the story was posted on this newspaper’s Web site and voiced concern that the company was being painted in a bad light.
He said that the company should not have been the target of the condo owners. Edwards said that Oceanus Investments holds the home warranty.
“We never had a contract with the condo association. Their real beef should be with Oceanus,” Edwards said.
Edwards said that M.W. Mitchell was hired by Oceanus Investments, and then hired vari-ous subcontractors, one of which built the deck on 322 Juniper Avenue.
When asked if Mitchell built the deck, Edwards responded, “no.”
Edwards alleges that a company called New Look Construction was responsible for the deck and the real issue occurred with the inspector who first approved the construction on the property.
“Whoever came out and looked at the rough framing and approved it, that work was hide-ous and it was not something that should have been approved,” Edwards said. “Inferior work should be caught on inspection. And that type of work is not something that we cre-ate. We are in the process of remedy, despite what anyone says.”
However Bostock said he hasn’t heard from any builder regarding a solution. He plans to put up a banner on the building if they can’t come to a resolution.
According to the New Home Warranty Program, if the original builder doesn’t comply with the correction in the mandated time frame, a work list will be released to the home-owners to solicit estimates from contractors on that list.
“That means this problem will fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers,” Bostock said. “Shouldn’t Mitchell be held responsible for something he built incorrectly?”
Bostock bought the condo when it was new, six years ago. He first noticed something “wasn’t quite right” when his deck had a large group of mushrooms growing out of the boards in January 2006.
In April 2006 Philip Bernard, who said he was a representative of M.W. Mitchell, Inc., wrote Bostock saying that the property was inspected, the soffit was removed and no water damage or mold was detected.
Edwards said that Bernard was actually a subcontractor with New Look Construction. However Bernard used Mitchell’s letterhead and identified himself as a representative of that company.
The mushrooms were only the beginning, Bostock said. He told the Herald that the deck bowed last summer and then experienced serious structural problems this year.
Bostock investigated this problem with the building’s architect Kevin Young. Bostock said that Young believed there might have been a problem with the initial design and worked tirelessly to find a solution.
However, a closer inspection with the DCA revealed that neither the size of the header beams that support the front end of the decks, nor the method of supporting or the joist beam connections conform to Young’s plans.
The decision from the DCA reads: “The visual inspection of the decks on the first and second floors revealed the header beams supporting the front end of the two decks on the first floor had rotted to the point where it can no longer support the weight of the deck and/or the loads imposed.
The headers on the second floor have deteriorated but not to the extent of the header on the first floor, however, replacement may be necessary since neither the size of the beams or its method of support nor the joist to beam connection conform to the drawings dated Aug. 26, 2002 prepared by Kevin Young.”
Bostock said that without Young’s effort to fix a problem, the issue with the building would have never come to light.
“A lot of shortcuts were obviously taken when Mitchell built this place,” Bostock said.
“It is nonsense that we would do this deliberatively,” Edwards responded."We have put at least $9 million dollars into the local economy."
Bostock said he was also frustrated by the city’s involvement.
“And an inspector from the city’s construction office signed off on this when it was being built,” Bostock said and pointed to a plan review, subcode approval and inspections that were signed with initials “WMG” and “LB” by the former Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods inspectors.
He said that currently the city had been by the building twice. Once he said was to issue the “unsafe structure” placard and the other time was to issue parking tickets to his fellow condo owners for parking on the street blocking their driveway.
“We can’t use our garages and driveways with the state of the decks, so we parked where we could and got a ticket for it,” he said. “Just another thing I’m going to have to fight for.”