Q: I recently read a response you wrote to a reader about her building shaking when big trucks go by. I have a similar issue.
I live in condominium building in Chicago and there is a dip in the street in front of our building. Apparently, they did not pour the concrete correctly when they dug up the road to connect our plumbing to the city lines. As a result, the road sinks in and is badly damaged. I have tried to get the city to come out to fix this for the 3 years that I have lived in the building, but have been unsuccessful.
I can’t imagine that I will ever be able to sell the place when people are walking through during the open house and small earthquakes are erupting every few minutes. I am not sure where I can turn. If you have any suggestions I would certainly appreciate it.
A: It’s interesting that your problem with the road might have been caused by your own building’s construction. When your building was put up, was your builder or developer responsible for that work?
Depending on when that work was done, your building might have recourse against the contractor that initially did the work. However, if the work was done years ago, it may be up to you and the other owners to decide whether your building can do the repair and take care of the issue.
While you might think or want the city to be responsible for that repair – and they might – there are times that it might be easier to handle the issue yourself, if possible and if it is not out of your price range. You might still try to see if the different departments in your city are willing to look at your problem and take some action to repair it. But they could end up making a determination that your building caused the property, they could then fix the issue and bill your building for the road repair. (That would likely be far more expensive than if you undertake to fix the issue yourself.)
You might need to find someone with the expertise to come look at your issue and give you an outsider’s point of view as to what might need to be done. If the dip in the road needs a road patch or other minor repair, the issue could be taken care of over the short term easily. If there is no real way to fix the problem without tearing up a large portion of the street, fixing the road bed and then repaving, you might be in for an expensive repair.
This outside expert – and it could be a paving company, or a structural engineer – could come up with some other options. They might also give you valuable information you can take back to the city to argue your case.
For example, the expert might tell you that the road is having issues due issues unrelated to your building. You might have had recent heavy truck activity on your street and weather issues that have caused the problem. If the road bed is suffering from stress due to other issues, you and your neighbors can all get together and try to encourage the department responsible for the roads in your area to look at it again and consider it for repaving in the near future. Other problems with the road could also force that department to reconsider and, perhaps, decide to put your street on an earlier timetable for rebuilding or repaving.
If there is an identifiable fix, but the city won’t make any repairs to your street for years to come, you and your neighbors should meet to figure out if enough owners are willing to foot the bill. If you do decide to do it yourselves, you might still need to work with the city to make sure they allow you to handle the work. Good luck with selling your condo.