Snow, ice, freezing, thawing, refreezing all take such a toll on New England properties that it’s practically a cliché—but it’s a cliché that condo trustees and managers have to deal with every spring.
Paul Carraccio is president of TPW Management in Burlington, Vermont. His clients include ski resort townhome villages where owners are mostly seasonal residents. “All the impacts from snow and ice building up mean we always have to check for roof damage and leaks,” he says, adding that ice is such an issue in northern New England “there are no rain gutters on these buildings” and roofs are often metal and steeply pitched.
With all this roof runoff, controlling stormwater and snowmelt on the ground becomes the other major challenge. Newer buildings incorporate foundation and perimeter drains, “but you have to hope they were correctly designed and installed,” says Carraccio. “These designs should work if they were done right… even with new construction, there’s no guarantee.”
And then there are the weather wild cards. “We had some real damage after Hurricane Irene [in August, 2011],” at several Vermont ski area properties, he points out. “Wherever there was a concentration of water flow, that’s where it really got hammered, especially in the valleys.” In more typical years, he and his staff take an inventory of winter damage in early spring. “We first evaluate the buildings and grounds, then we enlist the help of engineers or contractors—such as excavators—for site work.”
In ski country, he notes, townhouse complexes at higher elevations “can get more intensive snow deposits… We look for roof problems and places where snow may have been packed against walls.” Also, the outside-mounted vents for appliances, heaters and sewer pipes are especially vulnerable to the worst damages of weather. “We have to check the dryer and exhaust vents, and make sure they are not blocked or broken,” states Carraccio.