Housing Complex

Condo Horror Story: Water-Damaged Walls Ripped Out Four Times in First Year


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Wilson House, 1215 10th Street

When Amber McDonald bought her condo at the Wilson House in Shaw, she was excited to pick out the flooring and make other choices only afforded to those who bought their units before completion.

But in the end, the fun details haven’t mattered as much as the most basic element of her purchase: the walls.

In the 16 months since she has owned her unit, plaster has been ripped out and replaced on four occasions and the developers, she says, still have not addressed the structural problems that caused the damage in the first place.

“It got so bad in my second bedroom that I could literally push my finger into the plaster and it would sink into the wall,” she says.

Water leaks, McDonald believes, originate from damage in the exterior walls of her top floor, two-bedroom unit at 10th and N Streets NW.

MED Developers, which rehabbed the early-1900s, eight-unit building, also promised to finish still-incomplete renovations in the halls, stairways, and foyer, according to other tenants.

Photos forward by Amber McDonald

“When the [economic] crisis hit, they began to pretend like they had never said this at all, and we would be stuck with a nearly century-old entryway badly in need of renovation and with leaky walls,” says top-floor resident Paul, who would not allow his last name to be printed.

An e-mail and several phone calls to MED Developers were not returned.
MED is currently selling units in small condominium buildings on Capitol Hill, in Deanwood, and in the H Street area/Gallaudet University area, according to its Web site.
Most of the units at Wilson House, all two-bedrooms, have sold in the upper $300,000s and lower $400,000s. With six units occupied and the developers’ warranty nearing its end, McDonald and several other residents have hired a lawyer.

So far, they’ve been stonewalled.

In late March, the lawyer, Jason Pardo, sent a letter detailing the building’s problems to Mark Mitek of the firm Kass, Mitek & Kass PLLC, which represents MED.
Mitek’s forwarded response, presented a month and a half after the initial letter, offered little hope the developers were going to do the work.

“You state that there [have] been water leaks to the building caused by mortar and brick issues,” it read. “However, you do not state why you believe the matter is a developer issue.” Regarding roof damage, Mitek writes: “Why is this a developer’s problem?”
Mitek also did not respond to messages and an e-mail.

McDonald’s downstairs neighbor, Stryk Thomas, is the condo board’s treasurer. He reported his unit has been relatively drama-free, as did another downstairs neighbor, but offered to get involved with the lawyer anyway. “These water-damage issues affect the structure of the whole building,” he says.

The residents’ next step is to get a detailed list of problems from an engineer they’ve hired.

“We were hoping that a letter from a lawyer would show that we’re serious,” says Thomas. “I’m still very much hoping to settle this outside of any court situation.”

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