Water Loss in Commercial Property Leaves Not a Moment to Spare
Rock Real Estate is a large commercial real estate broker and property management group in south-central Pennsylvania. One property that it manages in downtown York City is a wonderfully refurbished factory that is now home to several commercial tenants. History is blended into contemporary architecture, as the original brick walls and beams are harmonized with the drop ceilings and carpets of a modern day office.
On the evening of May 29, 2014, the commercial facility was thrown for a loop after a toilet sprung a significant leak. The leak occurred in the worst possible place in the building - the top floor. To make matters even more challenging, the area of loss was positioned between the elevator and a staircase, creating several safety hazards. Additionally, the entrance of each business was also saturated, making the loss highly visible to customers. To add to the already complicated situation, the employees were scheduled to begin their workday in just six hours from when central Pennsylvania-based Compleat Restorations arrived on the scene to perform emergency services. There was not a moment to spare.
Crews began working right away to secure the affected areas and begin remediation. They soon learned that the elevator was out of commission due to the water and that the staircase was the only other means for employees and customers to move from floor to floor in the building. As the workday began, Compleat employees prepared themselves to assist the office employees in getting to their work areas, as well as to hold regular mini meetings to update workers on the status of the project.
However, the biggest surprise of all was yet to come.
Two of the commercial space’s four floors were occupied by an engineering firm and a finance company. The other two floors housed a branch of a healthcare system with unique requirements and needs. The project suddenly transformed from a standard commercial water loss to a health facility water loss. This meant that containment had to be set up immediately while working under the protocol of the parent health care system. Compleat Restorations now had five customers instead of one in a property owner, a management company and three tenants. With many parties involved, communication and collaboration would be paramount for success.
The first step was to create a plan to share the common staircase, work areas and parking lot that would be the least disruptive for each business. The next step was to bring in an industrial hygienist to ensure that we followed every possible step to ensure that the loss was handled to the satisfaction of the healthcare system. Also, when the water entered the mechanical system of the elevator, the strong-smelling oils and hydraulic fluids that contaminated it and had to be removed accordingly.
The emergency crew began to open the walls to the lowest possible height to balance the fastest rate of drying while creating the least amount of repair work in the future. Furthermore, crews did not want to damage any of the historic parts of the building, as it would be difficult to replace. The resulting debris had to be removed swiftly as to not tie up the stairway and common work area. The next challenge came after crews began opening up the walls. There were two layers of drywall on top of plaster.
The building was historic, which meant that there was a strong possibility that the plaster contained asbestos. Demolition on certain walls had to be halted until this was verified. Samples were immediately taken and rushed to a testing facility. In less than 24 hours, the test came back negative and we were allowed to proceed with the emergency services.
Now that the drying was complete, Compleat Restorations professionals were ready to move forward with our next step in repairs. What would have been a simple drywall, carpet and ceiling replacement became a complicated scheduling issue. The tenants requested that the repair work occur outside of their operating hours as to not disrupt their workflow. This meant that crews had to be flexible to work on evenings and weekends until the job was finished. In the end, Compleat Restorations successfully made all involved parties whole again with no evidence that a loss ever occurred.
Effective restoration companies must be flexible and level headed every minute of the day because each loss has its own unique challenges. No two commercial buildings are the same and, as we all know, you cannot always see what is behind the wall. Losses of this nature serve as a strong reminder that we must always listen to the customer, and in some cases, several customers at once. Had we not taken the time to speak with each business and learn about their specific needs, the project could have quickly unwound. We are proud that none of the businesses lost a single day of work, no one’s safety was risked, and no secondary damage occurred. In our company we are taught to always meet the client’s need - not just the need we perceive. This philosophy has never failed us.