Complete & John Minor were pleased to be selected by the some of the smartest attorneys in the country as appraiser for Carden Beach Condominiums down in the US Virgin Islands following Hurricane Maria. Carden Beach is a special place on the northeast corner of St. Croix that had significant hurricane damage from Hurricane Maria’s Category 4 winds. The difference between the parties was an amount in the millions and included issues associated with the windows, stucco and unique painted plywood island roofs. John Minor and the staff at Complete are well suited for large loss condominium claims and this project is a great example of what we can do when cut loose on a big loss.
Our clients asked us to push this appraisal through during the peak of Covid-19 on an island that had a moving target as to allowing access from the States. We took on the task worked with the local government, got lucky, and found approval to visit the island based on a critical need. The inspections were made more exciting due to the location of the site on the side of the Virgin Island cliffs overlooking 300 feet to the rocks and ocean below. Often, I send out a picture as my View from the Office this was one of those days. It was always safe, but these are serious roofs and we maintained a healthy respect for them. The roofs were plywood coated with an elastomeric installed to drain water into cisterns for the use of the condominiums’ non-potable water needs.
Cisterns and coated roofs were just a few of the Island specific things we learned in our appraisal at Carden Beach. We also were reminded of the importance of quality property management and the difference good staff makes. We are often tasked with inspecting these properties years after the fact and sometimes it makes no sense until it does. Some adjusters, HOA members, property managers, and maintenance people just do a little more, and go the extra distance for their customers, to help us in our pursuits. It makes a difference when we receive help in the field, and this was no different. The challenge of chasing prices in the islands is only as good as the schedule of the incoming supply ships that do constant loops of the US Virgin Island. These cargo vessels unload windows in St. Thomas then lumber in St. Croix and if your order makes it in you go to work and if they do not, you make work. One pays much better and is more efficient for sure. Everything is in the island worked a little different, but we adjusted to the food, the accommodations, and the lack of transportation and really began to appreciate the island way.
The reason were were hand selected for this appraisal is that it was extremely complex with differences in the roof, stucco, windows, and interiors. The roofs as we discussed were coated plywood with scars and gashes throughout due to the 125 + MPH wind calculated by our on-staff Certified Consulting Meteorologist. We did aerial survey and then walked these rooftops in detail and used moisture meters to document the water trapped under the coating. The stucco was damaged, allowing water to intrude, and these damages had been documented by the contractor for the project with test cuts on every building. The windows that were damaged were easy to spot as several of the openings had lost their hurricane shutters in the force of the storm. One window on the west end had blown in and the unit had pressurized blowing out the sheetrock and nearly opening the building more fully to the force of Hurricane Maria’s winds.
The appraisal panel were myself and two well known engineers from the islands. I selected an umpire who was known to the opposing appraiser and respected by everyone I called, and it was a great decision. This was a superior panel of conscientious professionals whom I was thrilled to work with. Professional Engineers are a special breed and I love watching their brains work, and this process was no different. These guys were calculating wind uplift pressures off their phone calculators and calling in expertise that it takes decades to build. This was a good panel and we achieved a three-party award that the HOA was pleased with. Please feel free to email me for references and I can share the names of the appraisal panel and clients with you if you need me or one of them for your next island appraisal.
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