Here is an update published by the Board on the upcoming Riser Project:

Riser Project Frequently Answered Questions


What Is The Riser Project?

It’s a project to remove and replace virtually every section of HVAC, Domestic Water and Sewage piping in the building.  Most of these pipes are behind the walls within most of the 566 units.  

Why Is Pipe Replacement Necessary?

Brooks Tower is more than 50 years old. Most pipes and plumbing fixtures are at the end of their useful life, while the others are nearing that point. We are unable to just repair-as-we go anymore.  With each passing year, the risk of what engineers call a ‘catastrophic event’ becomes more likely.  It’s nearly impossible to predict where leaks or ruptures will occur because pipes are often behind sealed walls and difficult to inspect. 

Why Is This Happening At Brooks Tower?

High rise residential buildings like Brooks Tower carry thousands of gallons of both hot and cold water every day, and nearly as much waste water, garbage and chemicals that accelerate the damage done to pipes. In 2014, we hired eCUBE to assess our pipes and their report determined that most of our pipes were at, or close to, their life expectancy. 

Who Are The Contractors That Are Working With Us On The Project (so far)?

Bergeman Group has been hired as our HOA Rep/Construction Management firm, MKK is our engineering firm and BTG is our Environmental Firm.  The main contractor has not been hired yet.

Who Is The Bergeman Group, what Is It’s Role, And What Qualifications Does It Have?  Why Can’t We Deal Directly With The Contractors and Save Some Money?     
Bergeman Group specialty is as an Owners’ Representative/Construction Management firm for HOA’s going through major projects like ours.  With a project of this size, we need a consulting firm to identify qualified contractors to do the work. Then, once the bids are submitted, our HOA Rep/Construction Management firm will pay close attention to every detail from actual construction and scheduling to quality assurance, invoicing and finance. All of this gives us a far greater assurance the work will be done properly, and on time with no corners cut. The Bergeman Group is one of a handful of firms with both the skills and experience to accomplish this and its track record is impeccable.

If Pipes Already Have Been Replaced In Our Unit, Will They Need To Be Replaced During This Project?

Yes.  Some pipes on Floors 4-6 have been replaced in the past ten years.  Others may have already had them replaced or repaired as well.  However, no contractor will warranty work done by other contractors, so all pipe will need to be replaced.  

What Warranties Can We Expect from Our Contractor?

Warranties vary depending the on contractor.  Typically, we can expect 1-5 years warranty.  However, we can require any number of years for parts and labor in our Request for Proposal.  The cost will increase depending on the amount additional time we request.  

Will I Need To Move Out For Work To Proceed? 

The goal is to get all work done from 8am to 5pm on weekdays, during which time you may need to leave your unit. When you return, you may not have access to your kitchen or a bathroom for a few days.  In some cases, where the work is difficult to accomplish, re-location for a few days by residents in some units may be necessary. The best estimate for the amount of time needed for the work to be completed in each unit is eight to ten days. Again for most residents we anticipate no need for overnight or multi-day absence from your unit. This provision is a part of the Request for Bids Bergeman Group has sent to potential contractors. 

Will Homeowners Be Required To Vacate Their Unit For Extended Periods Of Time?

The original proposal projected 70 days plus/minus for relocation.  As we looked at the technology needed to get the job done, that has changed. 

Who Will Pay The Cost Of A Hotel, Parking And Meals While I Am Out Of My Unit?

If vacating is required, this will most likely be at the homeowners’ expense rather than the project expense but is dependent on the details of the contract. We are prepared to explore options to make such short term accommodations affordable as well as convenient.

How Much of a Problem Will Asbestos Be?

Our hired Environmental firm (BTG) has tested 50 units and determined that there is asbestos in the drywall and on the pipes behind the walls that needs to be removed. During the work, the contractors environmental hygienist will test air quality to assess asbestos levels before residents return to their units, ensuring state and local health department standards are met. 

How Much Will The Work Affect My Paint, Cabinets, and Other Fixtures?

We are currently discussing what options are in the best interest of the homeowners.   This decision will be made prior to going out for bid to potential contactors.  We will update this answer as soon as the decision has been made. Very soon we expect to post pictures of what this “putback” or restoration will look like on the Brooks Tower website.

How Will You Determine What Units Will Have Work Performed When There Is An Option Between Two Connecting Units?

The Contractor with guidance from our HOA Rep (Bergeman Group) will select the option that is most cost effective.  For example; the F unit kitchen is backed up against the E unit front hall closet.  In this case, most often, the E unit front hall closet will be selected.

How Long Will The Project Take?

We anticipate it will take 2-1/2 to 3 years. The contractor that wins the bid will create a timeline and we will provide it once it is available.  

How Will Access to My Unit Be Controlled While the Work Is Done? I Am Worried That Possessions Will Not Be Protected.

The contractor carries insurance and workers are bonded.  The Management Office will monitor access to units and control issuing keys. It might be a good practice to take photographs and maintain a list of your possessions in the rare case that a claim needs to be filed.

Do I Need to Add Insurance On My Unit and My Valuables?

As previously stated, we expect to address your security concerns.  Though we will do everything possible to assure your unit and valuables will be safe and secure, we highly recommend that every homeowner has Homeowner’s Insurance and every renter has Renter’s Insurance.  This is recommended at all times, not just during construction.

What Do I Need To Do With My Pets When Work Is Being Done In My Unit?

We understand that your pets are part of your family and you’re highly concerned with their welfare.  We are exploring options for the safe handling of your animals in the event that they must vacate your unit while it is under construction.

Will There Be An Impact To Usage of Elevators During The Project?

Yes.  Use of the all the elevators is likely to be affected once construction begins.  The Freight Elevator will be occupied nearly every working day during construction hours (generally 8am – 5pm).  We also recognize that residents will have needs for an elevator capable of heavier or bulkier loads, such as furniture, appliances, or for move-ins or move-outs.  Once we know what the needs of the contractor and subs are, we will likely be looking for help in supervising and dispatching the freight elevator to get maximum use throughout the day, to keep anyone from tying it up when that’s not necessary.  The other elevators may also be pressed into use.  Much as we’d like to predict operations will go smoothly during the duration, it’s reasonable to expect some disruptions and inconveniences.  Please be patient as we try to get maximum usage out of all elevators. 

When Will We Vote On Proceeding With The Project? 

The homeowners will vote on the project once the HOA board selects the most attractive quote.  The plan is to vote this summer. 

Do I Have To Participate In The Riser Project If It Is Approved?

Yes.  We are all part of the Brooks Tower HOA and are required to participate.  Participation is based on your percentage ownership.  You can ask the Management Office what your percentage ownership is, if you don’t know it.  Additionally, approval for the project comes from the owners.  The HOA Board will recommend a contractor to all owners, but owners will have the final say on whether to proceed.  It’s true that a limited number of units will not need work done.  But those residents living in select loft units on the second floor will also benefit from the work and reduced risk of water or sewage damage.  Also, our by-laws require financial participation from everyone.

How Does This Voting Process Take Place?

At present, we’re looking at a two week window for mail-in ballots. Prior to the voting period, we will schedule meetings to acquaint all owners with the construction process, the cost, the duration of the work and other details. These meetings could take place in the evening, during the day and on a weekend for maximum participation by Owners. Once the voting period begins, we want to hold another informational session to address any last minute concerns or questions owners may have.

What Will Be Needed To Approve The Project?

The short answer is that once the Board recommends a contractor and we have a firm price with financing in place, your vote will be to accept or reject that recommendation. Our by-laws say the project will go forward unless 50% plus one owner vote “No.” Owners who do not participate in the voting are not counted as “No” votes. But they are not counted either as “Yes” votes. So in theory a small number of owners could decide the outcome. But there’s another factor to consider. Some of the lending institutions that have expressed interest in financing the project have stated that they’re looking at significant owner support. The numbers they’ve provided are in the 67 to 75% range for a “Yes” vote. 

Do I Have To Participate In The Riser Project If It Is Approved?

Yes.  We are all part of the Brooks Tower HOA and are required to participate.  Participation is based on your percentage ownership.  You can ask the Management Office what your percentage ownership is, if you don’t know it.  Additionally, approval for the project comes from the owners.  The HOA Board will recommend a contractor to all owners, but owners will have the final say on whether to proceed.  It’s true that a limited number of units will not need work done.  But those residents living in select loft units on the second floor will also benefit from the work and reduced risk of water or sewage damage.  Also, our by-laws require financial participation from everyone.

What Will The Loan Rates Be And How Will The Assessment Be Paid?

We are currently looking into interest rates, but a rate cannot be finalized until we know the total price of the project. Typically, during construction we will only be required to pay the interest on the loan, and this amount will be assessed as part of your HOA dues.  After construction is completed, there may be an option to either pay your share in full or over the life of the loan for the next 10-20 years assessed in your HOA dues.  Once more details are available, they will be shared with all homeowners.

How Will Re-Piping Affect The Sale-Ability And Price Of My Unit?

Generally, once the construction of the project begins there is a positive impact to the reputation of the property which  increases sale-ability and market value of the units.

What Will The HOA Board Base Use To Make Its Decision On A Contractor? 

The HOA Board will base its decision on established Evaluation Criteria.  In part, it will consist of Cost, Timeline, Convenience to homeowners, and Experience of past projects similar to ours.