Another deck coating case settled in favor of HOA

From Marc Alexander & William M. Hensley ‘s website;

Homeowner sued HOA in unlimited jurisdiction superior court over an assessment for maintenance/repair work done on homeowner’s balcony. In Gabriel v. Canyon Haven Homeowners Assn., Case No. D052178 (4th Dist., Div. 1 Jan. 28, 2009) (unpublished), the appellate court affirmed a $1,575 judgment against homeowner and an award of attorney’s fees/costs of over $18,500 ($17,923.50 of which were fees).

You have got to read this case on a balcony maintenance issue that just got settled recently!

What a fascinating case and great insight into the world of HOA’s. I was a CAI certified manager of HOA’s some years ago, before becoming a deck waterproofing contractor and consultant.

I’ve always maintained that waterproof decks are first a roof (protecting space below that was intended to be kept dry and free of moisture intrusion) and then secondly a deck one can walk on.

HOA’s CC&R’s usually put the onus of maintaining, repairing and replacing the roofs on the Association. It should be the same with decks in all cases. Asking owners to maintain the deck attached to their unit is simply asking for trouble; they are almost always left unmaintained. I see it happen in my job everyday. Case in point, the claim that 18 decks at this Assoc were in similar condition.

Why did the HOA take so long to try to make the owner maintain their deck? Deck coatings, depending on the manufacturer/type, typically need to be resealed every 1-3 years.

It doesn’t sound like a large balcony, judging from the relatively small cost of replacing the waterproofing membrane.

As a contractor, I would have to charge around $600 at least to cover my costs and time to reseal this one balcony.

As a single owner, try to get a deck contractor to come out and clean and reseal your ONE little deck-you’ll probably find that is pretty futile.

So why so much for one deck? My time to come inspect the deck and write a contract/proposal for the work. Office personnel time to check the contract, schedule the work, write a pre-lien notice that says is we don’t get paid…we can lien your home, 2 workers to set up and send out with a truck and the materials/supplies needed for the work, drive to the home, set up and protect the work area, pressure wash and clean, and then reseal the deck. Wait time while the deck is drying, I pay them by the hour.

Now if I had 18 decks to do at once, the costs to do all of them at once would be greatly reduced, as we can take advantage of production work where we are not standing around watching paint dry-we are moving to another deck to pressure wash it, then to another, then we come back and start repairs/resealing, moving through all of them efficiently. The HOA stays on a regular maintenance schedule, ensuring that the decks are water resistant as intended.

HOA’s mistake it sounds like was assigning maintenance to owners, owners mistake was fighting it in court with an attorney who is only to happy to bill you.

This is a sad case indeed!

Thanks for the insight, I hope you don’t mind that I posted the case/your article onto my blog at