London Bridge

This
post was originally published on September 6, 2005 in I Hate My
Developer 1.0

When I think of the children's song "London Bridge is Falling Down" I
tend to think of our back porches.

To put it mildly, our porches are a Lincoln Park tragedy waiting to
happen.

For those of your not in the know,
roughly two years ago two groups of people in an apartment building were
having a party in one of the more popular north side neighborhoods named
Lincoln Park.

As with most summer parties, guests spilled out on to the back porches. Eventually the porches fell under the
strain of numerous people and pan caked one on top of the other
causing thirteen deaths and multiple injuries.

In short, it was
a nightmare---one I don't want repeated in our little neck of the
woods. The last thing we need is friggin lawsuits flying around and
deaths and/or injuries to contend with.

As a result we have spent
a majority of this calendar year getting estimates, doing due diligence
on contractors and trying to figure out how in God's name were going to
pay for it all.

At first we were simply going to repair our
porches but as the estimates started rolling in and individual after
individual told us the dire state of our porches, our project turned
from a repair to a replace. Either way, we weren't (and aren't) even
remotely prepared to deal with the City of Chicago Department of
Buildings and their brutal permit process.

The bureaucracy surrounding getting anything built or getting a permit
to get anything built in the city of Chicago is simply frightening.

I'd
rather be thrown in the stocks without food and water for a few days.
I'd rather take Calculus again than even attempt to negotiate that
nightmare of a process downtown. The thought of going to DCAP
(Department of Construction and Permits) honestly breaks me out in a
rash.

Some of the yahoos that we got estimates from expected us, a
bunch of novices, to navigate the getting blueprints, a structural
engineer, an architect and chat with a project manager from DCAP all on
our own.

Yeah right...

While we were murky on who was going
to do the work at that point, we did come up with a budget for the
porches and some other work that we wanted to get done and start the
process of levying a special assessment.

Now I know that it sounds a little ass backwards but we had to start collecting
money for whatever portion of the project had to be done. We couldn't
wait too much longer to get the financial portion together lest we spin
our wheels and the project never gets off the ground.

Nonetheless,
we as an association also had a "Plan B" in our back pocket.

As
I've mentioned, our porches are in horrible at best. They really are in
the process of falling down and should have been either repaired or
replaced when the building was rehabbed. The catch 22 is that seeing
that people couldn't come up with their portion of he special assessment
out of thin air, we offered several types of payment plans.

Obviously that
was not going to be the most popular option with most of our unit owners, myself
included.

We need the money right away to fix our porches but
there was no way several tens of thousands of dollars was going to
materialize out of nowhere. What's a cash strapped association to do?

Get
a bank loan of course.

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