By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The story of Georgetown Condominium, located near Green Hill, Tennessee, shatters the condo owner’s dream of a low-maintenance, carefree, and affordable lifestyle.
The horror story began in June, when Lindsay Bramson and the WSMV I-4 team reported that a dangerous gas leak. That prompted Piedmont Gas company to shut off power to the entire condominium complex, leaving hundreds of owners and residents without hot water.
WSMV followed the story for more than three months.
According to several reports, the condo association arranged for delivery of four trailers to the Georgetown parking lot, each of them equipped with showers for residents to use.
That would have been bad enough for a few days, or a week or two. But residents who wanted a hot shower had to haul their personal gear and a change of clothes to and from the portable trailers for three months.
Some residents found it easier to take cold showers at home, or to boil a pot of water, and mix it with cold water in the bathtub.
But imagine the inconvenience of having no hot water for washing dishes or doing laundry for several months.
Why did it take so long to restore hot water to condo units?
Well, it was because, after a few weeks of working with Piedmont Gas on an estimate and time-table for repairs, the condo board decided to convert to electric power instead.
The condo association says that the conversion will ultimately save the association and residents money on their utility bills. Also a factor: Piedmont Gas estimated that repairs would have taken six months!
By contrast, the 12-week timeframe for conversion to electric power seemed to be the obvious choice.
Hundreds left without gas for weeks; forced to shower in a trailer
Work begins on condo complex without hot water after News4 I-Team investigation
Of course, the utility conversion came at a cost, forcing owners to pay $3,800 per unit, according to one WSMV report. After the entire condominium switched from Piedmont Gas to Nashville Electric Service, unit owners had to purchase and install their own heating and air conditioning units and hot water heaters, at a cost of roughly $15,000 per unit.
Green Hills condo residents pay thousands to restore hot water
Lindsay Bramson Oct 2, 2018 Updated Oct 3, 2018
It’s the kind of thing we take for granted. You turn on the shower and the water gets hot. But as we’ve been telling you, the people in a Green Hills condominium complex have had to shower in trailers for months.
Hundreds of people forced to shower in a trailer for months will soon have hot water again.
The News4 I-Team has been documenting how it happened and Investigative Reporter Lindsay Bramson found there’s relief at last, but not without a high price tag.
For months people who live there were forced to shower in a trailer that sat in a front parking lot. That trailer is now gone but residents say it was something they’ll never forget.
“I don’t ever want to do that again as long as I live,” said Leslie Glenn who has lived in Georgetown for 23 years.
So, Glenn, along with everyone else in the complex, was forced to pay out of pocket for not only a new water heater but also new air conditioning units.
“The electric total bill was $5,842 and the bill for heat and air was $9,533,” said Glenn.
Costing her more than $15,000 of her own money.
So, what went wrong?
The condo association isn’t talking. And, if The Georgetown condo association ever had a website, it has been taken down.
Condo owners were blindsided, according to reports. They don’t really know how the association arrived at the total costs for the conversion and equipment upgrades.
However, it’s safe to assume that The Georgetown had decades-old gas lines that have needed attention for years. During that time, the condo association chose not to raise assessments to pay for proactive repairs or conversion from gas to electric.
So, when a crisis occurred, the condo association found itself without a contingency plan, and short on cash to pay for either repairs or a utility conversion.
The condo association probably could have been more proactive about maintaining its utility supply lines. But, the truth is, many condo associations don’t plan ahead for expensive repairs and upgrades, even though they’re inevitable.
Had condo owners been saving money in a reserve account to pay for future projects, this entire fiasco might have been avoided.
About Georgetown Condominium
And, believe it or not, units at The Georgetown aren’t exactly condos for low income households.
Rents at the Georgetown range from $1,100 to $2,200 per month, according to Zillow. According to condo.com, list prices for units range from $192,000 – $289,000, relatively affordable home prices by Nashville standards, but certainly not inexpensive.
I have a strong hunch that owners did not anticipate almost spending an additional $20,000 this year to upgrade their homes for something as basic as heat and hot water. And they probably never expected to be going without hot water for three months, while waiting for their condo association to arrange for repairs.