By Pete Szmurlo, PMI President
March 18, 2011
By Lisa Balde and Charlie Wojciechowski
updated 3/16/2011 8:53:27 PM ET 2011-03-17T00:53:27
Even Villa Taj, the most expensive home on the Illinois market, is susceptible to water damage.
Earlier this month pipes burst in the vacated home's second-floor bathrooms and spilled a whopping six million gallons into the 45,000-square-foot Burr Ridge mansion.
The water accumulated over several weeks before a real estate agent for the home, which was listed in 2009 for $25 million, discovered it on March 5.
That much water could supply the village of Burr Ridge for two to three days, according to Community Development Director Doug Pollock, and it ultimately did damage on every floor. Floors have buckled and ceilings collapsed.
"I don't know how much the bill would be, but it will be a lot," Pollack said. "And we will bill [the owner] for it."
The home is known as "the crown jewel of the Midwest" for its 160 tons of imported Gold Jerusalem stone, 20-car heated garage and 15,000 square-feet of terrace space.
The village declared the building unsafe.
The post-flood listing price of the home isn't known. At its height, Villa Taj flaunted features such as:
- Five master bedroom suites, each with bathrooms, walk-in closets, fireplaces, and handcrafted ornamental doors - Jacuzzi-equipped bathrooms - Conservatory, library, cigar room, wine cellar, dining lounge, formal dining room, grand kitchen, family entertainment room and a 2,400 square foot central ballroom - Two-lane bowling alley
The above mentioned residence suffered a catastrophic mechanical breakdown, a type of failure that is worth sharing with others. This is a huge loss for the owner of the property as well as the village. Keep in mind that this home is labeled by the media as the crown jewel of the Midwest and the most expensive home on the Illinois market. As an owner of a service company, the first question that came to my mind as I read this article was, “how could this have been prevented?” Without knowing all of the details involved, I can only conclude the following;
Home is subjected to freezing temperatures as all other homes are in Illinois.
Pipes’ bursting inside a structure may be caused by a handful of reasons such as a natural disaster, physical force or friction being exerted onto the piping itself, poor soldering joints or faulty and/or questionable piping/fittings, utility interruptions and of course water’s hydraulic effect once it is frozen.
Excessive cold air infiltration such as an open door or broken window.
Heating system or temperature control failure.
Someone will determine the cause of this failure and those results may be factored in by the insurance company involved. That still does not answer my question of what steps may have been taken to avoid all of this. In our industry there are many tools and products on the market today such as water sensors and low temperature alarms, all of which are designed to put the property owner at ease and to avoid this kind of incident. Only a few people know whether these precautionary measures were offered or discussed and I am certain that if this was an option being offered then, the choice to opt out of these measures must be deeply regrettable right about now.
Let’s face it, the home owners, builders, real estate agents, insurance agents and inspectors were all involved in the building and selling of this property. Did anyone ever discuss the possibility of this happening? Did anyone discuss preventative maintenance? Did anyone look at the heating system and controls prior to freezing weather arriving? I can tell you this - a good heating and air conditioning company would have brought this up. Unfortunately, so many times equipment owners state that their HVAC system is new and they have no interest or need in scheduling a preventative maintenance program. Without jumping to conclusions, it is safe to bet that had someone discussed scheduling a preventative maintenance inspection at this property and moving forward with it, this flooding possibly may have been prevented. If only the owners of this property had taken my call a few years ago…..
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