This daycare center in Williamsville, NY stayed open during major remedial work to stop leaks and drafts.
The Kids' Korner Children's Center in Williamsville, NY had barely opened for business when the roof began to leak. Long cold spells produced more ice dams and more leaks each winter. Meanwhile, the center was cold and drafty inside. Clearly, neither the roof nor the walls had been properly constructed, but owner Lynn Sutton-Krawczyk couldn't get any help from her builder. She heard about Tom Hamilton through a contractor friend in Rochester, NY, and in 2001, she asked for his help to get the real causes of the problems in her new building.
Upon Tom's meticulous inspection, he found that the roof and ventilation were both poorly installed, and the batt insulation was installed on top of the lay-in grid ceiling. While investigating, Tom also found other construction issues, including missing insulation from the walls. In order to stop the leaking and draftiness, both the roof and walls needed to be reinstalled and reinsulated. Tom brought back the general contractor and the architect, but each blamed the other for the problems.
While the architect was helpful, the builder wasn't budging, so Tom brought in attorney Jim Gresens to represent Lynn in a five-day arbitration to mediate a solution. Thanks to Tom's diligence and adherence to the science behind the problems, along with his detailed documentation, the builder paid for $275,000 of the $325,000 required to repair all the construction defects. Lynn then hired Tom to oversee the reparation work. "He was concerned about keeping my business going while the problems were being fixed," says Lynn, "so he and his crew were working nights and weekends here for three months." Now the building is warmer and safer—finally, and thankfully. She had dipped into her children's college funds to pay for Tom's help and legal expenses. "I paid $10,000 for the building permit, and the town inspector never picked up on the insulation issues," says Lynn. "It took a year from start to finish, but Tom gave a hundred percent in this case, and he used creative problem-solving to keep us going in the process."
"Truthfully, now that I've been through an arbitration for my own building, the best advice I could give a business owner who's planning to build is to get Tom Hamilton involved at the front end of the project. That's why I referred Tom to a friend in Buffalo who hired him when she was getting ready to build her own daycare center. Most business people haven't built a building before and don't know what it involves or what they need. Bringing in that voice of experience when you're not experienced in the building trades would save them a lot of heartache."
Owner Of Kids' Korner Children's Center
"I've known and worked with Tom for more than ten years, and he always delivers the goods. He's very thorough and persistent. And his background as a licensed architect and roofing specialist is unique in the field—so he understands buildings better than most of the architects who design them. Since he's a third-party expert, he could also be an expert witness in a trial. Fortunately, he fills the same role in an arbitration proceeding, and arbitration is what usually resolves building disputes."
Senior Partner, Duke, Holzman, Photiadis & Gresens LLP, Buffalo, NY