Friday, February 8, 2013

Exterior Makeover

 The Boulders, East Hadley Road, Amherst

The Boulders, circa 1975 when it was known as "Brittany Manor", one of the original large professionally managed apartment complexes in town, is getting a major exterior renovation, shedding the quaint but dated looking wood shingles in favor of a cleaner, tighter vinyl siding and new energy efficient windows. 

The project is estimated to cost $849,996 and has generated $8,700 to the town in building permit fees.  Although town assessor David Burgess confirms that current assessed value of $11,651,200 ($240,000 in property tax payment) will not go up as the renovation is "considered a reasonable expense to maintain the property."

Not a bad idea, as it gives landlords an incentive to do basic maintenance. Although we have a few in town that consider basic maintenance above and beyond their call of duty.


Matt said...

To be fair, Larry, landlords viewing basic maintaince as above and beyond the call of duty is hardly an Amherst problem. It probably affects most of the country -- especially when the renters are under 25 and hence not likely to stay more than a year. When you consider the difficulties in building new apartments, the ball is even more in the landlord's court because it means that supply grows much, much, much slower than demand -- especially in Amherst, with the university refusing to build more residence halls and increasing its enrollment.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, funny thing is all the apartment complexes on East Hadley Road -- Riverglade (now "The Brook), Boulders, Southpoint and Mill Valley Estates were given a hard time at start up.

Tom Porter said...

In the 70's, how well the elegant moniker "Brittany Manor" conveyed the developer's intent that we in South Amherst should lord it over the Pufton Villagers in the north end. Although both were made of the same "cardboard classic" construction materials!

Dr. Ed said...

HOPEFULLY the new windows are going to have a little bit more protection from children falling through them than the old ones did -- they were at most a few inches above the floor and when opened had absolutely nothing to prevent a child from falling from the 2nd/3rd floor. (There was a screen, but I've seen a Siamese cat push a screen out before - it wouldn't have stopped a 30 lb child from falling.)

I believe the Building Code now addresses this (Brittany Manor was grandfathered) so hopefully this will be addressed. And there were some vermin issues with the existing exterior siding, I forget what but it was more than just the occasional Robin's nest (which I wouldn't have made a fuss about).

HOWEVER, this is largely cosmetic. Make the place look better so as to impress the parents come spring rental season. It doesn't address the wiring. It doesn't address the plumbing. It doesn't address the lack of any fire detection/alarm system -- all each unit had (and I believe still has) is a single battery operated smoke detector.

As to fire doors, once you have the central building alarm system, you can have magnetic hooks to hold them open (should tenants desire to do so) because when the alarm sounds, it cuts power to these magnets and the fire doors close. This eliminates all the problems with fire doors propped open, along with sprung hinges from tenant efforts to hold doors open. (Doors with sprung hinges don't fully close, a problem in a fire...)

Most of the 2nd & 3rd floor toilets either are or have leaked onto the head of the person sitting on the toilet below -- every bathroom I ever saw in there that wasn't currently leaking had either a patch or whole new bathroom ceiling. Yes.

There are real problems with buildings designed with a 30 year life expectancy and built in the 1970s. Cosmetic exterior improvements doesn't address that...

Dr. Ed said...

Tom Porter -- Brittany Manor when new probably did. The units are quite large, memory is about a third bigger than Puffton, and the layout with a center main loop road and parking lots off it is far better than Puffton where people back right into oncoming traffic.

While I never saw it, I believe Brittany Manor originally had a nice swimming pool and related recreational area. Its open spaces are far more esthetically pleasing and usable than the patchwork of Puffton. It had/has community garden spaces -- and for some reason had/has the silo on the portion that is now Southpoint.

During the Carter Administration, Brittany Manor probably was quite nice. But it was built with a 25-30 year life expectancy and is now almost 40 years old -- much like a 15-20 year old clunker which once was a lovely automobile, these buildings have real problems.

Anonymous said...

The real tragedy of Brittany Manor and places like it is that they don't have a recycling program. I find it despicable that a business would not employ basic social responsibility (and ethics) to maximize profits.

If I lived there, I would definitely lobby for this.

Anonymous said...

Is that really vinyl siding they are adding? From the clean lines, I'd guess it was some kind of fiber cement (HardiPlank, Nachia, etc.), but you can't really tell from the distance of the photo. Though the design is pleasant, in a Days-In sort of way, it also minimizes the amount of detail work around the lapped siding, which minimizes the shabby aspects of vinyl. But vinyl still wont age gracefully and unless there is a fire barrier under it, will make a building that size more than a little vulnerable to fire. Fiber cement solves both of those problems, and would thus improve the long term prospects for a building like this one.

Anonymous said...

From a closer look at the zoomed photo, it looks as if they used something other than vinyl. The spacing of vinyl is strictly dictated by the interlocking of the panels, so you usually see awkward cuts where it meets the top ledge and around any window openings, where this job appears to be spaced evenly. I also don't see any evidence of a "soft line" between every other clapboard that's evident in most vinyl jobs. If the management in fact used something better, kudos to them.