1 year later, post-Irma work continues at Cayman Cay

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The roof at Cayman Cay Villas was destroyed Sept. 10, 2017, by wind damage blamed on a microburst. Islander Photo: Courtesy Tom Knarr
Accutech Restoration and Remodeling contractor Rob Wilkes oversees the remodel job Sept. 6 at Cayman Cay Villas, 4307 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

The work definitely should be done by this time next year.

That’s the word from a Cayman Cay Villas contractor about an estimated completion date on 10 condos in Holmes Beach a year after Hurricane Irma ripped off the roof and rendered the south building uninhabitable. The north building of the two-building complex was not impacted.

Irma’s winds barreled through Florida and created $50 million in damage statewide.

The storm hit Anna Maria Island Sept. 10, 2017. And, at Cayman Cay, after the roof came off, the 10 units were drenched in rain before a temporary roof cover was installed.

Also, the power was out. Mold set in.

To do the work, the villas’ condo association hired Accutech Restoration and Remodeling of Sarasota and, in April, project manager Rob Wilkes came to the job at 4307 Gulf Drive.

According to Wilkes, when a microburst hit the south building, it unearthed a storm of problems — involving insurance, termite damage and Federal Emergency Management Agency questions, as well as challenges to bring the building’s 1970s construction up to code.

Getting inspections, estimates and permits became challenging.

A blame game ensued between the city, property manager PMI Holmes Beach Property Management of west Bradenton and Accutech about why work didn’t begin until January.

Accutech has since gutted the building and installed a new roof.

And now, there are more delays.

“Because so much construction is going on” across the area, Wilkes said, trades people are sparse and city inspections are hard to come by.

Condo owner and association board member Tom Knarr spoke to The Islander Sept. 6 about the owners’ frustration with the process.

“We’re at a year. Basically, right now, one of our problems is the city,” he said.

A few weeks ago, the building failed its first plumbing and electrical inspections, Knarr said, adding the city may have been justified on some items, but “too picky” on others.

“They say Joe is just so busy — and he doesn’t have time for it. When I asked if they’re going to hire anybody else, I’m told no,” he said, referring to Joe Aukstikalnis, Holmes Beach senior plans examiner.

All in all, Knarr is satisfied with his contractor and the insurer, but not the city, due to inspection delays. He’s also criticized the building department for delaying a decision on a FEMA 50-percent rule.

“They’re just incompetent and not qualified to do their jobs, in my opinion,” he added.

Neither Mayor Bob Johnson nor building official Jim McGuinness returned Sept. 6-7 calls for comment.

“People are losing money. Tens of thousands of dollars — especially those that rent. I don’t rent my place. But I still have the quarterly dues, taxes and no use of the building at all,” Knarr said.

The condo-owner/board member acknowledged a county tax break from the property appraiser’s office due to the building’s disrepair that lowered his condo unit value from $218,000 to $90,000 for 2018.

Most recently, a faulty lift pump Sept. 6 plagued the project, creating drainage and plumbing backups and uncertainty about who was responsible for the failure and the repairs.

Nonetheless, the project manager took it in stride, hopeful for progress with the plumbing, electrical and HVAC inspections.

“I’m much more optimistic today than I was a few days ago,” Wilkes said.

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