Originally published September 24, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times
West Grace South, the newest residential building on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus, is a five-story, 112-apartment hall that resembles a luxury hotel. But recently, the latest in student housing has been experiencing some serious draining and leaking problems that are making some students irritable and suspicious.
Suitemates Page Michanco and Amy Macomber first noticed leaking in their bathrooms during the first week of school. Their problems include excessive leakage from the floor bathrooms above them into their showers, and their showers are in turn leaking to the floor below them.
Despite multiple visits from maintenance, Michanco’s shower still leaks.
“I was hoping they would be fixed the first time,” Michanco said. “I guess what I’m most mad about is that they aimed for Aug. 1 … and I just feel like if they weren’t ready they shouldn’t have opened … they should have made sure these problems were solved.”
Michanco and Macomber said they are upset at the frequent visits by maintenance, noting personal items being moved and floors lined with carpenter dust and the fact that the showers still aren’t totally fixed. Michanco’s shower currently has a 2 x 2 hole in the ceiling where the drains are exposed and when the students in the floor above them take a shower, “it’s like a rainforest,” she said.
Michanco said she refuses to tell her parents about the problems in her building because she is afraid they will be mad. “My mom is paying for this building,” she said. “This is her money.”
Alvalia Pemberton occupies the floor below Michanco and Macomber. Extensive water damage ran from her ceiling down the walls of her bedroom because of the girls’ bathroom above, Pemberton said.
“I took a picture right as it first happened,” Pemberton said.
Maintenance has since repaired the wall in Pemberton’s room but she said she still sees problems. Her shower has a similar gaping hole in the ceiling where a door will be placed to better access the pipes in the future.
Allison Patel, housing manager of Rhoads, Brandt and West Grace South, sent an email to students that alerted them to some of the maintenance issues in the building on Sept. 11. The email notified students that maintenance would have to replace the shower drains on floors two through five and would be cutting out the ceiling of the showers to access to the showers above in order to do so. The work was originally estimated to take eight to ten days, but Patel said that more time will be needed.
Some of the problems arose from a faulty connection between the drains and the drain pipes that allowed for some seepage of water during construction, Patel said. There are also some issues with the connection of PVC pipes to cast iron pipes that maintenance will be fixing as well, she added.
Patel said that there was no indication that the building was not ready to open after being properly inspected by the building code official and certified for occupancy.
Patel could not say whether the drain and leaking issues stemmed from time constraints in the construction project.
Although the problems are getting fixed, the girls are not yet reassured. “For a new building you kind of expect to move in with an advantage over everybody else,” Michanco said,“not problems.”