Archive for the ‘House Corporation’ Category

House Corp Update – Jan ’16

Sunday, January 31st, 2016


Before we jump into the January House Corp Update, are you one of the 150+ that are already registered for 45th Birthday?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Register NOW

OK, so a lot of great stuff going on in House Corp this month:

  1. Tom McSwiggan has put together an extensive overview of work done at the house since last summer and has outlined the next projects he is tackling as Director of Operations.
  2. After years of requests with no viable solution, the chapter has a new tax-deductible donation channel!  This has been in the works for many months and is finally ready for rollout so we’re excited to announce the details.
  3. The nomination process for 2016 officers and trustees is now open.  We are looking for a few great men to help out!


House Corp Update – Dec ’15

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Greetings Brothers!  I hope everyone had a great holiday with friends and family and had a chance to recharge for 2016.

We have a lot of stuff lined up for Eta Iota in the coming year with ongoing focus on important house renovations, maintaining a solid balance sheet for future operations and of course, celebrating 45 years at Sigma Chi at ERAU.

Invitations have been mailed for Eta Iota’s 45th Birthday and you should have received them by now. This month’s update will recap how we’ve incorporated feedback from the last major birthday event and Birthday Chairman, James “Gassi” Ahrens(’90) has the Top 10 list of reasons to attend (as if you needed that many).

Two items covered in this month’s briefing:

  1. We listened to feedback from past birthdays and made some changes for 45th we think you’ll enjoy.
  2. Gassi’s Top 10 reasons to attend Eta Iota’s 45th Birthday


House Corp President Update – Nov ’15

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Greetings Brothers!  I hope everyone has recuperated from Thanksgiving feasts & family time.

I stepped back into House Corp as President on November 20th following the resignation of Roger Moody and wanted to take this opportunity to send a quick note on some of the main items House Corp is working on now and what is coming up.

For those of you who remember my first stint as HC President back in the late 90’s, I sent monthly email updates on progress & plans and I will be picking this up again starting with this update.

Three things to take away from this month’s briefing:

  1. 45th Birthday is coming up (March 31-April 3) and full details will be sent out very soon.
  2. 520 South Ridgewood is looking fantastic following recent large projects – you’ll be amazed at 45th.
  3. House Corp finances are in good shape with strong support from fundraising efforts and some exciting upcoming opportunities.


Protected: House Corp. Treasurer Report August 2015

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

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House Repair Update

Thursday, February 5th, 2015



     This report is an update of the work accomplished on the Eta Iota house during the summer of 2014. 


     As most of you know, this past summer’s work was not about aesthetics but rather to repair the mechanicals and components of the main house making it more comfortable for the brothers but also more serviceable and reliable. The work that was performed such as removing the asbestos and installing isolation valves on the plumbing were in preparation for further work during summer 2015.


     More work was accomplished than expected. The list of items on the work itinerary were completed plus an a slew of additional items such as electrical upgrades and a new community bathroom. 


     Although aesthetics were not on the agenda, the undergrads took it upon themselves to paint approximately half the interior of the house as well as power wash and landscape the exterior. More than any other chapter that I have worked with, this group of undergrads are standouts. 


     The rest of the report will detail the work completed as well as future work to be done. The plan is to have the house spit-shined for the 45th.


Asbestos abatement

     A complete asbestos survey was completed in spring 2014 to let us know what products in the house were made of asbestos. We were lucky to find that the pipe wrap surrounding the old galvanized heat pipes was the only building product that contained asbestos. The asbestos was removed in July by A&L abatement . This required some walls and ceilings to be removed and a few days work in the attics. At the end of the removal process, a licensed abatement inspector was called in to ensure that all work was done properly. We now have an abatement certificate that is in Seth Downs possession. The certificate is good forever – asbestos in no longer an issue. The main goal of removing the asbestos was to enable us to work on or remove the old galvanized plumbing and to work in the attics uninhibited – We achieved that goal.



     The summer’s work began with the removal of the old broken second floor HVAC system. This included removing the whole system inside and out along with selected ductwork. The old B.O. bathroom was were the HVAC air handler was installed causing heavy mold and mildew issues therefore the bathroom and closet were both gutted. Upon removing the walls I found that one of the past contractors had buried uncapped live wires behind the walls making it necessary to rewire two rooms – I will address this more under “electrical”.


     The ceiling tiles were removed in the chapter room to access asbestos and plumbing components along with the ceilings and some walls in room 9 & 10 during the asbestos abatement too.


Redesign and Reframe

     After the demolition was done, I framed a “purpose built” HVAC utility closet. The best option was to redesign the existing closet area at the back of the B.O. closing off the old closet door and installing a new door to the exterior hallway so that A/C contractors wouldn’t have to walk through the B.O to get to the air handler for maintenance. For those of you that don’t know: The regalia was removed from the old B.O. a few years ago when the second floor air handler was moved from the attic to a old bathroom on the second floor and put in the “closet” bedroom for storage. The brothers kept the regalia in the closet bedroom so hvac maintenance contractors couldn’t see it. In other words, the old B.O wasn’t being used for its original purpose but once it is renovated, it will be once again (February 2015).


       During the course of the job, I realized that the old bathroom had to be rewired immediately because it was dangerous. Before the bathroom could be rewired, it was necessary to reframe it. The redesign of the bathroom included a new door to the hallway and a closet for paper products. Framing a door directly to the hallway enabled it to be a new common sweetheart bathroom for the house.

     While some of the walls and ceilings were open throughout the house, I looked at the condition of the framing and replaced or strengthened things as necessary.


     Additional framing: Observing the functionality of the house, I saw that the brothers use the kitchen to cook every day but there is no kitchen table – When the dinner table is missing, a large social aspect of the house is missing. The space for the table was taken by the HVAC air handler. When the new first floor HVAC system was installed 2 years back, the contractor installed the first floor air handler in what was the kitchen eating area consuming a great deal of space that should be used for a table or refrigerator.


      At this point I looked for a way to move the first floor air handler to the second floor and feed the ductwork down from upstairs. The answer was to use the HVAC room that was just built for the second floor air handler for the first floor unit instead and feed the conditioned air directly straight down into the chapter room. This would only work if we could find another area for the new second floor air handler. The answer was to reframe the second floor telephone closet and repurpose it to house the second floor air handler.


     Now that the HVAC has been moved, it gives us the ability to open the kitchen back up to its original size- (easy-to be done February 2015). 


HVAC – 1st floor

     As noted above, the first floor air handler was moved up to the new HVAC closet on the second floor. Opening the kitchen was just one of a few reasons for moving the hvac unit. The second was because it was very hastily installed and the refrigerant line was installed across the attic and diagonally across the access door to the attic (not properly insulated or strapped up) so people would use the line to pull themselves up into the attic and they would also walk on the line once they were in the attic. The third reason, was to be able to move the first floor refrigerant line from its former position on the side of the house near the deck in preparation for a new extended deck. Some of you might remember, as you walk through the pass-through (tunnel from front yard to back) the benches stick out creating a knee breaker. The solution: When we build the new north deck, it must be extended 3 or 4 feet (to the north) which in turn will move the benches further away from the hallway. The line is now moved to a better position enabling the large deck. Because the HVAC equipment was under two years old, the same equipment was used just thoroughly cleaned and a new 4″ filter door added.


HVAC – 2nd Floor

     A new Carrier system was installed in the modified (purpose built) telephone closet. This worked extremely well. All the equipment in the house is now made by carrier corporation or its subsidiaries. They make excellent equipment but part of the decision to use carrier was about commonality of equipment and ease of service. Since the other 3 units were carrier or carrier offshoots, it only made sense.

I asked Justin and Eric from Atlantic Coastal HVAC to look over everything and make everything perfect the first time. Upon inspecting the attic ductwork, it was apparent that some of the ductwork needed to be replaced due to mold, water damage, and prior vermin issues. I told them to replace any damaged components and hang the ductwork from the rafters as it should be. They did a remarkable job.


HVAC – Other

As mentioned, all the HVAC components are products of carrier corp.

All ductwork and grills were professionally cleaned.

Both new HVAC rooms were ‘purpose built’. fully rewired, fire code sheetrock, semigloss paint and vinyl flooring with rubber cove base. 

LED lights were installed.

Freeze and overflow cutoff switches are installed to protect the new units.

Condensate pumps are installed instead of gravity drains that can clog.

The units have 4″ filter doors adding service longevity, better airflow and efficiency.

All new copper lines with armaflex pipe insulation was used on all work – the best of its kind.

4 new digital lockout thermostats were installed in the house to set the conditioning range from 68-72 degrees. This also helps to protect against coil freeze.

Sight glasses were installed giving a technician an instant diagnosis capability.



      Stabilizing the plumbing in the main house was also one of the goals of the summer work. As you all know, the house was a mix of copper and almost 60 year old galvanized pipes. The galvanized pipes have a maximum lifespan of 50 years we are already past that point. The galvanized pipes rot internally, many times the first sign of a problem is a leak or a burst. The old galvanized also sends rust down the line clogging toilets fill valves and faucets. In the past, if the house had a leak, there were no ball valves to isolate one part of the house from another, therefore, it was necessary to shut off the water at the street – a big inconvenience for the brothers. Here is a list of some of the plumbing completed by myself or Billy Wilson:


      We removed any active galvanized plumbing (above the slab) in the main house including in walls and ceilings and converted over to copper or cpvc as needed. At the same time we installed isolation valves so that the wings can be shut off independent of the main house and vice versa. Just this one modification has already profoundly changed the maintenance of the house.


     We removed old galvanized steam lines from the walls and repurposed the clay pipe chases to the water heater room for 2 new 1.5″ CPVC lines in preparation for future work replacing the main galvanized line under the slab this summer. One of the new lines is going to be for a cold water main feed and the other for the hot water main feed. They are both in place but not yet in use. Eventually they will be tied into the new CPVC main line (under the chapter floor) and water heater. It is a bit difficult to explain but instead of cutting up the chapter room floor to replace the old galvanized main line, the plumbing is now set up to use the current steel main line under the chapter floor as a “chase”. In summer 2015, we will install a  new CPVC pipe within the old pipe so we don’t have to break up the chapter room floor or driveway. 


     We roughed in the new common / sweetheart’s bathroom on the second floor. Although the bathroom was not planned this summer, this turned out to be the most opportune and cost effective time to do it. With the ceilings and walls already open below the new bathroom to remove asbestos and install the new A/C lines, it seemed to make sense to do the rough in plumbing. Before we started the feeds lines, I noticed an area in the wall that appeared to be damp. Upon further inspection, it was a cracked horizontal 4″ cast iron waste line cause by a previous plumber hitting it with a hammer…That’s where the funny smell was coming from. At that point, it only made sense to just go forward and replace the plumbing as necessary including the waste line to the new bathroom. This included redoing the shower drain in bathroom #22 that was previously done incorrectly by the same plumber that cracked the 4″ waste line.


      Seth Downs made me aware of a reported leak in the “closet” bedroom shower. We repaired a bad solder joint in the wall. The closet bedroom is now fully useable after we put the regalia back in the refurbished B.O.


     We went through each and every room bathroom and repaired:

1) rotten sink traps as needed

2) dripping sink faucets as needed

3) adjusted leaking packings or replace stems as needed

4) replaced shower heads as needed… (Seth downs has supplied water saving shower heads T.B.I.)

5) repaired all toilets as necessary.


** Galvanized under the slab was not slated to be replaced this past summer. Summer 2014’s work was preparing for the plumbing to be replaced under the slab summer 2015.


Waste lines

     Talking to the brothers, I had become aware of sewer backups and issues especially with the north wing. Upon a quick inspection, I saw the exterior sewer cleanout caps were broken or missing and I could not see as many as are required by todays plumbing codes. After consulting with Billy Wilson, we decided to repair the cleanouts that existed and to cut two more cleanouts to bring things up to todays codes. This new setup makes it easier for us to diagnose and clear a clog.

      I couldn’t see the city cleanouts that are supposed to be at the edge of our driveway. I called the water authority and they came out and found one of their cleanouts buried under our driveway near the north wing – it had been paved over. They brought it up to level – gratis. The city knows where the other cleanout is (under the raintree motel’s driveway). It too must be brought up to air, so I will deal with that in February when I am back in Daytona. 

Some of the waste lines are showing signs of roots but not to worry, I will snake them with a camera snake and give a full report before summer 2015.



     Giles Electric performed all the electrical work. They fully rewired the new sweetheart’s bathroom and the two new HVAC rooms. They also wired in the new outdoor HVAC condensers and ran new wiring from the fuse boxes direct to the new air handlers on the second floor. All of their work was done while the ceilings and walls were open from the asbestos removal and plumbing work so it is all installed high and tight in the joists.


     I had asked them to fix a few small items around the house as well as disconnect some unused circuits while they were on site.

     Roger Moody and I were also present for the annual fire system check which Giles performed in September. This test was not on the summer agenda but it was done by Giles.



Plaster work

     After all the sheetrock was back up, Scott Krohl came in and did a masterful job plastering the walls and ceilings in the rooms that we had done plumbing, electrical and asbestos removal. he also did a fantastic job cleaning up the rooms that were in disrepair. I am waiting for him to come back to redo the brothers office so it can be fully reassembled.(February 2015)


     As renovations have progressed, I am removing all popcorn and sand paint from the ceilings in the house because it is a dirt magnet and difficult to patch and paint. The new surfaces have a very light texture to them that will work much better for us.


New doors

     I had planned to replace a few exterior doors with new fiberglass outswing units. The outswing doors are also much more difficult to kick in during a robbery or blow in during a hurricane. I replaced more doors than anticipated on the exterior due to their condition and one on room #9 because the door was mounted backwards letting rain soak the carpet floor & wet the sheetrock walls. That, along with the cracked waste line is the reason room #9 always smelled musty and damp.


    I also installed three doors on the new work on the second floor.


Front columns

     Roger Moody was able to have a friend of his that is a structural engineer come to the house and give his opinion of the 4 steel lali columns on the front of the house. We were both of the opinion that the internal steel columns are sound and the aesthetic surrounds can be replaced at our leisure. This will be done summer 2015 in a PVC material.


Doors – pump & laundry rooms

     In the spring of 2014, I redid the masonry and installed fiberglass doors on the pump and laundry rooms. Within a short time, I noticed the bottom of the doors start to swell & bind. I removed the door slabs and found that the manufacturer had installed a wood filler strip on the bottom of the door instead of a piece of composite plastic, therefore, causing the door to swell. The manufacturer warrantied the doors and they have been delivered to the house. I will install them in February 2015.



     The brothers were very helpful with the house repairs this summer. After most of the heavy work had been done, Chris Giovanetty painted the new HVAC rooms a color that we had chosen called ‘Arizona White’. A pleasant creamy off white color, not the previous hospital white. He asked me if he and the brothers could paint more rooms that color. We had not planned on doing any aesthetics or painting but as long as they were willing to do it… Have at it. Chris, Poff and a handful of others literally painted half the interior by the time the fall semester started; rooms 1,6,8,9,10,18,21,24 & chapter were painted. We will do the rest summer 2015… They worked hard and did an amazing job!


Winter work February 2015

Call water department to raise the south wing waste cleanout to surface.

Camera snake all waste lines.

Install pump & laundry doors.

Sink and mirror in new bathroom.

Plaster, trim & paint brothers office and 2nd FL hallway.

Carpet B.O.

Install all door knobs on new interior doors.

New LED light in brothers office.

Trim all new exterior doors.

Remove old A/C closet and mailboxes from kitchen.

Have Giles check ground wires to electrical panels and pool.

Giles check for loss of neutral to spot lights on south wing.


Build new mailboxes for exec / study room.


Pool related

Check pool leak on skimmer line

Skimmer filter ?

pool motor timer

pool LED light


Future work – summer 2015 and beyond

aluminum chase covers on exterior refrigerant lines.

patch soffit grilles

new cement parking space car stop from cemex in South Daytona

install string of work bulbs in the south wing attic

ridge vents & power vents

spray foam above 2 new A/C rooms

**camera snake up main line under chapter floor to see where tee’s are (different than camera snake on waste).

North wing A/C- renew system add 4″ filter (system has been problematic since installed).

South wing A/C- Remount add 4″ filter

replace galvanized pipes under slab including new CPVC inside old galvanized main (LARGE JOB).

Front column covers

set up “closet bedroom” as guest room.

security fence on front of pass through

fix rear gate new punch pad

fix fences all around yard


new north deck


Thoughts moving forward

Over the past year, we have made great progress renovating the house. The house is at full occupancy and the chapter is at the top of its game. They have been a big part of the renovation process and are intent on maintaining the house correctly.


Moving forward, we still have a lot of work to do. Now that the main house is stabilized, we can concentrate on negating the galvanized pipes under the slabs first in the north wing and then the south wing – once we start the modification of the galvanized in the wings, we are committed because some of it will disintegrate as we remove it. There are a couple of different ways of accomplishing the replumbing of the wings, after consulting with Billy Wilson, we will make a decision and report to house corp. As I mentioned earlier, we will also camera snake the waste lines in both wings in February and report the results. Another large item that will be on the agenda is the A/C units in the wings, modifying or replacing them for proper operation (the north wing coil freezes constantly). The front column surrounds will also need to be done in summer 2015 to be ready for the 45th birthday. If we have the time and the money, we can consider replacing the north deck.


The 45th birthday is just over a year away so the house will need to be in shipshape. That being duly noted, we a need to stay the course to make the sure the house is first structurally sound (good) second, mechanically sound and last, aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, after I complete the winter 2015 work, I will consider what needs to be done and make an itemized itinerary to make sure the house is prepared for the 45th. I will have the itinerary prepared for the 44th birthday house corp. meeting March 27 & 28, 2015.


 Tom McSwiggan

Eta Iota – Summer 2014 house renovations proposal

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

From: Thomas McSwiggan

Subject: Sigma Chi – Eta Iota – Summer 2014 house renovations

Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2014


By now you should all have been emailed a copy of my initial house inspection I performed in March. James presented the report at the House Corporation meeting for the brothers in attendance. This report is an update of some of the findings and work that has been completed since then, as well as, a plan for work that will be done this summer.

Taking into account the findings from the inspection, I feel that the money budgeted this summer would better serve us if it were spent on the structure & mechanicals of the house. These items are, an asbestos survey, an engineering report of the house columns and asbestos and mold abatement. Another concern is the removal, routing and replacement of the rotted galvanized plumbing. The HVAC system on the second floor is also broken and mold ridden and must be replaced. These items are not a surprise; they were identified in the initial inspection.

Some projects have been completed or are in the works since the last report. Paul Prizmonte of Pro Air Monitor Inc. has performed the asbestos survey. Materials samples have been taken throughout the house to identify asbestos and we now have a formal report. An electrician has looked at the pool and pool pump for proper wiring. A pool specialist has confirmed my belief that the pool skimmer & filter system is incorrectly plumbed, which I will explain in detail later. Another project that has been completed is all new light housing with efficient LED bulbs fully illuminating the rear parking area.

I have also been working with the city of Daytona Beach to cleanup the neighborhood. As a developer, if you don’t like your neighborhood, change the neighborhood. As I explained to the city fathers, we are not going to create a compound and wall ourselves in. We are going to work with them to change the area. I gave them a detailed list of things that we needed them to do, such as, new neighborhood watch signs, replace burned out street lights, clean up illegally dumped refuse on Segrave as well as more police patrols at all hours. To their credit, they began working on it right away! Now by the same token, we aren’t fools, although we aren’t going to wall ourselves in, I do believe that the house was too easy a target for the locals. My understanding is that many lawnmowers & weed-whackers have been stolen from the pump room and clothes from the laundry room. For this reason, we are installing doors on the pump room and laundry room; along with a security gate in front pass through by the kitchen.

I have made a list of the work to be done this summer and put some numbers to it. The list of work takes into consideration a 20-30K summer budget.

THE SUMMER PLAN- Repair house and repurpose rooms

This summer I plan to remove the galvanized pipe “above the slab” from the main house: At the same time I will install new copper pipe while rearranging the water flow so that the hot water works correctly. The closet in back of the library -the old brothers room- will be turned into a closet specifically for the new air handler. The room that the air handler is currently in is an old bathroom, this will be returned to it’s original purpose except it will be a common bathroom for the house with its door in the second floor hallway. This common bathroom is needed in the house. The current library is the old brothers office and it will be returning to the brothers’ office. The current brothers office “the closet” will go back to being a rentable bedroom. The current Executive room will be a new combined library, study and exec room. I have found the undergrads don’t have a decent study room setup in the house. I have seen Grady and other brothers studying in odd corners of the house. I think it will benefit them immensely when the new study / library is set up.

Asbestos survey – Completed

An asbestos survey is performed before any work on old houses is performed. It is the initial step in telling us what building material contains asbestos.  Asbestos was used in over 3000 building products in the U.S. from the early 1900’s to the mid 1970’s. This was VERY important to know because of the health risks involved. Asbestos is not all the same. Asbestos is one of 6 naturally occurring silicate minerals that have great insulating properties. The type of asbestos used in 90% of America’s building applications was Canadian Chrysotile, more benign than the blue asbestos that came from the mines of New Zealand and Africa. To be clear, none of it is good to breath. Asbestos has very rigid sharp fibers that when inhaled lodge in the lungs and cause mesothelioma or cancer, years later.

People have asked if having the asbestos survey done is going to open up a can of worms for us and the answer is NO.  The reason the survey was completed was to let us know what building products contain asbestos in the house. We actually found out that there was much less in the house than previously thought. On the other hand, if we remodel, sell or raze the house, it needed to be done. Furthermore, it is my understanding that it has been difficult to get some of the contractors to work in the attics because of the asbestos stigma, so now is a good time to remove it, this will let us have proper maintenance work done in the attics from now on. It is also wrapped around pipes that need to be removed for this summers project and that cannot happen without the removal of the asbestos wrap. It is important to know that the company that does the asbestos survey and manages air quality during the abatement must be different from the company that performs the actual asbestos abatement. This method is a check and balances to make sure fly-by-night contractors are not going to cause more harm than good.

There is no need for the brothers to move out of their rooms while the abatement is in process.

Asbestos survey results just in: After testing all building materials in the house, the pipe wrap was the only product found to contain asbestos. I can’t overstress how great this result is. This is much less asbestos than anyone had anticipated.

  • Survey cost     $ 1800

 Asbestos abatement (removal)

We have received two estimates of $4500 to remove the asbestos pipe wrap from the house, which is a pittance of what it originally could have been. My suggestion for this year is to completely remove all asbestos from the house to remove the health hazards and general stigma that is caused by asbestos.

I just want to explain that the cost differential between the pipe wrap containing asbestos and needing abatement versus what the cost could have been if the insulation and popcorn ceilings needed abatement is tens of thousands of dollars or higher. This is the equivalent of winning the lottery.

  • (est. included)  complete abatement $ 4500

Engineering report

An engineering report is needed for the columns on the front of the house. The 16′ tall square wood boxes that are visible are not actually supporting the roof above. Inside those boxes are 16’x 4″ round steel columns that are the support for the roof. The bottoms of the wood boxes are rotted so I removed some of the material so that an engineer can see the inner steel tubes. It appears that 2 of the tubes are in good condition, one acceptable and one questionable. With the amount of weight on the columns, it is important to know the columns’ integrity. Work on the columns can be done later but I want to get the engineer in now so we can plan for it. If the columns are going to be worked on in the future, the building department is going to want a Florida engineers seal on it.

* I would like to see if we could get a Sigma Chi – Florida Licensed structural engineer to volunteer to inspect the columns.

  • Sigma Chi engineer – Gratis  ?

Galvanized pipe replacement / removal- above slab

Galvanized pipes are actually steel pipes with a zinc coating on the inside, outside or both. They were used extensively for years until the late 60’s and early 70’s when copper became the norm; today we use copper or pvc. Galvanized pipes are tricky because they rot from the inside out. Depending on the thickness of the zinc and the mineral content of the water, Galvanized pipe’s normal life span is about 40-50 years- At this point their functional life is over. The telltale sign of galvanized pipes rotting from the inside is lack of pressure and flow as is witnessed in many of the brother’s bathroom sinks. Sometimes the telltale warning never comes and the first indication of a problem is a sudden burst.

The galvanized pipe that is in the house ranges in size from 1/2″ to 2″.  Needless to say, the bigger the pipe and the more pressure the worse the potential damage. Much of the galvanized plumbing inside the house has been changed over to copper pipe but there is still a significant amount left to replace. At some time, the easiest pipes to access were changed but as expected the harder to replace pipes remain. The pipes that remain to be changed in the house are hidden behind walls wrapped with asbestos or embedded under the concrete slab.

From experience and examination, I have an idea how the plumbing schematic runs but it is impossible to say for sure until I open a couple of walls and send a camera through the pipes under the floor. The plumbing in the house has been pieced together over time and it is not always done correctly or logically, for this reason, the plumbing must be done on a time and material basis (well material anyway:-). something that I do know is that there are not many shut-offs to isolate waterlines incase of a burst, so I will be installing isolation valves in the new plumbing so the whole house doesn’t need to be shut down for a leak.

I have removed approximately 100 feet of 3/4″ galvanized to date. There are corresponding photos attached.

  • Priced in plumbing below

Plumbing – Hot water piping, recirculator system, etc.

As stated in my report, the Rheem commercial water heater is 22 years old. We should make a plan to replace it in the future but not this year. The cost of the unit alone is approximately $8200 (no labor incl.) Since the unit is isolated in the laundry room and can’t do too much damage if it leaks, I would rather concentrate our efforts this year on removing the asbestos, and improving the mechanicals inside the house. One of the undergrads chief complaints is that they have to leave their showers running for half an hour before it turns hot. This is a tremendous waste of water. There are two main causes of the hot water being cold; the hot water heater line runs down the exterior of the house and up the exterior wall and then through the attics cooling down the whole way. The other is that the hot water sits in the attic pipes and cools overnight because it has no way to recirculate back to the water heater. The first remedy is to open up the wall inside the house and install a new 2″ copper feed directly into the interior of the house from the laundry / hot water heater room, negating the exterior hot water pipes.

To resolve the second issue, there is a brand new product on the market that will be installed to recirculate the water to keep it warm in the pipes; as a result, the brothers should have hot water as soon as they turn on their showers. This system has a timer that can start up an hour or so before the brothers wake up. Between this new inexpensive system and the rerouting of the plumbing, I think it will resolve the hot water issue and save us money on both water and sewer bills- remember, the city charges for water used and basically again on the way out for a sewer charge.

A new toilet hub flange is needed on the second floor, this will be installed too.

New Recirculation system

Move Hot water line

Replace toilet hub

  • Total plumbing              $ 4200

* Important plumbing note: Initially I had thought that we would remove all galvanized plumbing from the house but before that happens the asbestos must be removed. After doing some preliminary exploratory work, it seems that some of the galvanized “main feed lines” are under the concrete slab and probably have branch lines off of them. Taking into account money and time, I want to postpone replacing just the portion under the slab until next year.  I do want to send a pipe camera through the pipes under the slab so that there are no surprises next year.

  • (sublet) pipe camera budget       $ 750

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air cond.)

In my original inspection report, I had noted that the second floor HVAC unit was bad and needed to be replaced. It consists of the interior air handler and outside compressor. This unit was originally installed in 2001 and uses R-22 refrigerant which is costly and being phased out. It seems that this unit was never installed properly whether in the attic or the bathroom where it was installed in 2013. The bathroom/closet that the unit is in was not designed to house HVAC equipment and has created mold problems, in turn; the mold spores are spread throughout the house by way of the A/C ductwork. The new room for the new air handler will be in the closet at the back of the old brothers office and will be designed correctly to avoid mold problems. The filter on the new air handler will be 4″ wide, which allows for six months of operation before a change as opposed to the 1″ filters that are currently in all the machines. This way they can be changed between semesters.

All the filters on all the air handlers will eventually be changed over to the larger style for practical and functional purposes.

All the thermostats will eventually be changed to models that have a 68-degree lower limit on the temperature setting to make sure that nobody can lower the temp and freeze the coils, which damages the units.

All exterior lines will be covered with aluminum capping and sealed correctly so that rodents cannot enter the attic again.

To do the HVAC work, I have received estimates between approximately $6- 9K.

  • (est. included)  HVAC Approx. $ 7200

Duct cleaning

The second floor ducts are very dirty and have had mold spores blowing through them. It is important to clean all the ducts for health reasons and to prevent contaminating the new equipment. The duct cleaning will include a microbial spray to remove mold, mildew & other contaminants.

  • Cleaning   $ 700

Pool filter & pool plumbing

As some of you know, Blue Ribbon Pools (as opposed to Blue Water Pools who was the prior servicer) has been maintaining the pool; this means both the cleaning and mechanical maintenance. As far as the cleaning of the pool, they seem to show up and keep a log of when they are there. They bill a steady rate for that service. On the other hand, I think their mechanical maintenance has been very questionable & problematic. An example of the questionable service is that they had installed a new pool pump a few months back that the bearings went bad on, squealing like crazy! Although Blue Ribbon was at the house cleaning the pool every week, they never said a word until I said, “Hey that motor you installed is bad.” There was also a leaking PVC line that they overlooked in the pump room as well. After speaking to Maurice the owner about the pool loosing water, he said, “We can fix it for $275 from the top or $800 if we have to break concrete”. Well, they didn’t break concrete and billed us $800. When confronted Maurice said, he would correct the bill to $275 and again it came in wrong at $400. They corrected it to $275 when confronted once again.

Another issue, the pool equipment froze and cracked this winter because of freezing weather. It wrecked the pump and split the filter tank. Do you think they suggested making sure the pump room was kept warm in the winter???

The last problem that put me over the edge with them was when I realized the skimmers on the pool weren’t working- they were turned off. I had mentioned this to Blue Ribbon many times but to no avail. I looked at the system and realized that there was no filter on the skimmer lines and it was sucking in and recirculating crap into the pool meanwhile destroying pumps and that is why the skimmers were shut off.

Through a contractor friend, I got a referral that is supposed to be the best in Daytona who looked at the system and confirmed that indeed, there was a filter missing and that it was plumbed incorrectly. He also told me that the pump motor is too large for the pump. It is a 3hp that runs 24hrs per day!

What makes this story so interesting is that Jimmy Eden’s (the pool expert) dad Cal maintained the pool for 26 years for us without a problem until someone (nobody seems to know who made this decision) decided they wanted to maintain the pool themselves to save a few bucks. Cal said he showed the undergrads how to do it and hasn’t heard from us in years. Cal knows the complete history of the pool and confirmed that indeed someone removed the big filter tank for the skimmers that was once in the corner of the pump room.

Furthermore, someone has cut the ground wire to the ladder and there is no GFI circuit breaker on the pump or pool deck lights to protect against electrocution.

Now, is there any wonder why the pool is costly?

* Note I don’t want to do anything besides the electrical updates on the pool this summer.  We will wait until the cooler weather to install the skimmer filter; in the meantime, we will get more estimates.

  • Estimates in future

Pump & Laundry doors / new locks

As I mentioned previously, the masonry is done and the doors are installed. The purpose is so we can secure tools and laundry but also maintain some heat in both rooms as they both have a significant amount of plumbing in them that can be damaged by freezing weather. The cost of the doors is attached to the spring 2014 receipts. We need to install 2 mechanical punch code locks on the new doors. There are many different lock options and prices but the mechanical punch code locks that will work are about $300 each.

  • Two locks  $ 600


Some electrical work will be needed in the new air handler room including wiring the unit from the fuse box to the new equipment as well as a new outlet and a light.

Some wiring work will be needed in the old bathroom to return it to a common bathroom- this is the room that the air handler is currently in. A fan / light, vanity light, GFI outlet will be installed.

We are having GFI breakers installed on the pool pump and pool deck lights to protect the brothers from electrocution.

Repair the pool ladder grounding.

New bathroom fan in Room 6 and 15.

  • Approx. electrical cost $ 2150

Safety gate

There is a new gate designed for the pass-through from the front to back that will have a punch code lock on it.

  • gate    $ 1100
  • lock    $ 300


Miscellaneous building material

Two new doors (upper hallway), one for the new air handler room and the other for the new bathroom. Sheetrock, 2×4’s, tape, compound, primer, paint, tape, screws, quikcrete, Pex tubing and fittings, plumbing supplies, vanity & toilet, doors, knobs & trim for new bathroom and air handler room. We will need some flooring too.

  • bldg. material $ 2000

Doors for wing bedrooms

There are a few doors on the wings that have broken doorjambs. These are the older style in-swing doors and should be replaced with outswing doors this summer. We should do at least 3, maybe 4 this summer. There are 10 doors in total that will need to be replaced over time.

  •  door allowance  $ 900



I am asking for permission to spend up to $26,200 this summer for needed repairs and updates. I am also asking for a reserve fund of $2000 incase I want to hire sublet labor. I am not asking for any labor costs for myself.

INVITATION TO ALL ALUMNI – Josh Chancey set up an Evite

I will be back down at the house for the whole month of July maybe the first week of August as well. Any alumni that want to help or just come down to visit would be welcomed. There will be no shortage of things to do. Come on down even if you don’t know much about construction, but want to help or learn. Someone can man the BBQ. I would like this to be fun and you might set an example for the undergrads 😉

Tasks that alumni can help with:

  1. sheetrock, taping, sanding
  2. priming & painting – interior and exterior
  3. rehang fans
  4. hang doors
  5. flooring
  6. power wash exterior
  7. yard work
  8. running to Home Depot or Ace hardware – “Gofer”
  9. fundraising

Report prepared by:

Thomas McSwiggan


Feel free to contact me with questions and / or comments.

House Inspection Report by Sig Tom McSwiggan

Monday, April 21st, 2014
Built in approx. 1960, the foundation slab & supporting walls are made of poured concrete and cement cinder block. They appear to be in great condition with no major signs of weakness or structural flaws.
The framing of the wood floor joists and roof rafters is in acceptable condition but has evidence of past termite infestation but appears to have been properly treated and is no longer an issue. If a new roof is to be added to the north & south wing, replacement of some roof rafters and sheathing will be necessary at that time. At this time, the termite damage is a non-issue.
The main roof has a flat portion which appears to be relatively new and a sloped portion that consists of 3 tab shingles. Although the 3 portions with the shingles is older, it is in acceptable condition.
Both the north & south wings have 3 tab shingles that will need to be replaced in 7-10 years. The top ridge cap shingles & RIDGE VENTS NEED IMMEDIATE REPLACEMENT.
The main portion of the roof has less than adequate ventilation consisting of a thermostatically controlled electric attic fan(INOP) & soffit vents. The thermostat operation & startup temperature need to be checked for proper operation and settings. Both attic fans are INOP in the north and south wings and need to be checked for the same.
As previously mentioned, the ridge venting on the north and south wings is crushed, not letting the hot moist air flow out of the attic. This must be addressed by replacing the ridge vents.
The condition of the electrical system is good. The majority of the electrical system has been updated. There is no obvious signs of rats or mice eating the wiring. The biggest problem with the electrical system was the layer upon layer of new wiring that had been done with the old wires abandoned in place. This makes servicing any of the circuits an enormous pain in the ass!I I spent a lot of time removing abandonded wiring (sometimes live) from the house, pump room and under the deck as well as identifying and labeling circuits for future use / work.
Again, overall, the electrical system is good.
Interior- All of the interior lighting is now working except one light in the library. This will be fixed when I renovate the room for the new air handler. In the future, bulbs and exit signs should all be replaced with LED’s as practicable.
Exterior- All circuits have been identified and lights are up and running except for the rear parking lot lights. The housings for the rear lot lights are all broken and fill with water shorting out the units. I need some time to find LED style replacement units that fit the purpose. All bulbs are LED’s and use only 3-8 watts and have a life span of 25,000 hrs. The only exception to this are the large area light that require sodium bulbs in them.
I am requesting funds for 6 new lights for the rear parking area.
The plumbing in the house has been upgraded over the years, it is a majority copper tube (great) with a mix of some galvanized (not so good) and some pvc. plumbing
The waste lines in the house are cast iron with some PVC upgrades. They are in good repair.
Plumbing items that need attention: The main water line needs to be replaced (reroute in a more direct way), get rid of the old galvanized pipe, reroute the hot water heater pipes at the same time removing the galvanized pipe, replace the hot water heater considering newer types of systems.
The main water line from the driveway into the building needs to be replaced (BUT) consideration must be given to its routing and where it enters the building. The second consideration must be getting rid of the remaining old galvanized pipe. Galvanized pipe closes down overtime and breaks down from minerals in the water causing leaks without notice and or “flaking” that clogs faucets and fixtures.
Hot water heater is a commercial Rheem commercial unit model G-65-360A and is located in the laundry room. This is a 65 gallon natural gas unit that is 20 years old. The average lifespan of this unit is 7-8 years, so it has effectively lasted 3 times its expected life. The unit is showing tell-tale signs of failure- burn marks that turn to rust on the outside of the case.
The problem with this unit is not only its age but its placement in the laundry room, leaving a very long distance for the hot water to travel to get into the house and wings, losing heat along the way. We might be better off with two on demand units or a pipe rerouting to get the hot water into the house more effectively. This is recent technology that was not available in the past. The cost of the current hot water heater (*no labor) is approx. $8200. When it was brand new, the current water heater had an efficiency rating of 80% now it is probably down around 60%. The new hot water heaters have an efficiency of 97%!
I will be doing some masonry to frame out a proper doorway for the pump room and the laundry room.
The rat problem was caused by a contractor in the 80’s or early 90’s that had modified the house by building 3 chases up the side of the house to hide refrigerant lines and conduit. The chases went from the ground level all the way to the three different attics enabling the rats to enter at ground level and have a super highway into the house. I have removed 2 chases and modified a third. Another thing causing the rat problem was that the HVAC companies would put aluminum gutters over the refrigerant lines without properly sealing the top or bottom, again creating a direct pathway into the house for the rats. It is important that any future HVAC work be done properly to make sure we never have a rat problem again.
The windows are aluminum frames with clear glass. Some of the windows are in need of new tilt hinges and latches (checking availability). I believe that it would be beneficial to change the clear glass panes at least on the rear of the house to “low E” panes to reflect out the the “A-rays” to lessen the heat gain in the house. Whether we replace the complete window or just the panes will depend on the availability of latches and hinges for the existing units. Panes are about $95 each.
HVAC SYSTEM (heating,ventilation & air conditioning)
Upon arriving at the house, it was evident that something was wrong with the whole HVAC system. The house had 4 condensors /compressors (outside units) and 4 air handlers (the inside units that blow the cold air and house the filter). There was no airflow coming from the ducts- a definite flow problem. All 4 filters were completely plugged! This is bad because it causes ice blocks and equipment failure.
The unit for the first floor is a a carrier 2.5 ton straight A/C with electric heating strips installed in 2012 & is a 410a refrige system. (great).
The unit for the second floor is a 14 yr old American standard 3 ton heatpump that uses R-22 refrigerant. The refrigerant has leaked out and the unit needs immediate replacement.
The unit for the north wing is a 2009 Payne (carrier corp) straight A/C unit with electric heat strips. It has R-22 refrigerant. (good condition – wrong refrigerant).
The unit for the southwing is a 2010 Payne (carrier corp) and is a straight A/C with electric heat strips and is a 410A unit. (great).
The second floor unit could have been damaged by constant freezing which breaks the coils. It is not worth repairing because of its age, the cost of repair and the fact that R-22 is being phased out. The way the unit was installed in the closet also has caused a mold and mildew problem that must be rectified. A proper room with conditioned air needs to be built for the new unit. This needs to be done immediately.
During my inspection, it was noted that there is asbestos pipe wrapping in the north and south wing attics. Whether the house is renovated or sold, it will be necessary at some point to identify the asbestos and deal with it. The process begins with an asbestos survey by a licensed professional who takes samples throughout the house and reports his findings in 3 days time. Once we have the survey in hand identifying the materials containing asbestos, we can call in asbestos abatement contractors to give bids for its removal.
Having the inspector perform the survey DOES NOT obligate us to remove the asbestos, it only lets us know where it is and helps us make a decision as to how to deal with it.
The survey will cost approximately $2000.
It is an old inground cement pool that has direct suction line skimmers (as opposed to the trap door style). The pool has been modified over the years to accept the suction line and return lines.
This type of suction skimmer system is more susceptible to leakage at the skimmer themselves and underground lines.The pool company seems to think it’s leaking at the skimmers but I am not sure that they are correct. According to a couple of undergraduate brothers, they tell me that the skimmer line in the pump room pulls a lot of sand when they are turned on, this in my opinion tells me that one or more of the pipes might be broken underground.
The health/pool inspector has closed the pool until the leak is fixed and the chemicals are stable in the pool. As nice as they are on the phone, Blue Ribbon pools has continuously broken appointments this week.
Overall very good. Bedroom one has a broken exterior door jam.
The old oil tank under the north deck must be removed at some point.
It might behoove us to consider a wrought iron gate at the front side of the pass-through from the front yard to the rear deck.
I am looking into replacing the gate in the rear fence with one that locks and has a punch pad code for entry. This would take a lot of stress off of the front parking area.
Asbestos survey & estimates
Build new room for air handler, install new A/C on the second floor and install new aluminum capping on A/C line and soffits in rear of house.
Ridge vent on wings
Repair pool skimmer lines
Replace fence gate at rear with punch code lock.
Masonry & install doors on laundry & pump room.
Replace Rear windows – Low E
New water main
New door jam in room #1
Straighten flag pole
Photocell on backyard lights
Replace rear parking area light
Wash house and paint
No more walking on the roof, it damages it especially in the hot weather.
Filters in the A/C units must be changed regularly.
No more sigma chi letters or crosses out front, it looks gaudy.
No more labeling parking spaces it looks sophomoric.
Garbage cans are allowed in the kitchen again.
Remove asbestos
Hot water heater and replumb galvanized lines
Remove oil tank
Redo pool
New cement deck around pool
New wood deck and stair to second floor
Roofing on wings
We received 3 estimates for the new second floor air handler and condensor. The estimates were from. The three were asked to replace the 3 ton heat pump with a new carrier unit, install new refrigerant lines, move the new airhandler to a different room and prvide all the aluminum capping for the exterior refrigerant lines.
Jeff’s Mid Florida $6560
D.G.Meyer $6626
Total Comfort $8275
These estimates are pre-tax and considered approximate.
I will be accepting more bids this week.
To modify the room for the new air handler, I need a budget of $2500
The cost of materials (no labor) to date is $3443.06
Replaced ceiling tiles in kitchen & chapter room
New lights in kitchen
Replaced fire pull in kitchen
New light switch in kitchen
Removed waste disposal and installed 2 new strainer baskets in sink
Fixed front door closer
Replaced all HVAC filters
Wrote down all HVAC equipment serial and model numbers
Diagnosed second floor unit failure
Cleaned attic of 40 years of shit.
Cleaned library, Exec room, pump room & laundry
Room 22 – new shower valve and light switch
Removed Rat chases from the side of house and restucco’d
Removed a lot of wiring under deck, pump room, attics & D.J. deck
Traced circuits & labeled
Replaced blown lights w/ LED’s
Fixed pool lights
Fixed a lot of holes knocked in concrete in and out of the house.
Repaired fire wall in attic-so rats can’t get through
Pool-pump is fixed (Roger)
Found and fixed leaking PVC line
Traced down plumbing lines
Quick repair to DJ deck
Installed mirror in Exec bathroom and installed LED lights in Exec. Room
House Inspection Report
Prepared by
Thomas McSwiggan

The Eta Iota Chapter House is now completely on Central A/C

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Room 9 had the last wall mounted air conditioner. It was moldy and leaky to the bitter end… it shall not be missed.  DG Meyers is completing the final central A/C ducts for room 8 & 9 this month.  It has been a 3 year process to bring the entire chapter house to central A/C.  Hopefully this will reduce our on going maintenance costs and eliminate eye sores like the image below. The central A/C in the wings has reduced the actives electricity bill by $3k a year.




Ah the new wall:

House Corporation June / July 2011 Newsletter

Sunday, July 10th, 2011


Happy 4th of July Brothers and Happy 156th Birthday to Sigma Chi.  After taking a look at last month’s email, I realized I never sent out last month’s update.  So there are a number of things I must bring you up to speed on.  First, congratulations to everyone, especially the efforts in last year’s Board of Directors and Trustees on winning the 2011 Outstanding House Corporation Award.  Not only were we the only school in Florida but the only corporation in the South Eastern United States to be bestowed this honor.

Read this newsletter as a pdf


House Corp Udate – May 2011

Sunday, May 8th, 2011



It’s been a quiet month at our house.  We made some repairs to a few rooms to make them more appealing to the brothers living there.   Our house inspection went as well.  We’re now reviewing the critical issues that we plan on dealing with over the summer months.  Mostly smaller problems that have arisen from normal wear-and-tear.  For our usual summer projects; we’re currently getting bids on fixing the main house roof, central air for the main house, and fixing some drywall issues on the second floor.  As most of you know our roof on the main house is not in great shape.  We’ve had multiple leaks over the past several years, mostly stemming from the gable (pitch) of the roof and the drain itself.  If the bids are too high, we’ll discuss another patch for the roof until we have the capital to fix it properly the following year.

The housing commission is moving progressively forward.  Mike Wyble has agreed to see the commission through these first phases of planning for our future.  It is my understanding that the commission has made initial inquires with the school and realtors/land developers in the Daytona area.  For now that’s a start, but we need your help with the next part.  I’d like to hear from everyone about what they would find important in a new house, e.g., pool, dedicated chapter room, executive meeting space, commercial kitchen, deck space……help us plan for the future.  Please send your comments

We’ve also been slowly putting our records together from the past several years. Currently we’re putting proposals and reports together from 2008-2009 undergraduate academic years.  Our Secretary Phil and Trustee Jeff have volunteered to take on the task of auditing all this information and figuring out the costs.  Like I said previously, my hope is to make a transparent House Corporation while at the same time collecting data for the housing commission’s recommendations.

Hope everyone enjoys their upcoming month.  Happy Birthday to all those Brothers born in May.  Don’t forget; if you are planning on attending Grand Chapter in Dallas or BLTW at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – registration is currently open to all and I look forward to seeing you there.