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Multi-housing Developments



February 24, 2009 – Comments (4)

Vancouver has far, far more multi-housing developments being built and a house with a yard is simply not a reality for most people there these days.

Multi-housing developments have a whole host of problems associated with them and this story is absolutely horrible for how it has gone for the one owner, forced sale of his home and on the hook for a couple hundred thousand in bills that ought to have been shared with the other owners.

My second home was bought brand new and within a year or two we had a rot problem with the balcony.  I ended in charge of the project to get our balconies repaired and I do not have even slightly fond memories for some of the crap from the other owners.  We put tons of work and research into what we were doing and we had to get a majority vote to go ahead, however, a strata has a responsibly to keep properties maintained and from what I understood we had an obligation to actually take the nay-sayer owners to court to get the repairs ordered.  What you have a choice in as owners is how the repairs are done, not whether the repairs are done, at least that was how I understood the strata law.  It is interesting how differently the judge in the above link interpreted the law.

Anyway, with our rot problem we had one total idiot that rallied other owners to vote against the repair plan we had and we had to have another meeting two months later.  We had proxies and such so we couldn't just have a revote at the original meeting, but I really blew up when they voted the repairs down and laid out how I saw strata responsibility and would we as owners be meeting in court next time.  Most did not really understand that homes must maintain reasonable repair and it was just this one idiot spreading mis-information.

We were so lucky, we were one inch of rot from a $200k repair bill becoming a $500k repair bill.  I felt physically ill when the repair were under way and I inspected how close our balcony rot problem came to being a building envelope rot problem.  The rot problem was so bad in some of the balconies that when we saw the shingles removed we issued warning to owners that had not yet had their balconies repaired to stay off them.  

So, just wait and see what happens with these multihousing developments when it is time to tear them down.  You think all owners are going to be in a financial position to want that at the same time?


4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM, ByrneShill (82.62) wrote:

Judges don't necessarily have good judgements.

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#2) On February 25, 2009 at 5:39 PM, buildgreen (< 20) wrote:

This is why your building envelopes need to be made of durable materials. Ever heard of ICFs. It is critical in shared units to make the construction high quality.Weve done a few in CA.. only way id be willing to construct something with the issues facing a multi project.


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#3) On February 25, 2009 at 9:04 PM, dwot (29.15) wrote:

Building code was responsible for much of the "condo rot" problems we faced in BC.  I was very fortunate in that it was only the balconies where I was.  There were homeowners in BC that faced assessments of $50-60k in some developments.  There was one guy who started a group lobbying for coverage and he called the group "condo rot."  His $600k unit at the time, 1993, needed between $100-200k of repairs and it was new.

I had the problem in my second home around 96 and they changed code to require plastic to protect from water, only you'd have to use dry wood and make sure there were not any possible entry points for that to work.  Well, most wood is wet enough to rot when homes are build, and plastic over fresh wood can be a problem alone.  It just so happened the morons stapled the plastic in and the design had many seams that water could get inside from and it could not get out.

We found a guy who knew the properties of wood and talked about wood as a living thing and how it responded to moisture changes and such.

Get this, we paid an engineer $6k to redesign our balconies, and it just so happened we were the dilegent owners that discovered the problem and we were also the home that we did a test repair following the engineer's design.  

Well, things can go slow on a strata and the rest of the testing and plan for repairs was not started a year later, but we did an inspection and the report said there was a rot problem with my balcony.  

Here's the thing, I think this guy had just rubber stamped a previous report and had done a bad inspection because my balcony had just been repaired.  Well, our overpriced engineer's design rotten in a year, and the worker, whom I would not want to devalue at all, soaked us for $25k to implement that design for a double balcony system.  $31k flushed down the toilet.

I haven't heard of ICFs.

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#4) On February 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM, ByrneShill (82.62) wrote:

Hmm, if some engineer/contractor made me waste 31k$ I'd bring their devalued bottom into a court of law so fast his head would spin.

P.S. If you're even just mildly suspicious about the engineer rubber stamping a plan without diligent work, take him into court of complain at the BC board of engineers. Unlike any other professions, engineers have the burden of the proof on their shoulders (making it much easyer for ordinary people to win their cases), and every engineer must be insured for professional mistakes, so the odd of being repaid in case you win is almost 100%.

If he inspected the contracter's job he's also responsible for the bad job of the contractor. He can't use the "my design was good but the contractor messed up" excuse.

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