Leaky Condo House – Can a Vancouver Home Have Stucco Leak Problems?

Hi, it’s home inspector David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Home Inspections. One of the questions I get asked a lot is can a house have leakage problems similar to a leaky condo, like a Vancouver leaky condo? And the answer is yes. The concepts are the same, it’s a lot more rare to have a leaky condo house but I can show you some of the things to look for because it does happen in the ’80’s and ’90’s builds which you are about to see. This building is on the west side of Vancouver and they actually had a lot of rot and leakage problems, so if you want to come with me I’m going to show you what we look for.

So here we have a house that’s covered in stucco, it’s not a rain screen building, it’s a face sealed building which means the stucco is right on the wood and if any water gets back there, it’s going to cause rot in the sheeting, you can see a lot of repairs. When we come inside, we look around the windows, a lot of moisture stains, almost every window on one side of the house had leaked and rotted. A lot of dry wall damage, here we can see wrinkles in the drywall, you can actually see the water was running the wall, very hard to cover this up and paint over it. Here we’ve got a, you can see the seams, a lot of these leaky condos leaked at these joints, so everywhere you have a direction change or a control joint they will leak. This one though it was actually the flashing was making the water run into the window which basically rotted the top of the window and we can see there’s a lot of water damage around the base of the walls, even this door here. You can see that there’s some wall rot and you don’t want to touch this, it’s actually quite brittle. Here there’s some damage above the door, they’ve actually tried to install an awning above the door to protect it, but you’re just putting extra screws through the stucco and you don’t want to do that with these buildings.

This is another building from Coquitlam and it’s similar age and it’s exhibiting a lot of rot and moisture related issues. We can see the glass block windows, there was a lot of water getting in around those. This corner here the stucco, wherever it cracks you have to seal it right away. If you don’t seal it right away you get water behind the stucco. It will not vent and drain properly. Vancouver stays wet for a long period of time and you can’t, it just won’t naturally drain or dry out. One of the things about this particular house is it’s tall and there is no overhang from the roof so it’s a Vancouver leaky condo style house and of course, the east wall is always the worst which we’re going to see in a moment here. This is the east wall, we see a lot of rust staining around the control joint which is very bad, that usually means that the stucco, the lath, metal lath behind the stucco is actually rusted and it indicates a serious water ingress problem. There is damage to the meters, the electrical meters as well. This leak actually started at the roof where there was a poor flashing detail where the roof meets the wall and it actually ran down two stories and ended up, we found rot along the bottom of the wall. Now one of the issues with acrylic stucco is that it’s designed to be waterproof but it’s waterproofed the wrong way so it traps water and won’t allow it to aspirate out and you can see the staining, it’s in very poor condition. Inside there was was a lot of drywall damage, I always point out that these houses can be really bad from mold. If you have a mould problem from behind the walls, very difficult to remediate these houses.

As you can see, it is possible to have a leaky condo house and hopefully that helped you with identifying some of the signs that you have an issue with, a potential house that you’re thinking about buying. The best thing you can do is have a professional inspection done. We service the whole lower mainland. We can be reached at 604-395-2795 or on the web at vancouverinspections.com. Thanks for watching.

About the Author DavidFairbairn

Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has been featured in the media and has contributed to "24" Newspaper, and Global TV. He has spent years working with residential and commercial building projects, and holds a Power Engineering License in BC. Why not give him a call for your next Home Inspection? Call 604 395-2795 or email david@fairbairninspections.com today!

follow me on: