How to Spot a Vancouver Leaky Condo From the Street

Leaky Condos are infamous in Vancouver, and rightfully so – they’ve cost homeowners, businesses and developers millions of dollars and caused heartbreak and frustration for almost twenty years. Here’s five minutes worth of reading that can save you countless hours of frustration.

Everything you need to know about Leaky Condos:

1). Leaky condos were built between 1982 and 1999. The building code changed around 2000 to require rain screens in stucco buildings.

2). Most leaky condos have stucco cladding. Stucco was popular during the Vancouver housing boom. The only problem is that it was installed face-sealed, which means it was installed tight against the building, with no cavity for water to drain from.

3). Leaky condos lack a rain-screen assembly: A rain-screen assembly is a thin cavity between the building and the stucco that allows air and moisture to flow – and not get held against the building to cause rot.

4). They kept being built because it took a long time for the problem to show up. By the time the industry realized what was going on, years had passed and thousands of buildings had been built with this faulty design.

5). Vancouver has high annual rainfall. This is key – in California there are many similar building designs – but with much less annual rainfall, their buildings tend to perform much better.

6). Problem buildings are easy to spot from the street. Take a look at the below photos.

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A condo with a partial rain screen

In the above picture we can see expansion joints with flashings on the right-hand wall, between the floors.

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A non rain screened elevation on the same building

In this picture we can see another wall from the same building – but no flashings.

The wall in the right side of the first photo has been rain screened. The wall in the second photo has not, and is face-sealed EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finishing System, also known as “Synthetic Stucco”)

This particular building had the east wall fail (and leak), but the strata elected to only remediate the one wall, instead of the entire building. However, this may be postponing the inevitable, as the other walls could eventually fail as well, and they will need to be repaired.

Rainscreening an entire building like this would cost millions of dollars, which will need to be paid by every owner. It is not uncommon to see strata owners have to pay enormous special levies for these types of projects.

Hopefully this article has helped you identify a rain-screened building. Knowing the difference will be beneficial when house-hunting in Vancouver.

 

Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has spent years working with Stratas on leaky condo 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!

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!

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