Paul Toffoli Vancouver BC REALTOR®

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Leaky Condos – What Are They And How Can I Avoid Buying One?

The following is my personal understanding of “leaky condos”.  


Leaky condos are typically described as apartment or town-home buildings that were built between 1982 and 2002. (I have heard people refer to earlier end dates, but my understanding is that 2002 was the year that the building code changed , and the Rain Screening solved the majority of water ingress problems). 


The leaky condo era began in or around 1982, when the building code changed to a much more energy efficient one.  Buildings were wrapped tight in plastic sheeting, and other measures were taken, so that there was limited air exchange between the exterior and interior of buildings, leading to less heat loss.


An  unintended side-effect of these changes, was that moisture that entered the buildings envelope did not escape, or dry out due to heat leaving the buildings, as it had under the previous building code.


In addition, exterior water proofing relied on “face sealed”  cladding systems.  Buildings are designed so that the exterior cladding keeps water out.  With a face sealed system,  unless there is excellent construction, excellent maintenance, and no cracks, or gaps in the cladding, history has taught us that water will enter the structure.  Water entered around windows, through cracks, and up beneath flashings.  The rainy west coast proved to be too much of a challenge for many face sealed cladding systems, especially when strata corporations often were not doing the caulking and other required maintenance that would have improved the situation.


Be aware that single family homes built during this time period, can also experience many of the same envelope issues as leaky condos.


Steps that one can take to avoid buying a leaky condo, include the following:

  • Be especially careful when looking at buildings built between 1982 – 2002, but also be aware that many of these buildings have been remediated, and have had full “Rain Screen” installed to the current building code.  These remediated buildings can be as good as buildings built after 2002. 
  • Use the services of an experienced Realtor who is familiar with construction practices and  building codes, and can identify the signs  a leaky condo. 
  • Hire a knowledgeable, licensed building inspector to inspect any prospective purchase. 
  • Read strata documents carefully, and if you have questions or concerns, ask pointed questions to the Strata Council, and / or the management company.

Paul Toffoli, mba





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