Canadian Consulting Engineer

Leaky condo crisis flares up again

The Leaky Condo crisis that beset the Vancouver area a decade ago has flared up again, with the call by new Conserv...

March 6, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Leaky Condo crisis that beset the Vancouver area a decade ago has flared up again, with the call by new Conservative MP John Cummins for the government to hold a federal inquiry into the role of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Documents reportedly have been uncovered that suggest that CMHC knew about problems with condominiums and rain penetration as early as 1981.

So far, the B.C. Homeowner Protection office has paid $350 million to over 11,000 homeowners who suffered from water penetration through the walls and roofs of their new condominium units. Most of the problems were in low-rise buildings, often those built with stucco cladding systems.

Designers blamed poor construction methods and point out that contractors often went bankrupt and disappeared off the scene, leaving the professionals to handle the repercussions. After the extent of the crisis became known, insurance companies refused to give coverage to architects and building envelope designers in the province.

A group of leaky condo owners with bills of $5,000 to $100,000 for repairs have already filed a statement of claim for a proposed class action lawsuit against CMHC in the B.C. Supreme Court. The CMHC has denied “each and every allegation of fact.”

In an article in the Globe and Mail, James Balderson, a spokesman for the Coalition of Leaky Condo Owners, said they supported the call for a federal enquiry. He also said that while CMHC failed to adequately warn the homebuyers, it was not responsible for the problem.

Balderson is quoted as saying: “The responsibility lies with the developers, the designers, the construction subcontractors and in some municipalities with municipal governments that did no, or faulty, building inspections.”


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