Normac’s Cam Carter Joins Quay Pacific’s Strata.Life Segment on CISL 650

On February 8th, 2017, Normac’s Cam Carter joined Drew Grout, Quay Pacific’s Director of Strata Services and Alex Limongelli, Public Sector Manager, BC at Waste Management Canada for a conversation on all things strata as part of the Experts on Call show series on CISL 650AM .

The overarching goal of Strata.Life is to provide accurate, timely information and expertise across the spectrum of strata property living:

  • Repair and maintenance expertise
  • Keeping interactions positive
  • Strata legal updates
  • Educational videos
  • Strata lifestyle
  • Strata governance
  • Information to help resolve conflicts

Watch the YouTube video below to gain expert insight on strata life and how to effectively manage it. For specific questions regarding Normac and our appraisals, depreciation reports and building science services, please email info@normac.ca.

 

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ4DOOdJ1GA[/embedyt]

Selling an Entire Strata Corporation, a Behind the Scenes Look

On November 17, 2016, Normac was pleased to partake in an event, Selling an Entire Strata Corporation, a Behind the Scenes Look, hosted by the REIC Greater Vancouver Chapter and IREM BC Chapter 50.  A packed room of real estate professionals, strata council members, and those with simply an interest in the subject matter listened to a panel of seven experts in various fields, each with a unique perspective on the process.  Moderated by Gina Arsens, REIC Greater Vancouver Chapter President-Elect and Normac Vice President, the panel took an in-depth examination of the challenges involved in selling an entire strata corporation.

Panel speakers included:

Jonathan Carter, Terra Law Corporation
Kelvin Coley-Donohue, Campbell & Pound Ltd.
Lance Coulson, Senior Vice President, CBRE
Mitch Cramp, Vice President, CBRE
Rene Cravioto, President of the Owners Council for Seymour Estates
Darren Donnelly, Clark Wilson LLP
Dan O’Hearn, President, Quay Pacific Property Management

Event attendees indicated that the unique perspective of each speaker resulted in a dynamic and extremely informative event. For more information on how to terminate a strata corporation, visit the BC government website at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/strata-housing/termination.

 

 

Calgary’s Building Maintainance Bylaw – In Effect January 1, 2017

Taken from the City of Calgary’s Website.  

Building Maintenance Bylaw

The City of Calgary’s Building Maintenance Bylaw will better protect the public by requiring the exterior of Calgary’s buildings to be visually assessed for necessary repairs every five years. It was approved by Calgary City Council on June 20, 2016.

The bylaw includes buildings that are five storeys or greater and over 10 years old, and will require visual assessments on building exterior walls and roofs. This allows The City to focus on the highest risk issues on the highest risk buildings first.

There will be a phased approach to bylaw implementation, where the oldest buildings must complete their visual assessments first. This will enable an efficient use of resources.

View the Building Maintenance Bylaw here. Please note that it comes into force on January 1, 2017. 

Why did we develop a Building Maintenance Bylaw?

This bylaw will fill the gap left after the final inspection when a building is first constructed or renovated, and address safety issues before they happen. While the Alberta Building Code states that a building owner may not allow an unsafe condition to be maintained, there is no clearly articulated requirement to maintain buildings. The bylaw aims to make that clear in Calgary.

In recent years, there have been several incidents of building materials and debris falling off of buildings in Calgary, particularly in the downtown core. The City has investigated many incidents related to falling debris, building cracks or collapse, and injury due to falling from windows. From these investigations, we know we can do more to help prevent safety issues connected to building maintenance.

November 2011 wind storm
Palliser Hotel, June 2015. Image: Pat Carroll/Global News

 

Deferred Repairs, Costly Future Expenditures

It is surely a welcoming development to see increasing awareness of building maintenance and repair requirements among strata  and condo owners. Having said that, it continues to be a constant challenge to convince the majority of the owners to agree on some necessary repairs or replacements, particularly if they are of larger magnitude.

Through our past and continuing interactions with thousands of strata and condo owners, we notice a common theme. “We will never get any repairs done until there is a major turnover of ownership”, “everyone just votes no, no, no to everything”, “no one wants to spend any money” are unfortunately some of the disheartening cries of many concerning owners wanting to protect one of the biggest investments of their lives.

Undoubtedly, it is unrealistic to expect owner approvals for repairs without conclusive evidence. To the credit of many strata and condo owners, they understand the necessity to obtain an assessment report to gain such evidence. However, far too often, we see owners acquiring an excessive number of inspection reports from various consultants for the same issues and optimistically expecting more favourable results. And to worsen the situation, the professional advice acquired by spending thousands of dollars is often ignored.

Unfortunately, many building issues like with rot and mould do not stand still in time. Deferred repairs are likely to promote further deterioration, resulting in repair costs that exceed the original estimates. While a strata or condo corporation is generally self-governed, extreme negligence to building repairs that may impact the safety or well-being of the occupants can be brought forth to the higher courts. The following article by Keith Fraser of the Vancouver Sun documents the story of a judge imposing a $16.8 million special levy on a Vancouver condominium.

A comprehensive understanding of the lifespan of a strata or condo’s building components is paramount to planning and saving for current and future expenditures.  Normac has a team of experienced engineers and building science specialists that can assist stratas or condos with building condition assessments and depreciation reports/reserve fund studies. For more information or to request a proposal, please email us at info@normac.ca or call us toll free at 1-888-887-0002.

Vancouver’s Newest Public Art Piece Revealed: An Insight into the Importance of Bylaw Knowledge

(Photo: Chad Pawson)

The importance of knowing and applying municipal bylaws in insurance appraisals cannot be overstated as they are crucial in the appraisal process.  This knowledge has an effect on the total insurable value and ensuring that a strata or condo corporation is insured to value.  In the case of a natural disaster, the additional costs must be accounted for in the replacement cost estimate, as it is the development owner’s responsibility. An appraiser’s review of the property must include an assessment of the current property composition compared to the current standards and regulations of the specific municipality and province in which it is located.

A recent example highlights the importance of this knowledge through Vancouver’s newest public art piece – a replica of Stanley Park’s 800 year old Hollow Tree monument coated in a gold finish. According to municipal bylaws, developments that exceed 100,000 square feet are required to contribute $1.98 per square foot for art installation approved by the City, which was the catalyst for this project. 

Another example of a municipal bylaw that significantly impacts an appraisal is parking requirements.  It is often the case that parking requirements have changed since the original property was built.   These changes must be incorporated into the appraisal in the event of a total loss.   For example, in the City of Vancouver, general parking requirements have diminished for newly constructed buildings.

Appraisals that rely on generic 3rd party software leave stratas and condos vulnerable and significantly exposed.  Having an experienced skill-set appraiser helps to manage risks by providing a written opinion of value in which a strata or condo can base their financial decisions. The appraiser’s value conclusions are based on prescribed methods, evaluation and research.

Click here to read the original CBC article by Chad Pawson, CBC News

At Normac, our 18 years of experience in the Vancouver market gives us in-depth knowledge of all bylaws, resulting in more accurate insurance appraisals. For more information on insurance appraisals or to request a free, no-obligation proposal, please contact us at 604-221-8258 or info@normac.ca.  

Broken Elevators Causes ‘Crisis’ All Over Canada

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

We came across an interesting article that highlights the concerns of Canadians over aging equipment and structural issues with faulty elevators. The maintenance and repair of elevators are becoming a major issue, especially in Canada’s largest cities. The result is not only the disruption and inconvenience to the residents, but the costs and lack of equipment needed to repair these elevators.

According to some elevator statistics in Ontario, the number of broken elevators and firefighter elevator rescues has increased substantially over the years due to population growth, an increasing aging population and a large increase in condos and apartments, especially in Toronto.

It appears that a handful of multinational companies controlling the industry are responsible for the lack of technicians and proper service. On top of that, about 1,550 of Ontario’s 18,000 residential building elevators are more than 25 years old, placing further strain on the already over-scheduled technicians.

In particular danger are elderly residents living in nursing homes. There have been multiple cases of the only elevators in the building breaking down and technicians not fixing the issue for months, leaving residents stranded on their floor, unable to take the stairs.

Click here to read the original CBC article by Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press.

If you are experiencing long wait times, overheating or frequent breakdowns of your elevator, our Certified Reserve Planners and Engineering Professionals can help you by preparing you for these costs with a Depreciation Report. For more information on Depreciation Reports & Reserve Fund Studies, email info@normac.ca or call us at 604-221-8258.

Woodpeckers Hammer Kelowna Condominium with Costly Repairs

 (Photos: Keith Eisenkrein / Caroline Csak)

We came across an interesting article that highlights the damages to a 17 floor condominium building in Kelowna caused by woodpeckers.  Northern flicker woodpeckers have been rapping at the building’s siding panels for several years.   The result is not only damage to the building but hundreds of holes that welcome other birds to burrow and build their nests for their young.

The widespread presence of birds and their accompanying droppings has deterred many owners and residents from using their balcony decks, which is disappointing particularly given the spectacular nature of  Kelowna summers.   Now fed up with the birds, the strata council has elected to repair the damages and prevent this from happening again to the chirp of an estimated  $260,000.

Click here to read the original CBC article by Brady Strachan.

Repairs and replacements such as those experienced by the above strata can be minimized if caught and addressed in a timely manner.  For more information on Building Condition Assessments, email info@normac.ca or call us at 604-221-8258.

Determining the Age of Foundations in Multi-Resident Buildings

By Liam Bailey, BSc. Eng. (Hons) in Construction Engineering and Management
Depreciation Report Planner

While doing depreciation reports, reserve fund studies or building condition assessments, we often get asked how we can determine the age of a building component by looking at it. Although not without aberrations, there are some tell-tale signs that indicate the age and the remaining life of features such as windows, claddings and veneers, roofs and fencing. Architectural styles and innovations in manufacturing will also have an influence on how long certain components may last.  We have written a series of articles explaining what signs we look for to determine age and remaining lifespan for our depreciation reports, reserve fund studies, or building condition assessments.  This article of this series talks about determining the age of foundations in Strata and Condo Corporations.

Foundations

Typically and as expected, foundations should last the life of a building provided the appropriate design specifications have been met. Since the early 1900’s foundations have adapted from a combination of brick, stone, rubble and concrete to primarily reinforced concrete today. Often, a visual review of a building’s foundations are not possible due to their concealed location below grade. Therefore determining when the building was constructed by reviewing as-built construction drawings is often the only way to determine the specification, materials, and age of the foundations.

In some cases isolated repairs are necessary to ensure the foundations remain in functional condition throughout their life. These may include drain tile repairs to protect the foundations from flooding during times of high precipitation and below grade damp/water proofing membrane repairs to mitigate moisture gaining access to habitable areas.

Considering the majority of a building’s foundations are buried beneath the ground, signs of structural defects are not visible until an issue arises within the superstructure.

There are some things that we look for during our reviews to give us indications of issues that may be present including, but not limited to, bowing, bulging, or leaning of the foundation walls, concrete spalling, and significant vertical, horizontal or stepped cracks which may appear outside the typical building settlement cracking.

photo 3
Photo 1: Early 1900’s foundation wall consisting of a brick course overlying a concrete strip foundation.
photo 2
Photo 2: Note the presence of a waterproofing course installed along the exterior of the below-grade foundation walls.
photo 1
Photo 3: Typical with today’s construction practices, the Interior side of reinforced concrete foundation walls and columns viewable from within the parkade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAMA Education Seminar: Handling Hazardous Materials – Duties for Property Managers

On June 15, 2016, Normac proudly sponsored PAMA’s Education Seminar, Handling Hazardous Materials – Duties for Property Managers.  Dave Garrett, WorksafeBC Senior Occupational Hygienist, spoke to sold out crowd of property managers and industry professionals.  His presentation included an overview on common dangerous materials and their health effects, regulations as mandated by the Workers Compensation Act, and resulting responsibilities property mangers face in these risk situations.

For the full PowerPoint presentation, click here.