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Real Estate


The Star’s Vertical Toronto series ends with a ThreatDown-esque list

With most of the onerous socioeconomic number crunching out of the way, the Toronto Star ended its three-part series on condo life with a list of the risks apartment dwellers face. The paper has the skinny on exploding-glass balconies (nickel sulphide), how long it takes to escape a burning building (from the 50th floor, six to 12 minutes), a breakdown of the birds that end up splattered against high-rise windows (531 golden-crowned kinglets met glass in 2005) and what happens when a skyscraper gets hit by lightning (for the CN Tower, that’s 75 times a year), among other fun facts you may or may not want to know. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

  • Haytham Maki

    What did we learn from BC’s leaky condos? Will Toronto be next?

    The construction industry is in denial of the amateurish practices we encounter in commercial buildings.
    Let’s not forget that similar practices were at the heart of the leaky condos claims in BC, Canada, years ago. The Toronto “Star’s” series “ Vertical Toronto” brought to Torontonians so many legitimate concerns many industry experts already knew or should have known very well. The issues of inefficient building performance, unsuitability of building materials, lack of capacity of existing infrastructures, negative social and environmental impacts on local neighbourhoods, etc. have always been debated among construction experts but mediocre practices remained the norm.

    In the last two decades, the majority of developers and designers took a very shortsighted path. The desire to sell a fancy product was paramount, regardless of its suitability to our environment. This approach was hard to resist given the opportunities offered by a hot real estate market.
    If we recall exactly what happened in BC, Toronto may potentially face a worse scenario where the improper choice and assembly of building materials may lead to a premature failure of the building envelope they hold. In the best scenarios, key components of a building envelope will reach the end of their life cycle sooner than what building owners expect. The financial impact will be so significant that many property owners may face unexpected financial burdens to repair their buildings.

    As the “Star” noted, there is an excessive use (I call it abuse) in selecting unsustainable building materials mainly glass walls, or curtain wall systems as known in the construction industry. There is also a complete lack of appreciation of how these materials should be assembled. The “Star’s” series provided some alternate methods to deal with glass panel installations. However, the glass problem is only the shiny tip of the iceberg. The leaky condos problem in BC was mainly attributed to the use/misuse of stucco, but the problem also showed that the whole industry was at fault. That included the applicable codes, design and construction practices, inspection and liabilities, etc. There were certainly many lessons learned from that experience and some industry organizations took some series actions to alert their members to these potential problems. However, industry professionals need to keep in mind that although that our buildings may perfectly meet applicable codes, pass inspection and look great! there is always a moral obligation that requires us to provide a safe and sustainable environment for building users. That’s where our social responsibility really comes into play.

  • Rajesh

    Thansk for the cnomemt Jay. For those in the know, Jay works for RE/mAX Crest in Vancouver and has a great blogging site about the Vancouver market.