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Real Estate


Your condo’s window walls could cost six figures to maintain

(Image: Jim Crocker)

(Image: Jim Crocker)

It’s already common knowledge that window walls—those enormous floor-to-ceiling windows that are so ubiquitous in new Toronto condos—have a relatively short lifespan. The windows have internal seals that degrade over time, meaning they have to be replaced periodically. Experts have estimated the lifespan of the average window wall at between 20 and 35 years.

Condo sales remain brisk, and so it would seem that many Toronto buyers consider eventual window failure to be a small price to pay. Except, it turns out the price may not be so small, after all.

The Star spoke with University of Waterloo civil engineering and architecture professor Jim Straube, who estimates that the cost of replacing a single unit’s windows walls could be more than $100,000. Straube admits that his numbers are just projections, and could prove to be inaccurate. “Technology may offer slick solutions and reduce this cost,” he told the Star. “We just have little experience.” (It’s also important to differentiate “window walls” from glass “curtain walls.” The two types of glazing have different wear properties.)

A good condo board could set aside enough maintenance-fee money to take some of the sting out of replacing a building’s worth of window walls, but it’s worth bearing in mind that some spectacular views have a hidden price tag.

  • WEW

    “Straube admits that his numbers are just projections, and could prove to be inaccurate.”

    Sounds like your perfect politician right there! 100k for 1 window is ludicrous and anyone with proper knowledge of contracting would know that it wouldn’t cost that much. Unless you’re saying that my condo with 9 window walls is now worth 900k + my purchase price, I’ll take it! But seriously, do the math….

  • niftytastic

    I think you have confused the wording of “can cost $100k to replace” with “currently worth $100k”. They said $100k to replace which would likely include labour, it’s not just the product itself (and even if so, labour costs is something to consider) Anyone with proper knowledge of contracting would know labour for replacing windows or giant windows in this case in a giant glass tower wouldn’t be like labour in replacing windows in a house.
    By your logic, anything that has to be replaced down the road for $xx amount is a positive asset for your place, which it isn’t.

  • WEW

    lol yes I did that intentionally, I’m aware of labour and material costs which I still do not think would cost 100k. But I guess we will wait and find out ;)
    The last part was only for humour and not logic, obviously it would not raise the value in any place.

  • Joseph

    What a ridiculous estimate. maybe 100k including mobilization cost for 1 unit. If all the units are being done i really doubt it would be 100k/unit. stick to teaching bud.

  • icm710

    If the professor’s numbers are estimating the future cost (eg. 20 to 30 years down the road) one must also estimate 20 to 30 years of condo maintenance fees and the proportional contribution to the reserve fund(s), which will also be comparably huge in the future. I seriously doubt we have a disaster in the making as the article seems to allude.