We’re still building leaky condos

We received this PDF from Robert Funk, a building technologist who specializes in four story wood frame envelope failure.

Robert says that despite the Leaky condo crisis across the lower mainland we’re still building condos that will have water problems.

Here’s an excerpt and a few pictures from the PDF, download the full PDF here for the complete story.

“The way we’ve always done it”

Written by Robert Funk

Leaky Condo remediation has come a long way in the last decade. In the last decade we have realized what a mess has been made and covered up in the walls of our homes. There are countless stories of heart break caused by financial devastation. First you purchase a home that you can afford and make payments on for the next 25 years in which time your building falls apart. Then comes the infighting of strata and owners, some for some against remediation. You pay a large sum of money, usually more than your original savings and down payment. Then for the next 18 months you live like a hostage under a tarp with loud apelike construction workers climbing in and out of your windows and banging on your walls. Welcome to Home Owner Hell.

I’m a building technologist and I specialize in Four Story Wood Framed Envelope Failure. This means I take buildings apart for a living. Things have changed allot, Rain screen,we discovered was used on 100 year old houses, (we never had to take them apart so it took a long time to discover this). Many more things have changed but some things have stayed the same and some have gotten even worse.

For years (at least 28) electricians have been installing Type 1 interior rated outlet boxes (electrical enclosures) on the outside walls of wood framed buildings. When I ask the electrical inspector about the box, they tell me “It’s ok because it is still inside”. Wow, the Type 1 box is inside the wall, so if and when (always when) the cladding, electrical cover or electrical cover gasket fails, the water now runs directly into the wall cavity. When I tell the inspectors this they say “It is not an electrical issue if the building leaks, talk to the building department”. I do and I have for five years and guess what, the building departments say “electrical box, electrical problem”.

That is just the tip of the Iceberg, here comes the really exiting parts and well some really boring code parts. Let’s get the really boring code references out of the way first.

  •   CEC = Canadian electrical code 22nd Edition 2012
  •   BCBC= British Columbia Building Code
  •   NRC=National Research Councel
  •   Electrical Safety Act 1998
  •   CSA= Canadian Safety Association

Order of rules and regulations

1. CEC 2-024 Approved electrical equipment
2. CEC 2-100 Approval markings
3. CSA C22.2 No. 18.2-6 Test for electrical boxes
4. Safety Standards Act BC Reg. 186/2009
5. Wet Location
6. Rule 2-400 Types of enclosures (boxes)
7. Rule 2-402 Markings for Wet Location boxes
8. Rule 12-3020 Basic rules for Damp Location boxes
9. Rule 26-702 Boxes exposed to weather
10. CEC Part 1 Sec 0 Page 7. Definition of Wet Location
11. CEC Table 65 Page 365, Enclosure Type, 1 through 6P
12. Rule 18-106(5) IP introduction
13. CEC Appendix B Page 441 Ingress Protection Rating
14. Rule 2-124 With reference to BCBC and building protection
15. BCBC Part 9 Section 9.25.3.2.6 Penetration of exterior walls
16. BCBC Part 9 Section 9.27.2.1 Building code Exterior walls

These are the three points that need to be changed and the code to back it up.

Non certified light mount over type 1 box. 4th floor, east facing. There were 14 lights on this 9 year old building.

1).The most basic rules of the CEC, in simple language states that all components in an electrical system must be certified (Rule 2-024). Certification is done by a company that is accredited by CSA. Electrical equipment is defined as any apparatus that is part of, connected too or near an electrical system of any kind. The Electrical Safety Act 1998 states Non Certified electrical products may not be displayed for more than 14 days or be sold or installed. These boxes must be tested to CSA C22.2 and pass.

2).The Types of electrical boxes vary from Type 1 for interior regular locations, Type 4 for exterior walls, Type 6P for under water locations. Ingress Protection (IP) is a rating that defines where a box can be installed.

3)The building code and electrical codes dance with each other when it comes to maintaining the Air Barrier and maintaining the Fire Barrier.

This is what has gone wrong and needs to stop.

This is a Typical Type 1 box installed inside and outside. Not much damage to the building but the water ingress rusted the nails and the plug. The plug started to short out because it was so rusted. Not to worry, Leaky Condos don’t burn down, nope, too wet.

The electrician installs a TYPE 1 (interior rated enclosure) outlet box inside the insulated wall cavity. Rule 2-400 of the CEC says all electrical enclosures on an exterior wall must be Type 4, IP44 or say “Wet Location”.The box they install is only rated interior so that’s why they put the box in the wall.Next the siding contractor installs one of several different, cheap, not legal (as defined by Rule 2-024 CEC) extension boxes (CSA C22.2 No.18.2-06).

The electrician cannot remove the extension box because the siding is already on, so he just uses 3 inch wood screws and puts the plug and cover on.I have lots of pictures of the rot that occurs when the wood screws loosen, snow piles up or rain comes down and leaks rite into the wall cavity. Outside lights are even better because the light is heavy so when the #8 wood screws loosen, the light leans forward and now it works like a funnel. Note: plug screws are #6-32 and lights are #8-32.

Don’t understand why they are still doing things this way?

Welcome to The birthplace of leaky condos.

“But that’s the way we have always done it”

Here’s the full PDF with more pictures and relevant building code.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Vote Down The Facts
Guest
Vote Down The Facts

10 points to anybody who reads this the whole way through.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

China’s answer to subprime bets: the “Golden Elephant”

(Reuters) – The Chinese investment vehicle known as “Golden Elephant No. 38” promises buyers a 7.2 percent return per year. That’s more than double the rate offered on savings accounts nationally.

Absent from the product’s prospectus is any indication of the asset underpinning Golden Elephant: a near-empty housing project in the rural town of Taihe, at the end of a dirt path amid rice fields in one of China’s poorest provinces.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/06/us-china-banks-idUSBRE87501T20120806

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@Vote Down The Facts: stupid bears will read the whole way through. it’s the only way to kill time!

midnite toker
Member
midnite toker

After reading this I don’t think I’ll ever want to own a condo. We need to get mike Holmes on this!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

The land keeps appreciating so who cares.

patriotz
Member
@midnite toker: You mean Mike Holmes, the bubble denier? CB: So even if the average value of homes dips, there will still be demand for renos? MH: Yes. Worst-case scenario is like what we saw in the ’80s. People might slow down projects or wait a little longer to start, but the truth is work needs to be done. But I don’t see a repeat of the ’80s happening. Canada is very good when it comes to issuing home loans. People are not being loaned more than the value of a house and that’s the thing that really made things drop in the States. Obviously, if there is another global recession, or depression, there will be a negative impact. But to what degree is anyone’s guess. What made prices drop in the US is that market prices were simply too… Read more »
Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I love this blog..we all live here cause it’s so amazing but then find weird ways to complain about it..or some weird way to get real estate to become affordable. If you guys can’t afford to buy then just rent. Spend your time making more money than wasting time here and never being able to afford to buy.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@Vote Down The Facts: Yeah man, why bother getting informed or trying to change things? That sounds like too much work!

Just go out and buy a condo and get another loan when the repair assessment comes in, that’s the way we do it here right?

Nex
Guest
Nex

@Jeff: i don’t live in vancouver, but I read this site for the same reason I read the US bubble blogs. The insanity is entertaining. I just heard of someone who bought a house in east van with 7 other people! Dude, you’re signing up for a mortgage with roommates? Yeah that ought to work out, good luck with that!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I just called Vancouver amazing and got foreclosed on!?

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Vancouver sucks 🙂

Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs
Guest
Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs

@Nex: I agree. I think it’s crazy that roommates would purchase property together. I’ve had lots of roommates in my day and it never seems to work out. I can’t imagine being stuck to a roommate for 25 years for a mortgage!

Vancity Credit Union actually has a mortgage product specifically designed for roommates. It’s called the “mortgage mixer”. From the Vancouver Sun:

“Vancity also has a “mixer mortgage” where roommates can go together to buy a home they wouldn’t be able to buy otherwise. ‘It also works well for parents and children, because the parents can own part of the home as an investment, while it helps the child get into the market,’ McKinley said. “It definitely helps people get into the market younger.'”

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/mortgages/home+buyer+bonus+sure+spur+first+timers+mortgage+expert/6302642/story.html

Chabar
Guest
Chabar

@Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs:

They would eagerly sell the heavy drugs if they could to make a profit.

VMD
Member

[Anecdote from Chinese RE Forums]
This recent immigrant just had a home inspection. The home inspector said business now is down 80% vs last year, even worse than 2009.
“Most locals who can buy already bought”. Business is so slow he took some time off for vacation.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie

@Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs: No way banks would go near that product without the CMHC backing it up. Those mortgages are almost guaranteed to implode, and if the value of the property has dropped – lookout.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@Jeff: they all bitched about Van and yet only one guy moved to ottawa!

patriotz
Member

@Eddie:
Their FAQ doesn’t mention it, but I’m sure that VanCity and CMHC would require “joint and several” liability from all the borrowers. What that means is that the lender has the right to go after the full balance from any of the borrowers upon default. So go ahead, put your financial future in the hands of your buddies.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@patriotz: Smart. More pockets to get the money back out of in the end. I can see why they would push these mortgages out to groups of people stupid enough to take them.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie

@patriotz: So they all have to claim BK or they go after the ones that don’t? Interesting.

Sadly I now expect violent assaults to increase with our crash…

HFHC
Guest
HFHC

Does anyone else find this site hard to read on the ipad?

pricedoutfornow
Guest
pricedoutfornow

@VMD:

Everyone who could buy already bought. Except me!

rp1
Guest
rp1

Need bumper sticker: “I’m voting liberal because I hate them.”

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@ HFHC

I think the designers want the advertising to stay visible on the screen which leaves a more limited area for comments.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
The other thing to note in photos is the OSB plywood used (the rotten part). Most new houses and condos today are built out of OSB in BC. The stuff works fine until it gets wet. Then it goes moldy, rots and falls apart very easily. Not a good feature to have in a wet environment and in any building for that matter. Any flood or leak or humidity problem will cause major damage. There is no comparison to plywood getting wet which still holds up very well. The thing is OSB only cost a few dollars per sheet less but makes the whole building junk. So builders save maybe a few thousand on a large house to use OSB. Once it is built you cant change it. For anyone looking for a house or condo don’t touch the ones… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@Anonymous: “I think the designers want the advertising to stay visible on the screen which leaves a more limited area for comments.”

It is about as effective as pop ups. It means you don’t visit the site and that is not good for advertising.

wpDiscuz