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 Penetration of exterior walls
16. BCBC Part 9 Section 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.

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[…] catch(err){}; We had a post a little while back about one of the reasons we see so many leaky condos around here: Improper installation of the wrong electrical boxes on exterior […]


what is missing is the catalyst! things are slow enough to drive prices down 50%. but will make this market affordable?


@Conrad: “Where is the fuel to drive this crash coming from?”

In my view the greatest risks to the downside are (in no particular order):
1) Geographically-weighted loan tightening required under new mortgage underwriting guidelines
2) Slower population growth than in past years
3) A marked slowdown in Asian economies

I would not bet on higher rates any time soon but there is nonetheless a risk of them rising.

Any of these will manifest through high inventory and low sales, which is highly positively correlated with price drops. That these lackadaisical conditions exist now are not a good sign and a necessary precursor to a prolonged bear market.

Some things to consider. While some may not want prices to drop it is unlikely in their power to prevent drops if these events occur.

Vote Down The Facts


Low foreclosure rate, too.


” only thing that might be missing from this picture for you, if you have indeed been following things, is popcorn.”

no what is missing is the catalyst. We have low unemployment in Vancouver, and VERY low interest rates. Where is the fuel to drive this crash coming from?

If you are old enough to have lived through a crash you will know that right now doesn’t have that feel at all. Just not enough pressure on household balance sheets to cause that, plain and simple


@Vote Down The Facts: Yes, they do happen but it takes a special kind of logic to raise the price on something that isn’t selling.

Navin R. Johnson

The folks still buying are ones that are cashing in on “price changes” … In other words “price declines.” This’ll be reflected in the stats in due time (fall). Little do they know… They think they’re getting a deal…and the correction continues 🙂


@Conrad: Conrad you have got to be kidding. Its true that this correction/crash has been called for years however now the only thing that might be missing from this picture for you, if you have indeed been following things, is popcorn.


does anyone know why Garth thinks it would take 5 months for the mortgage rules to affect the sales data?


What a fascinating discussion about plywood. You guys are like a big barrel of monkeys! So much fun!



You’re dreaming. I hope your mortgage isn’t too high… you are going to get destroyed when the market plunges.


If the building envelope does its job, then the sheathing material (whether OSB or plywood) will do its job, which is simply providing shear or lateral strength for the wall. If the building envelope fails, the sheathing material will get wet and rot given time, and the difference would not be more than a couple of years.

Vote Down The Facts


As I understand it price increases do happen, just not that often.


“We could have 1000 sales today, but if they are all at low prices, then it doesn’t matter. Sales need to go UP for prices to come DOWN. So maybe that is finally happening”

No that’s just not the way markets work. You need lower sales volumes for a lot longer than a few months to have prices come down in a substantial way.

I have been reading these blogs casually since VHB in 2005/2006. its now 7 years later and I don’t see anything substantial just around the corner. we might gain and lose the same 10% for a while but that’s about it. With a 5-year under 3 percent? where is the glut of new product on the market? (wasn’t that supposed to be yaletown park btw..how did that work out?)


@Vote Down The Facts: The idea of any of those price changes being increases is hilarious.

“Hmm.. My condo has been on the market for months and nobody is interested, better increase the price!”


ok lets get serious then. Even if prices were to drop 50% would they still make any sense? I personally don’t think so. Prices have moved up so much that it would take a 70% drop for them to become attractive again. So why even bother sitting around waiting for this 50% drop when even then most of us would consider that only fair market value.


Welcome Jeff!

It’s refreshing to see mindless bulls and pumpers back.

Many of us complained that it was way too quiet.


Doesn’t really matter how many price changes there are, the new listings are priced $500, $600, $700, $800 per foot! The sellers are making out like bandits with huge profits.



Now Garth has over 1200 people signed-up…..

“It must be terminally boring in Vancouver these days. How else to explain 1,214 people signing up to hear my pathetic speech on August 20th? Don’t you people have cable?”


@Anonymous: ” The two leading thinkers of this blog”

Have you checked out whose comments get consistently modded up? On balance it ain’t the “thinkers”. And with that food for thought, the troll feeding is finished for the day.


US homeowners stuck in ‘underwater’ houses

Few people have seen quite so much of the property pain the US has been through as Heather Mooney…

“On average in Washtenaw County, you are looking at a 20% loss,” she says. “I’m certainly looking at $30,000 (£19,382) to $40,000 that I have lost in my own home.”

So 20% off a peak of apparently around $200K is pain?

What do you call 40% off $800K?

Vote Down The Facts

@Jeff: “wow! lots of sales and price increases today”

Do you have a breakdown of which price changes are increases and which are decreases? I always thought they were almost always decreases.


@patriotz: The two leading thinkers of this blog, Jesse and patriotz, losing credibility with inane arguments! Very entertaining.

Best place on meth


“residents thought they could move furniture without first protecting the elevator”

Yes, I could see how the possibility of scratching the elevator would drive condo owners to levy a $200 fine against the reckless perpetrator, something like that would be a horrific tragedy in a city where property values are everything.

I hope the $196 fines + impound costs the street racers had to endure didn’t cause them too much suffering.

I’m sure the chances of them leaving a fiery trail of death and destruction on a public road was minimal anyway since most of them had possessed their drivers license for several weeks already.


@jesse: Your non-sequiturs are not worth a reply.