Leaked Report Highlights Problems With Recently Built Condos

–November 4, 2015

The CBC this morning reported on a leaked Nova Scotia government report that cites widespread workmanship problems with numerous condominiums built in the province during the past 10 years. The government study, which examined 42 condo buildings, found that 79 percent of the buildings experienced at least one defect from the original construction, and that defects have caused individual unit owners in those buildings an average of up to $20,000 to repair. The report, which reportedly called some developers “unscrupulous,” also pointed to a noticeable lack of any accountability process that would force builders to rectify discovered defects.

Condo Nova strives to know everything about condominium buildings in the Halifax region, and works to steer its clients away from buildings with known or rumored problems. Condo Nova also supports enactment of a province-wide mandatory multi-year warranty for the protection of new condo owners.

The study was conducted in 2013 for the former NDP Service Nova Scotia minister, John MacDonell, who was responsible for Nova Scotia’s Condominium Act. It is unclear why the report’s findings were never released or otherwise utilized by the government.

While the report does not name developers or the condominium corporations now responsible for the 42 surveyed buildings, it clearly suggests that some developments were plagued with poor workmanship and calls into question the lack of government oversight, in relation to both inspections of new buildings and protection of new condominium owners.

Among the more egregious findings in the report, according to the CBC was a row house-style condo building in Halifax in which balconies had not been properly affixed and could be pulled away from the building by hand. In another building the fireplace flues were installed with flammable materials and many units were subjected to rainwater leakage. Stove and dishwasher outlets were installed without proper junction boxes in another building, which almost caused a fire when a dishwasher leaked and caused a short circuit.

The report cited a lack of coordination between project managers, supervisors, subcontractors and labourers as being problematic, and noted that there “is evidence that unskilled and perhaps unlicensed personnel are performing critical installations even where the law requires licensed personnel.”

Along with 33 of the 42 buildings surveyed experiencing some kind of defect:

  • 29 (69 percent) were subject to varying degrees of premature building envelope failure, with seven of these subject to a near-total building envelope failure.
  • 15 (46 percent) experienced premature electrical, heating, ventilation or plumbing system failures.
  • seven were subject to latent defects in their structural components and/or fire safety.
  • And, 15 (36 percent) suffered from multiple defects among those mentioned above.

The report noted that while two developers agreed to alleviate problems when they were brought to their attention, many others did not. Condo corporation efforts to sue some of these other developers failed because the builders had already shut down their businesses. The majority of condo corporations did not seek legal action against the developers due to prohibitive costs.

The CBC story and radio broadcast on the report can be found here: Nova Scotia condos hurt by widespread workmanship woes: leaked report. Condo Nova has not been able to access the complete report.

—Originally published in CondoNova.com Nov. 4, 2015

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