There have been several instances of falling glass panels and failed window seals in condominium apartments in the Greater Toronto Area. While the construction industry and government initiatives deal with these issues and try to prevent any further occurrences, I believe planning by condominium boards is also important for the future of these glass clad towers and to protect the investment of the unit owners.
Industry experts have voiced their concerns about the energy efficiency, durability and leakage resistance of many of the glass-clad condominium towers. Architecturally speaking, there is always a limit to how long any construction component will last and the related failure rate of that component.
Buildings with glass claddings are inherently less energy efficient than traditional construction methodologies. They have significantly lower thermal resistance of glass and metal to traditional insulation methods. As the sealed units and joints fail, the condominium corporations must initiate remediation or replacement of the buildings' window-walls in a proactive manner.
Special Assessments: Remediation or replacement costs can be a substantial expense for any condominium corporation - a cost that, once again, is borne by the owners in the form of high maintenance fees and/or special assessments.
The condominium corporations that manage the towers with glass cladding should assess today, the scope of anticipated problems and the best way to handle them when they arise. They should formulate a strategy to spread the cost of anticipated repairs over a period of time in a reasonable manner so that the residents don’t get burdened with these costs. Based on the average life of these sealed units of glass, once the managing bodies determine the amount required for repairs, they can determine an appropriate contribution to the condo reserve fund to ensure that they have enough when the time comes.
It is imperative to plan, as a sudden increase in maintenance fee or a special assessment will negatively impact the condo values. Historically, once condo units fall in value, it is almost impossible to recover as the stigma stays on with the building long after the issues are gone.
If any unit owner is unsure that their building may be affected with any issues in future, they should raise their concerns with the condo board. The onus is upon the unit owner to protect the value of their real estate. Otherwise consult with a REALTOR™ and get out of the building before you are hit with a hefty special assessment or an increased maintenance fee.