Here’s An Unique And Frightening Window Into Condoland

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The definitive reality is that “Window Wall” construction dominates Condoland ever since its introduction back in 2000.

As a construction alternative (to “Curtain Wall construction” or “PunchWindow construction” methods) Window Wall construction has become extremely popular with “cost-conscious” developers and builders.

Does anyone actually believe that developers, while charging better than $800 per square foot for entry level condos, need to pursue “building cost /building material costs savings“?

Tragically, Condoland developers, at best, (under law) aspire to meet only “Minimal Building Standards“.

Read those glossy developer brochures and then revert back to this reality . . . that they need only be as mediocre in their delivering on their promises to buyer as the Building Code (outdated and certainly not consumer friendly building standards) requires only that they build to the minimum standard.

That’s not what those brochures say!

The decided majority of Condos in Ontario over the past fifteen (15) years have been “floor-to-ceiling” glass walls.

We saw balcony glass falling off a staggering number of Condoland building, the latest of which being Trump Tower.

Today’s blog is not about more falling glass, but about the glass walls the form the “envelope” of these condo towers.

I’m certainly not an “engineer“, yet I know that glass carries absolutely very little, if any, “thermal efficiency“.

The Ontario Building Code regulates that all solid walls must have an “R value of R20“.

There is currently no regulation for the level of insulation developers need to put in windows.

Whether a developer chooses to go with two panes of glass or three, the “R value” may only reach “R3”!

I have learned that this allows builders to construct a glass tower with an overall R value of R4 and still be compliant with the Building Code!

Say what!

And it gets worse!

Whatever “thermal efficiency” of “R4” seems disturbing, realizing that Condoland suffers punishing winters and extreme heat in the summers, the fact that these glass walls consist of panes of glass separated by a thin layer of “heavy gases” and sealed, seals that will begin to fail and these heavier gasses escape the space barriers!

This will render all these glass wall condo units without effective heating and cooling and place an excessive strain of the heating and cooling costs and equipment.

Residents will not be able to see that the window seal has failed, but the escaping gas ultimately in time, will cause visible fogginess in the window unit.

The problem with Window Wall construction is that, because the exterior surfaces of the building constantly expands and contracts with the heat of the sun, while the interior surface remains relatively constant, the sealants will crack and deteriorate over time, causing moisture problems and potential failure of the glazing units.

The deterioration of Window Walls will lead to skyrocketing energy and maintenance costs for condo corporations and owners (all financial impact passes directly onto the owners whether through a “Special Assessment” amortized over years of an “one time in full payment“.

The aggregate maximum warranty coverage for new homes and condominium units is just $300,000 (despite the average of a condo in Condoland being almost $500,000.oo)!

So, if all goes well and these wall units are all installed perfectly, their life span, according to Dr. ted Kesik, Ph.D., P. Eng. (Professor of Building Science University of Toronto) we can “expect these Window Wall construction to hold up for 15 – 20 years“!

Realize that if one window wall goes the rest will follow, thus a situation will arise whereby the entire envelope of the building will have to be replaced!

Who’s paying?  That’s a no-brainer . . . “the owner” who also must pay to move and rent elsewhere until this massive project of replacing the exterior of the building!

Any/all major Structural Defect warranty protection from Tarion expire by year 7.

Options for owners are few!

The condo association (of which each owner is a shareholder) either hires a contractor to seal the exterior face of the window wall assemblies over the entire building (the low end of the cost scheme) or a much more expensive special assessment for replacing the entire building envelope.

The seal the envelope lower cost alternative will only last for 10 to 15 years and I’m working on getting clarification on the viability of this alternative, if it is discovered that the heavy gasses have escaped.

What is important to get a grasp on is that either way, these massive costs will directly affect the “market value of the units“, thus the marketability will become compromised!

The consequences of all of this could be devastating, to the Province, Municipalities, Banks, CMHC and most importantly to me, the consumer!

The consumer is the only player in this game that actually “pays” anything!

All levels of government (Federal, Provincial, Municipal), all Developers, Tarion, the banks and mortgage lenders, Realtors, Lawyers, CMHC, and all related businesses all “receive money” (and tons of it)!

The poor little consumer is the only payer!

And in the end, should all this Window Wall drama play itself out, it will be the consumer who once again will be on the hook!

I welcome your comments.

Charles

 

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