I’ve recently been given the opportunity to see a massive construction project as it unfolded before my very eyes.
The revitalization of Barbara Ann Scott Park, a historic respite from the hustle and bustle of Canada’s major financial centre day to day hysteria, has been a real eye opener for me.
I immediately adjusted my ill-informed perspective on the people that actually make any major project work.
I was disappointed with Toronto City officials handling of this park for the past decade during which time, it is my opinion, that they intentionally destroyed the park and stripped tax payers of enjoyment of the park.
All three major high rise towers forming College Park we “hyped” on “being able to buy a home in downtown Toronto based on a $3.5 million renovation of the park“.
I’ve written about it being my theory that the developer and owner of the commercial parking garage sitting directly under the park having moisture problems.
When you think of it, watering all that grass, plants, trees and the like, draining directly down onto a flat concrete roof for four or five decades, there would have to be a planned major restoration of that parking garage membrane.
Well you can give the marketing department of the developer (a guy that I’ve personally worked with and an excellent example of everything that’s wrong with the marketing and sales of condos in Condoland) good marks for exploiting this into a marketing campaign that led thousands of consumers to buy their condos “with a $3.5 Million brand new park“.
I guess in marketing terms this is considered a good project. In consumer terms it was “exploitation“.
The park took over a decade to even start any type of renovation. More importantly, remember that moisture situation down below?
Well, it got taken care of when the City arbitrarily and without notice turned off all watering systems in the park, coincidentally (I’m not a believer in coincidence” in most scenarios) “took care of the developer’s moisture problem“.
I don’t think anyone will be shocked when I say that the City of Toronto and developers maintain a very close relationship when it comes to Condoland.
Not only the City of Toronto, but also the Province of Ontario as construction industry employment is critical to promoting “a good economy”.
So about a month back, we woke up to a construction crew building an eight foot high plywood wall abutting directly onto the front gate to the front door of our home.
There are twelve townhouses situated right in the park with the apparent property line drawn immediately at a small iron gate through which one accesses each townhouse.
One would expect at least some kind of direct communication realizing what building this wall would mean to owners, who have invested heavily in their homes.
Well anyway, that’s for another day.
Today I’m sitting here once again appreciate to see these performers show up and do their thing.
It truly is like watching a ballet or choreographed event.
There are four backhoe “Bobcats“, and four front ender loader type Bobcats with a crew of just a couple more and in a month this concrete monstrosity built a half decade ago has been torn apart and removed in one very impressive manner.
These guys really know what they are doing. To see them operate these machines, with each independent operator following an obviously well choreographed system is impressive.
As I watch I cannot help to wonder how I would have gone about getting this work done.
In construction there are always two ways of going about it.
This crew is obviously a “union outfit“, meaning that they all belong to a union.
I’ve realized that I may have missed the meaning of unions as I’ve never had any exposure, so I’ve recently invested some time to visit “union shops” to try to learn more about them and why consumers should get to understand the significance and differences when working with union trades.
In Condoland, for example I’m learning that there are two types of building construction, union and non-union and when it comes to residential condos (“Condoland”) the two are worlds apart!
I find it rather disturbing that the residential condo industry is NOT regulated and therefore is nowhere close to comparable to commercial construction standards.
With residential condos, any Tom, Nancy or whoever, with a hammer and some basic awareness of whatever menial task on a construction site they may be able to negotiate some work on, has steel toed boots and a hard hat, can find work especially in today’s bustling Condoland construction landscape.
The logical question is: “Do you want you biggest asset to be built by unskilled trades people based on ‘lowest bids‘”?
Shockingly folks, that precisely what has been going on in Condoland throughout my four decades on involvement!
I’ve seen prices rise over 300% in the past decade alone in Condoland!
I’ve been writing for over a decade about Condoland being plagued with shaky developers, many of whom couldn’t build a reputation let alone a building.
Developers are people with money who buy land and contract out absolutely every aspect of pre-selling, building, occupying and ultimately selling residential condos.
My research has introduced me to Ontario’s “Underground Economy“, which according to The Province of Ontario’s Construction Secretariat “the annual estimated revenue losses to the WSIB, the Canada Pension Plan, and the EI system from underground practices is Ontario’s construction industry was in the order of $1.4 Billion to $2.4 Billion“!
So one of the Province of Ontario’s “key employment indicators to show a positive economy“, (the “Construction Industry” – “Condoland”) is plagued with Billion of Dollars in Underground Economy activity.
My recent research into unions suggests to me that this underground Economy does not co-exist on union sites.
So, logically, where is it most likely to flourish?
Residential condo construction sites!
Ladies and gentlemen you single most personal and significant investment is being built, in many if not most cases, by unskilled workers being paid under the table.
It is not hard to understand that this type of graft, leads to lower construction costs for developers thus higher profits.
Governments, in my limited educational perspective, are supposed to “protect the best interests of the consumer“.
Could “conflict of interest” stand in the way of governments cleaning this up?
After all, cleaning things up could equate to a “drop off in projects” thus “drop off in employment” and, the treadmill goes on, and on.
I’ve written for a decade and a half about my legitimate “crisis of confidence with respect to Condoland“!
I’ve appeared on documentaries, local television shows, magazine articles, the collection of which are all available free of charge on my site www. simplycharles.com.
I’ve been telling the world all this time that Condoland is seriously flawed, but as long as our government holds to its flawed (in my opinion) strategy of economic stimulus that keeps our interest rates artificially low, consumer will continue to be lured into “becoming investors” in a product that is “physically flawed“.
Around 2000, as Condoland began to regain its feet following a decade of flat real estate sales following the crash of 1989, it caught onto a new technology “Window Wall” and/or “Curtain Wall“.
My preliminary findings on these products, although the product itself seems solid, suggests to me that there may well be a Tsunami cresting on Condoland’s horizon and once again the entire financial burden will be passed onto you know who . . . . “consumer“!
You see these new walls systems come with a life cycle, as do most things. It seems that with these residential building walls that life cycle is approximately “fifteen years“.
The immediate question that comes to mind, is “what happens in 15 years“?
Glass carries absolutely no thermal rating, meaning that it does not insulate. These walls are insulated with a narrow vacuum sealed space between two pieces of glass.
The theory is that after 15 years the coolants that support the vacuum area will deteriorate allowing the gas to escape and thereby removing any/all insulation factor from those walls.
Imagine the heating bill increase on all those condo units affected.
And let’s not forget that the entire building envelope might go at relatively the same time.
You couldn’t fix these walls with people living in the units so, all occupants will have to vacate when the time comes.
I’m wondering if Reserve Fund Studies factor in this unforeseen event (it’s not a matter of “if” it will happen, it’s a matter of “when“).
This technology became popular around 2000 so we have at least two first generation installations “hitting their life cycle expectancy“.
Any my findings get worse.
Remember I was talking about the Underground Economy driving the residential condo industry!
What do you think the odds are of the residential condo buildings built during the past decade and a half “boom years” having had these curtain wall assemblies “installed PROPERLY“!
I’ve got photographs of residential condo buildings presently under construction in Toronto “installing these glass walls IMPROPERLY”!
If today’s improper installations (in active condo sites) are the norm, what are the odds of all those hundreds of thousands of units delivered over the past 15 years having been done correctly?
Now, all the evidence is not in yet, but I’m working on it. Consumers have an absolute right (especially when hundreds of thousands of their dollars are concerned) to know that their governments are there fulfilling their obligations of protecting them!
I believe that Condoland is facing a potentially lethal “Silent Stalker” that is scheduled to awaken sometime in the very near future and remain with us for a very long time, depending upon how quickly we can get Condoland to awaken and save itself!
This all comes back to the choreography in the park and the professionalism shown by these guys that don’t even know that I’m here watching them.
Professionalism is to be expected when you are paying for a good or service. Isn’t it time that the consumer “got some“!
Of course, the consumer!
Great article, Charles.
It comes as an eye opener. Makes me wander…
How it works? If the prices for condo units keep rising, quarter to quarter, year to year… developers use the cheap, often unskilled labour, where the money goes. I don’t think that building materials are getting so much expansive quarter to quarter… So, it looks as just a money grab.
But does anybody has control of what’s going on? Warranties, insurance, the City, provincial Government?
Are customers aware at all of what’s going on?