Retrofits Getting It Right, the Second Time Around! By Brian Shedden, BSSO N o…this is not a self-help article on personal relationships. This is about your building, your residents’ homes! There is nothing quite like a new condo. Generally, they look great, have nice amenities, a decent view, reasonable maintenance fees and offer the lifestyle that many people find attractive. That is, until the water starts running in. Or the wind starts howling. Or chunks of concrete start cracking or falling off. Or the windows ice up in the winter…or any other unexpected disruption. There is an old saying that “they sure don’t build ’em like they used to,” but that is both good and bad. The fact is that, with the technology available and the materials available to implement the science that is needed to build buildings, we should have a better built building today than ever before in our history. So why don’t we? Simple. In the haste to erect the mammoth structures, the field that is now known as Building Science is the last thing on most minds and the easiest thing to do without. That, and of course, the fact that we have raised one or two generations who do not care to get their hands dirty. Ever seen a computer build anything? ■ So What Is Building Science? Think about this for a moment: Where do we live? The easy answer is Canada. The real answer has more to do with climate than we realize. Canada is a cold climate! Sure, it gets pretty warm for a while during the summer and there are some days in the fall and spring when the AC is running, but for the most part, the place we call home is a cold climate. Moreover, our cold climate features swings in temperatures from –40ºC to +40ºC, and because of this we face some pretty incredible challenges when it comes to building. Because of the way in which buildings are built, each component is generally supplied and installed by a specialist in that particular field… and also by the lowest price bidder in that field. From the excavation of the foundation to the application of the roofing, from the plumbing to the electrical and from the masonry to the painted interior wall, each aspect of the building was constructed by a different trade. That sounds right doesn’t it? Well, it is… but that is where the problem lies. Some of the things we do in construction are done very well. Take the structural aspects of most buildings. When was the last time you heard of a building in Canada falling down? We have structural engineers who wear a little metal ring, made from a bridge that collapsed many years ago, to remind them of what happens when they do not do their jobs well. And generally, they do their jobs well. But what about the person responsible for designing or building the envelope of your building? You know, that part of the building we commonly call the walls and the roof. Think about it this way: In the middle of winter, it might be a comfortable +20ºC inside your building, but on the outside, just 8" away, it may C M C o n d o m i n i u m M a n a g e r M a g a z i n e , W i n t e r 2 0 0 8 ■ 3 5 ■ Install missing flashings at all slab edges. Budget: $250,000 – it can get pretty pricey. The complete absence of an air barrier rendered this building unlivable. All of the masonry had to be removed in order to install an air barrier. Water infiltration: the absence of flashing above these new windows, results in a terrible mess! be –20ºC . That is the difference between Toronto and Miami in January! Your 8 " thick wall has to manage the climatic differences between Toronto and Miami…and • Cast in place concrete contractor • Masonry contractor • Electrical contractor • Mechanical contractor • Insulation contractor who built that? Well. Here is a list of the typical group involved in making that wall: • Architect • Engineer ANNOUNCEMENT Kim Coulter, President of Coulter Building Consultants Ltd., Consulting Engineers & Building Scientists is pleased to announce the promotion of Kevin Shaw to Vice President. Kevin will be responsible for all operational aspects of the firm’s services to our condominium clients. Heenan Blaikie’s Condominium Legal Team Our reputation for providing sound, practical and cost-effective engineering services to condominium corporations has resulted in continued growth. As a key member of the firm for the past nine years, Kevin has taken a leadership role in the development of our condominium engineering services. This appointment furthers that mandate. In excess of 80% of the firm’s billings relate to engineering services to condominium corporations. Kevin’s appointment and a planned office and staffing expansion will ensure our services exceed the expectations of our clients. Understanding this has been key to our success. Providing services to condominium corporations from the GTA, Southern and Western Ontario, Kitchener/Waterloo/ Guelph areas, Kevin can be contacted at 1-877-313-9862 or firstname.lastname@example.org Denise Lash Partner • Condominium Real Estate Co-Chair • Condominium Legal Team 416 360.3566 email@example.com Armand Conant Partner • Condominium Real Estate Co-Chair • Condominium Legal Team 416 643.6873 firstname.lastname@example.org H e e n a n B l a i k i e L L P • L a w y e r s I P a t e n t a n d Tr a d e - m a r k A g e n t s • To r o n t o M o n t r e a l Va n c o u v e r Q u é b e c C a l g a r y S h e r b r o o k e O t t a w a Tr o i s - R i v i è r e s V i c t o r i a • h e e n a n b l a i k i e . c o m ■ 3 6 ■ C M C o n d o m i n i u m M a n a g e r M a g a z i n e , W i n t e r 2 0 0 8 Crawford Roofing Corporation 85 BAKERSFIELD STREET, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1Z4 Tel: (416) 787-0649, Fax: (416) 787-0640 email: email@example.com Single glazed windows – no lintels above the windows and masonry work that is ready to let go! • Air barrier contractor (What is that???) • Vapour barrier contractor • Drywall contractor • Window manufacturer • Window installation contractor • Sealants contractor (caulking) • Painting contractor (See any opportunity for even one of these to not be quite right?) The fact is that there are so many aspects to the envelope, carried out at different times and by different trades, that there is little wonder that so many of our buildings suffer from the premature failure of one or more of these components…or the complete absence of one or more! How do you know if your envelope was well built? It is easier than you might think. (See photos.) How many times have you seen either frost or full sections of ice on Industrial • Built-Up • Single Ply • Restoration • Inverted Bonded & Insured Member of O.I.R.C.A CommercialInstitutional • Modified Bitumen • Highrise • Waterproofing • Townhouses • Roof Anchors • Rooftop Decks • Sheet Metal • Rooftop Walkways Nelson Rites, Andy Yap Domingos Rites, Curtis Ellis Innovative Interior Solutions Nothing increases the value of your building’s suites more effectively than a building’s interior refurbishment. Custom managed renovations Creative, enhanced design Streamlined, efficient workflow utilizing skilled in-house trades Economical modernizations Fully implemented 15000 sq/ft warehouse and showroom Serving the condominium and commercial market for over 28 yrs. T. 905.475.6703 www.tricancontract.com Stack effect and air exfiltration will destroy the building envelope. C M C o n d o m i n i u m M a n a g e r M a g a z i n e , W i n t e r 2 0 0 8 ■ 3 7 ■ TRI CAN AD AUGUST WORKN 6.indd 1 10/9/07 7:08:18 PM Thermal bridging: there is insufficient insulation and likely an absence of an air barrier, resulting in cold areas on the walls that attract airborne dirt. your window frame in the winter? It might be easy to blame the window…but that is not necessarily the culprit. Here are some of the things to consider when your walls start telling you that there is a problem: • Is there an air barrier on the exterior wall? (This is usually a membrane of sorts that acts to prevent the inward force of air on the building wall) • How much insulation is in the wall? • Does the exterior cladding of the Evidence of failed sealants, on the outside. Water will get in…how is it designed to get out? Through a crack? building allow for the pressurization of wind forces? • Does the exterior cladding allow for water to escape from it, or does it trap it in? • Are there proper flashings, both metal and membrane, around the window to direct rain water away from the wall assembly? • Is there a thermal break in your window (separates the cold exterior side from the warm interior side of the window frame) • Is the window equipped with proper and functioning weatherstripping? • Are the perimeter sealants intact? • Are there any mechanical or electrical services that may be penetrating the exterior wall at any point? • What is the humidity level in your unit? Is it above 40%? There are a multitude of things that go into a wall and a multitude of things that can fail if not done properly the first time, so you have to get it right the second time! ■ ■ 3 8 ■ C M C o n d o m i n i u m M a n a g e r M a g a z i n e , W i n t e r 2 0 0 8 Brian Shedden, BSSO, is VP Client Services with J. McBride & Sons Ltd. (www.jmcbride.net), specialists in building restoration. He can be reached at 416-431-7770 ext. 25.