Getting It Right, the Second Time Around!

Getting It Right, the Second
Time Around!
By Brian Shedden, BSSO
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
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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
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
Heenan Blaikie’s
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
Denise Lash
Partner • Condominium Real Estate
Co-Chair • Condominium Legal Team
416 360.3566
Armand Conant
Partner • Condominium Real Estate
Co-Chair • Condominium Legal Team
416 643.6873
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
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Crawford Roofing Corporation
85 BAKERSFIELD STREET, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1Z4
Tel: (416) 787-0649, Fax: (416) 787-0640
Single glazed windows – no lintels
above the windows and masonry
work that is ready to let go!
• Air barrier contractor (What is
• 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
• Built-Up
• Single Ply
• Restoration
• Inverted
Bonded & Insured
Member of O.I.R.C.A
• Modified Bitumen
• Highrise
• Waterproofing
• Townhouses
• Roof Anchors
• Rooftop Decks
• Sheet Metal
• Rooftop Walkways
Nelson Rites, Andy Yap
Domingos Rites, Curtis Ellis
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Stack effect and air exfiltration will
destroy the building envelope.
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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
• Does the exterior cladding of the
Evidence of failed sealants, on the
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
• 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! ■
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Brian Shedden, BSSO, is VP Client
Services with J. McBride & Sons
Ltd. (, specialists
in building restoration. He can be
reached at 416-431-7770 ext. 25.
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