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Vancouver's all wet

Ignoring water in Vancouver is about as easy as trying to lick your own elbow.  Somehow I managed to do…

By Heather Amos , in Vancouver's bitter suite life? , on January 16, 2009 Tags: , , , ,

Ignoring water in Vancouver is about as easy as trying to lick your own elbow.  Somehow I managed to do it though.  When I began looking for a place to live in Vancouver, the last thing on my mind was water, and what a mistake that was.

In between 1985 and 2000 there was a housing boom where 159,979 strata apartments were built in British Columbia.  According to The Globe and Mail about 45 per cent of these leaked.

A leaky condo allows water from outside, like rain, to get into the house and damage the ‘building envelope’ meaning the walls and roof.  This causes structural damages and mold.

My landlord was lucky in the sense that my roommates and I showed up to our new home in Vancouver directly from Toronto, Montreal and Lake Louise.  Not one of us had ever laid eyes on the property before, and not one of us had thought to ask if the condo leaked.

Surprise, surprise but it rained for our first few days in Vancouver.   At first I thought somebody had spilled onto our floor and neglected to clean it up.  It turns out that water from outside was entering our wall and ending up on the second floor.

The seven-foot pit out back, aka our backyard, soon started filling with water and resembled a concrete swimming pool.  That’s when we realized that the scaffolding, around the outside of the building, would be there for a while.

Owners of leaky condos have trouble grasping that this was able to grow to such a massive problem.  This sentiment, among others, was explored in an inquiry about the quality of condominium construction in British Columbia.  People wanted to know who should be held accountable for such a problem and how it will be prevented in the future.  The inquiry and resulting commission have put in place some policies to help and protect BC homeowners.  Unfortunately, most repair bills are still the responsibility of the owner, especially unfair with the current economic situation.

Our strata building has decided to fix what is wrong and hopefully they do it soon; the winters here are long and rainy, and it would be nice to not feel rain drops falling on our heads.


  • Wow, you’d think that if any city knew how to water-proof something, it would be Vancouver. That’s like building a bunch of houses without working furnaces in Winnipeg.

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