CONDO October 2020

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Canada’s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine

October 2020 • Vol. 35 #4


Designing health and wellness habitats



DESIGN & RENOVATION Interior trends, noisy floors and avoiding DIY disasters













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Noise Complaints: Is Your Renovation Agreement Up-To-Date? By Steven Vasconcelos


Top Interior Design Trends By Darlene Janeiro


Industry Wary of Supply Chain Disruptions


A Condo Door Refresh By Samantha Angel and Peter VanSickle



Shifting Spaces By Rebecca Melnyk



Legal How to Avoid a DIY Disaster: Best Practices and Tips By Michelle Kelly


Developer Avoids Liability After Cancelling Condo Project By David Taub


Maintenance Upgrading Parking Garage Safety By Holden Johnson


Energy Rebate extension postpones hydro cost hit By Barbara Carss


Finance Reserve Fund Budgeting: A Fan Coil Unit Retrofit By Melissa Kois

Canada’s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine

October 2020 • Vol. 35 #4

Evermore at West Village Rendering courtesy of Tridel.

IN EVERY ISSUE Editor's Letter


Ask the Expert


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REIMAGINING MULTI-RES Designing health and wellness habitats






DESIGN & RENOVATION Interior trends, noisy floors and avoiding DIY disasters







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Healthy Habitats Canadians are still reporting high levels of pandemic-related anxiety and depression, despite relaxed restrictions kicking in this summer. This was a key finding from Mental Health Research Canada’s second poll in a series of national surveys on how coronavirus is impacting mental health. Dr. Thomas Ungar, psychiatrist-in-chief at St. Michael's Hospital, spoke on this topic in a recent webinar. While quickly distinguishing between mental illness and mental health, he said of the latter that it’s normal to feel scared amid a serious, social existential threat. “It’s appropriate to be stressed and worried and down and sad,” he said. “It’s just not a normal life right now; we’re adapting.” Developers and designers have also been musing over what it means for residents to be cooped up with limitations. The idea that design can influence the psychological needs of spaces, that it can positively influence physical, emotional and mental health, is making greater strides this year. In our design and renovation issue, we give voice to experts who are building and shaping communities of the future with this in mind. Many foresee inspiration coming from commercial properties like high-end offices, hospitals and hotels where wellbeing has become a major concern. For instance, in the office sector, this translates to recruitment, retention, productivity, physical and mental health, and a work-life balance. Now, with many people working from home and nowhere to really go, the same applies to the health of a residential building and each individual — even more than it already has. Further to this concept, an interior designer brings forth the latest trends for common elements. Condo corporations thinking about undertaking a renovation project can also benefit from expertise on avoiding a DIY disaster and figuring out what design process to choose from. Also in this issue: a recent legal case where a developer avoided a class action suit after cancelling a condo project; the intricate connection between noise complaints and renovation agreements; and how to give condo doors a proper do-over. We hope you enjoy, and wish you a happy fall season.

Associate Publisher Bryan Chong Editor Rebecca Melnyk Advertising Sales Kelly Nicholls Blair Wilson Senior Designer Annette Carlucci Production Manager Rachel Selbie Contributing Writers Samantha Angel, Barbara Carss, Holden Johnson, Darlene Janeiro, Lisa Kay, Michelle Kelly, Melissa Kois, David Taub, Peter VanSickle, Steven Vasconcelos Digital Media Director Steven Chester Subscription Rates Canada: 1 year, $60*; 2 years, $110* Single Copy Sales: Canada: $10*. Elsewhere: $12 USA: $85 International: $110 *Plus applicable taxes Reprints: Requests for permission to reprint any portion of this magazine should be sent to Circulation Department Taras Kozak (416) 512-8186 ext. 234 CONDOBUSINESS is published six times a year by

President Kevin Brown Director & Group Publisher Sean Foley Accounting Anna Kantor 2001 Sheppard Avenue East Suite 500 | Toronto, Ontario M2J 4Z8 (416) 512-8186 Fax: (416) 512-8344 e-mail: CONDOBUSINESS welcomes letters but accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40063056 ISSN 0849-6714 All contents copyright MediaEdge Communications Inc. Printed in Canada on recycled paper.

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Undertaking a Common Element Renovation Refurbishing a common element often involves deciding what design process works best for the condominium community. To help boards of directors and property managers successfully deliver such a project, Lisa Kay, sales and marketing manager at JCO & Associates, lays out the pros and cons of two methods commonly used for capital improvements: design-build and design-bid-build. What is the difference between design-build and design-bid-build? Design-build (DB) is the one-stop-shop solution. Under this method, a corporation hires a single entity to perform the design, management and construction under a single contract. Design-bid-build (DBB) is a more conventional method where the condominium corporation contracts separately with a designer/consultant and a general contractor, and the project is tendered.

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How does the board make this decision? The Condo Act states that the board must adhere to a "standard of care," which is objectively defined as acting honestly and in good faith, exercising care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances. Boards must act in the best interests of the corporation using common sense, honestly doing what they believe to be the right thing, and avoiding conflicts of interest unless disclosed and not successfully challenged

ASK THE EXPERT by the owners. Given there are valid pros and cons to each process, one could objectively support either. It is for the board of directors to assess each process and decide which one they believe is the best for their corporation. What are the pros and cons of DB? Pros: Only one contract is signed with the general contractor. The design fees are part of the contract and include modifications, if needed, to meet budget requirements. The general contractor works with the designer from inception to provide the most cost effective and valuable solution, considering materials and construction for the created design. In addition, the synergy of the designer and the contractor working in tandem and on site from inception creates the ability to accurately cost the project upfront and avoid cost overruns. This process lends itself well to a fixed-price contract, given the high degree of familiarity the general contractor has to the designers’ scope and the applicable site conditions. There is also the ability to design within a fixed budget. DB is also a faster, more efficient process than DBB. There are fewer parties to coordinate for meetings and faster decisionmaking on all aspects from design to construction, leading to maximized efficiencies throughout the process. Other pros include having a single point of accountability for both design and construction, enhanced cost and quality control and mock-ups provided before a final design solution is determined. Cons: The DB process is highly dependent on all parties being responsive and timely with decision-making to take full advantage of the potential efficiencies of DB. The corporation gives up the ability to have the consultant independently (from the general contractor) approve progress draws. Since there are no tendering and competitive bids, boards must rely on a reasonableness test for costing, references, site visits of the DB company's previous projects and reserve fund budgets. More checks and balances are needed in the contract, and if multiple RFPs are received, it is difficult to compare them from a cost perspective since each bidder will have their own design and use different materials. What are the pros and cons of DBB? Pros: The traditional DBB project delivery method typically involves three sequential project phases: the design phase, the bid phase and the construction phase. This method is widely applicable and used, well understood,

and has well-established and clearly defined roles for the parties involved. The consultant is working directly for the corporation and is arm’s length from the contractor, while competitive bids are received for a "defined" scope of work and finishes, allowing the board to review with an "apples to apples" comparison. It should be noted, there are two contracts to be signed, one with the designer and one with the general contractor. The design fees are separate

and must be paid up front. If the bids come in over budget, there may be additional fees to redesign the project so as to come into budget. Cons: The DBB process may take longer than DB and there are more steps involved. First, all design work must be completed prior to the tendering of the construction contract; tenders must be reviewed then awarded. Second, general contractors must review the site thoroughly to ensure the scope/materials complete viability.



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The designer may also have a limited understanding of the construction and cost ramifications of their design, which can lead to a more expensive final product than budgeted. The condo corporation also generally faces exposure to contractor change orders and claims over design and construction issues since the owner accepts

liability for design in its contract with the contractor. There may be a temptation to go with the lowest cost provider, which may not prove more cost effective in the long run. Generally, all bids should be reasonably close. If there are material differences in the bids, the corporation should further investigate why and understand the differences to

ensure that there are no future cost overruns potentially resulting in unnecessary delays. One possible reason for cost differences: In the DBB scenario the designer typically has a "walk through" with the general contractor to explain the project (which lasts a couple of hours). T he general contractor then sends an estimator/trade(s) to measure the building for pricing. This scenario does not allow the general contractor to become as familiar with the building as in the DB scenario. Since the designer has not worked with the general contractor when developing the design, possible construction issues and conditions may not sur face until construction begins and would not be stated in the tender. Not every general contractor would allow for these additional construction accommodations if not requested in the tender. How can a board choose what process works best? In determining which process and contractual arrangement to select, condo boards should carefully analyze their ability to closely and effectively manage the process, be sensitive to cost and scheduling escalations, and have a degree of comfort with bearing project risk. Condos who are working within a tight budget have a low tolerance in bearing project risk and wish to minimize the time allocated to such a project and tend to find the more collaborative DB delivery method appealing. Condos that are uncomfortable proceeding without tendering (as it may be viewed as an extra layer of diligence) may lean toward DBB. If you are working with reputable, accredited designers and general contractors who are experienced and specialized in condominium refurbishing, there should be very little difference in the outcome of the quality and cost of the project. 1 Lisa Kay is with JCO & Associates, a g e n e ra l c o ntra c to r b a s e d i n th e Greater Toronto Area that specializes i n c o n d o mi niu m c o mm o n a re a refurbishment and offers both DB and DBB options. Th a n k yo u to P atri c i a E l i a o f E l i a Associates for her input.

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Noise Complaints: Is Your Renovation Agreement Up-To-Date? When wall-to-wall broadloom


f lourished in the 1970s and ‘80s, high-rise residential properties experienced little to no impact noise complaints.

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DESIGN AND RENOVATIONS But as hardwood flooring emerged in the marketplace, so did the increase in calls to property managers about noisy neighbours upstairs — walking around, dropping items and moving furniture. Noise complaints have impacted the residential high-rise industry for decades. Even with all the recent technological advancements, it remains a top issue facing buildings today. It ’s fair to s ay some c ommon sense nee d s to b e considered. Let’s be honest; when stacking people above one another, up to 70 storeys, the possibility of hearing sounds coming from the unit above is not far-fetched. Then there is the issue of what can be noisy to one person, may not be to another individual. Noise is certainly subjective. Perhaps legislation needs to be strengthened when it comes to the Ontario Building Code. Currently, builders in Ontario do not have to meet a requirement, only a recommendation of IIC 55. IIC stands for "Impact Insulation Class.” It is a test conducted in a laboratory in a controlled environment. It measures the degree of soundproofing of the impact noise of a floor/ceiling assembly. FIIC stands for "Field Impact Insulation Class.” This test is conducted in the field, and the rating offers a more realistic representation opposed to a laboratory IIC test. It is carried out in buildings and holds the same principles. The higher the FIIC, the better acoustic performance is achieved. Will an acoustic membrane eliminate all noise complaints? No. But you may want to review your Renovation Agreement. Condo boards and managers who take a closer look at their Renovation Agreement will find they can often do much better to minimize future noise complaints. Renovation Agreements act as a preventative measure against owners and contractors looking to skimp on the acoustic membrane required to be installed under flooring. This document, which is often overlooked, is a direct measure in deterring noise and vibration transfer between residential suites. Boards and managers who take a closer look at their Renovation Agreements will find they need to do better. A proactive approach will not only reduce noise complaints but also improve a building’s reputation and overall quality of living. Suspended ceilings are one factor to consider. Sometimes called dropped ceilings, suspended ceilings function as a second ceiling that hangs below the original or structural one. This type of system can improve acoustics in a room by adding in more absorptive materials, such as foam panels, acoustic insulation and a double layer of drywall. Most high-rise residential properties in Toronto, however, do not have a dropped ceiling assembly. They are typically built of eight-inch concrete slabs alone. A case study was conducted in July 2020. The purpose was to research the acoustic properties of underlayment sold at major Big Box stores compared to a well-known accredited flooring specialist who distributes a variety of acoustic underlayments. It was determined the products sold by the Big Box stores were all tested with dropped ceiling assemblies, while the flooring specialist opted to distribute only those products tested without dropped ceilings and specifically made for high-rise condos. Boards and managers often need a little assistance in this area as they are not acoustic or flooring specialists. To demonstrate compliance, there are three items they should look at with the boards they work alongside.

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First, confirm the property’s floor-ceiling assembly. Do the units have dropped ceilings? Second, update the Renovation Agreement to comply with the building’s floor-ceiling assembly. Lastly, request the products testing documents and proof of purchase for your file. This will eliminate the bait and switch of any type of inferior products. Managers do not have the time to physically inspect every renovation taking

place to ensure that correct products are being installed. Their role often goes beyond the call of duty; at times they are called to wear more hats than the entire Toronto Blue Jays organization. Many properties do not have a concierge or security at the main entrance; therefore, owners and contractors conduct entire renovations without notifying managers of the work or products being installed. This is an ongoing problem.

Here is a summarized template that can be altered to meet any property’s building design. It was created sp ecific all y w ith a residential high rise property in mind, with no dropped ceilings. Where a hard surface floor finish such as hardwood, laminate or vinyl is to be installed in a suite as a replacement for carpeting or another hard surface, an owner shall ensure that a sound attenuation barrier is installed that will achieve an acoustical sound proof standard of a minimum Field Impact Isolation Class rating of FIIC 70. A sample of the underlay and its spec sheet must be provided with this form prior to starting any r e n o v a t i o n s . Th e u n d e r l a y m u s t have the test documentation from the manufacturer that indicates that it wa s te ste d ove r an e ig htinch concrete slab and with no suspended or dropped ceiling (FIIC 70 minimum). Upon receiving approval, we require proof of purchase in the form of an invoice for our file. This kind of approach will not only reduce noise complaints but will also improve a building’s reputation and enhance the overall quality of living for everyone. 1 Steven Vasconcelos is the principal of The Floor Studio Inc. and an accredited NWFA Wood Floor Inspector who specializes in wood flooring and acoustical membranes., 416-533-2855.

14 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network Atrens_Condo_March_2018.indd 1

2018-03-14 1:51 PM

The view is even better, when it’s coupled with peace of mind. Ensuring open communication between unit owners and their Board of Directors is just one aspect of effectively managing condominiums. CLM’s team of professionally trained managers not only provide the highest standard of service, they ensure all aspects of accounting, site operations and physical maintenance is tailored to the needs of individual properties. If it’s time to reconsider your choice of professional management services; CLM—peace of mind, worry-free living. For competitive management rates, or to find out how CLM can be of further assistance, please contact;

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How to Avoid a DIY Disaster: Best Practices and Tips The internet is full of videos of do-it-yourself (DIY) tutorials for renovat ion projects w it h


guarantees to increase the value of your property. Not surprisingly, there are almost the same number of videos of DIY fails. While the fails might be entertaining for viewers, the homeowners were likely

disappointed with the results. Multiply that disappointment by the number of unit owners in a condominium and you could have a costly disaster. To avoid a DIY disaster, condominiums should consider the following advice. 16 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

LEGAL Design Expert: If DIY videos have taught us anything, it’s that designing a room that is aesthetically pleasing is not easy. Often the design is left to the directors with little experience or training in design. Condominiums should consider hiring designers for their renovation projects, especially larger projects with significant dollars invested to avoid costly mistakes. Review Documents: Someone should review the condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules (and shared facilities agreements, if any) to ensure the proposed work is not prohibited. For example, in newer condominiums, the consent of the declarant might be required. Approval of Owners: The directors must also review section 97 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”). Is the proposed work being done using materials that are reasonably close in quality to the original given current construction standards? If so, notice to the owners may not be required. If the proposed work is an upgrade, or a completely new feature, it may require notice to the owners and possibly a vote in favour before the condominium can commence work. The condominium’s lawyer can provide an opinion on whether the owners must receive notice and approve the proposed work. Input of Owners: Even if notice to the owners or their approval is not required, seeking input from the owners is sometimes wise. A hideous new paint colour or door design can lead to conflict in the condominium, leading to gossip, accusations and even requisitions to remove directors. A radical change in the design should be discussed with owners before the work begins.

Accessibility: The renovation work should aim to improve the property and make it more accessible for residents and visitors. The condominium must also provide notice of service interruptions if the renovation project will reduce services, even if the disruption is only temporary. For example, if the elevator will be unavailable, the condominium must provide notice to residents so residents with disabilities can make alternative arrangements. Written Contract: It is important to have a written contract with the contractors, including the designer. The contract should describe at least the cost, estimated start and end dates, warranties, insurance, dispute resolution, any limits on liability and indemnity requirements. Engineering Advice: Depending on the work being done, the condominium should consider hiring an engineer to oversee the project. For larger projects, the engineer can help with the tendering process, prepare the contract, inspect the work and certify payments to the contractor. For smaller projects, the condominium should at least obtain a few estimates from the contractors and consider having the engineer review the proposed work. Reserve Fund: The condominium will need to review the work to determine if it can use the reserve fund to pay for it. According to the Act, the reserve fund can be used only for major repairs and replacements of the common elements and assets of the condominium. If the renovation project is not a reserve fund eligible expense, the condominium will need to find other sources of funding. | October 2020 17


“A hideous new paint colour or door design can lead to conflict in the

condominium, leading to gossip, accusations and even requisitions to remove directors.” Sources of Funding: A condominium can COVID -19: In light of public health use the operating fund to pay for renovation restrictions and recommendations, the projects or levy a special assessment to condominium should also consider whether cover the costs. Prior to levying a special the renovation project can be deferred. If assessment, someone should review the the work can be carried out without much condominium’s by-laws for any special interaction with owners, the risks are requirements, such as a minimum notice considerably lower than work that requires period or content for the notice to owners. access to the units. The condominium should Finally, a condominium might consider a loan ask the contractors for any safety protocols for the renovation work. A loan will usually that they have implemented to prevent the require a borrowing by-law, which must be spread of COVID-19. approved by the owners of a majority of the No one wants to make a list of design PM compilation. voting units.DelProperty_Condo_March_2018_torevise.pdf fails or 1DIY2018-04-13 gone wrong2:44 videos











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The list above provides some of the key considerations, but condominiums should seek professional advice prior to starting a renovation project to avoid costly mistakes and DIY fails. 1 Michelle Kelly is a condo lawyer at Robson Carpenter LLP, a firm that specializes in the development of condos and subdivisions. She leads the firm’s condo management practice, providing legal assistance to condos, directors and managers throughout Ontario.

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Top Interior Design Trends

When it comes to predicting

design BY DARLENE JANEIRO trends for 2020 and beyond, little did we know that we would have to take into consideration the current pandemic. When

designing common spaces in condominiums, designers and architects are more adept at finding forward-thinking design solutions with the health, safety and well-being of residents in mind. This is particularly true in multi-residential refurbishment projects, as we reinvent amenity spaces, including lobbies, party rooms, lounge areas and mailrooms. Bringing a fresh sensibility to this process, we recognize that the building materials we use are key. From alloys to metal and glass to non-porous and non-absorbent surfaces, choices of materials and design are not just aesthetically fashionable but are precautionary measures for better infection control. Taking cue from hospital design, we can more easily facilitate cleaning and wellness protocols by avoiding overly intricate designs in high-touch surfaces, like handles, buttons and railings. We are finding a new balance between bold design statements and practical restraints. A flat, smooth façade makes it easier to clean and disinfect. Cambria’s new 2020 collection of quartz surfaces, including the Big Sur Mist and Sanibel Shoreline designs, are perfect examples. An even bigger bonus is that they’re produced from preconsumer recycled content as certified by SCS Global Services. As designers, we can feel good about sourcing such products as they meet our design requirements and are environmentally-friendly. We will continue to see large format quartz and porcelain slabs being used for wall cladding, fireplace cladding, as well as vinyl wallpaper, since both are wipeable and easy to sanitize. Architectural details are also being simplified with fewer horizontal surfaces — particularly ledges and complex baseboards. Instead, we are seeing wood being used to draw the eye vertically through panelling and millwork. The streamline profile of organically-derived materials gives spaces a more heightened appearance, along with a deeper sense of connection to nature.

From Scandinavian inspirations, light woods will make a popular comeback, especially in modern settings. Colour will play a big part in our interiors, as opting for happy and bright tones can revitalize the spirit of a home. There doesn’t have to be a lot of colour, but some contrast will elevate the interiors to another level. Quieter background colours will be balanced with bursts of vibrant hues, especially in lobbies and party rooms. As colour trends evolve into 2021, selecting colours that enliven a space is truly important in uplifting our mental states and helping us to move forward in our “new normalcy.” While many are escaping to the great outdoors as a source of tranquility and calm, there are also ways to bring a sense of peace and harmony to the indoors. Decorating with live plants rather than faux will strengthen the human-nature connection and has the added perk of purifying our air supplies. Our interior spaces are so important for our well-being and for the prevention of disease. With this in mind, Kravet is doing their part with their bleach cleanable fabrics, such as Crypton, Stakleen, Inside Out, Silicone and Extreme Performance. These fabrics are typically used in healthcare environments; however, they are contract-viable and should be considered for upholstery and window treatments in residential settings too. Electric curtain track systems for drapery are also a great idea to prevent people from touching the fabric panels. They can be operated from smartphones, tablets or remote controls. As we embrace the current situation, it makes us more aware of how we are

connected, how we interact with one another and when we must be mindful of another person’s space. Subtle visual cues, such as a pattern on a floor or directional stickers, can make all the difference in encouraging residents to walk in a certain path. Furthermore, creating safe spaces where residents can safely pick up and drop off packages and other materials is imperative, as online shopping has skyrocketed during this time. Lastly, with more people working from home, co-working spaces in condominiums have become vital, coveted spaces. Mood-lifting use of colour, unexpected patterns, modular furniture and task lighting are all considerations when designing these coherent, focused atmospheres. Condominium amenities typically improve quality of life and provide a lifestyle and sense of community to its residents. Now, equally regarded is the health and safety of its owners. As designers and architects broaden and shape these spaces, we are encouraged to think beyond the standard and find unconventional materials and incorporate them in the condominium’s aesthetic lexicon. Darlene Janeiro is principal of Darlene Janeiro Design Group Inc. She specializes in condominium refurbishment projects, with more than 15 years of experience in the design industry. Her entrepreneurial leadership style and extensive knowledge of home décor and design trends is paramount to serve her impressive roster of residential and commercial clientele | October 2020 21


Reliable Systems for the Long Run

Why preventative maintenance is critical to your bottom line It’s no secret that a well-executed preventive maintenance program can go a long way toward reducing the overall costs associated with operating a condominium building. In fact, some experts believe that preventing problems before they occur can extend a building’s annual operating budget by a significant amount per year.

One of those experts is Jonathan Rebelo, Project Engineer with RJC Engineers. Rebelo, who’s executed countless building upgrades in his career, says a solid planned maintenance program will ensure the building systems remain reliable, while limiting the risk of sudden disruption—both of which are important considerations in multiresidential settings. “Typically, a planned maintenance program includes the replacement or repair of low-cost sacrificial building systems that are intended to degrade over time so that the more expensive systems can continue to operate without

disruption,” he explains. “Much like owning a vehicle, if your break pads aren’t replaced after so many kilometres, you run the risk of them failing at the worst possible moment, resulting in catastrophic and costly repairs.” Building envelope, parking garages, and underground facilities are the main areas Rebelo recommends property managers routinely inspect. He says, "Water staining and active leaks within a building space should always be reviewed immediately, as over time what could have been a small patch job can likely turn into a more costly and avoidable full replacement program.”

Mechanical and electrical systems should also be routinely reviewed. “You want to ensure they continue to operate at their intended efficiency level, and are serviced at regular intervals," he says. “And these days it goes without saying that energy upgrades should also be considered.” COMMON PROBLEMS, EASY SOLUTIONS As simple as it may seem, Rebelo says routinely removing clogged debris from area drains is the type of thing that can significantly improve the lifespan of some building systems.


Top 3 Maintenance Tips to Stave off Costly Repairs

1. Ensure your waterproofing systems (joint sealants, expansion joint seals, traffic deck coatings, roofing membranes, building facades) are working as intended. “As soon as these systems start to fail, they allow water to penetrate into the more expensive systems behind them. This could result in water damage to finished and conditioned spaces,” says Rebelo. “Concrete and structural steel damage is very disruptive to repair, as are mechanical and electrical system failures which can cause operational nightmares. Regularly replacing or locally repairing these waterproofing systems allow the systems beneath to be well protected and ensure they continue to perform without the fear of outside damage.” “Pipe penetration and expansion joints through your building envelope are typically the weak points in these systems and should be reviewed,” he says. “Additionally, the use of de-icing chloride salts can cause corrosion of your concrete and steel systems so avoiding the use of these salts can help reduce structural costs in the future.” And for those concerned about the toll of disruption, Rebelo says these days regular maintenance can be executed in such a way that building occupants are minimally hassled. "Rapid setting materials and advancement in construction technology has come a long way," he says. “Routine preventative maintenance on your building systems can heavily extend their service lives, and in turn, avoid the need for heavily disruptive replacement costs.” CHALLENGES & BENEFITS No one wants to needlessly spend money or upset residents without due cause. To put it in perspective, here are a few of the general pros and cons: The pros A maintenance strategy can be readily budgeted and planned for, meaning unbudgeted capital costs will be limited; Typically, it is less expensive and less disruptive to maintain systems yearly than to replace a system once it has fully failed;

2. Ensure building condition assessments are performed regularly and capital expenditure plans are continuously updated. “Deferring work due to an outdated plan or budget constraints typically results in cost escalations as these systems tend to worsen overtime,” he points out. “Furthermore, work not completed per their routine schedule can overstress the surrounding systems they support, which may result in more repair costs for systems not scheduled for repair.” 3. Hire the right team and be thorough. “Nothing is worse than unaccounted surprises,” he says. “When hiring a building consultant to develop a 10- to 20-year capital expenditure plan, you want to ensure they are thorough and perform a complete review of all your building systems. An unexpected capital cost in year six of your plan that forces other maintenance programs to be deferred or cancelled is something you want to avoid.”

Proactive measures can protect the integrity of complementary building systems. The cons Planned maintenance requires more yearly coordination and operational costs.

(However; this is still likely better than all the coordination needed when the work inevitably has to happen); A maintenance strategy requires a team to execute and monitor.

For more information on how to plan and execute a preventative maintenance program, contact Jonathan Rebelo directly ( or please visit

“Routine preventative maintenance on your building systems can heavily extend their service lives, and in turn, avoid the need for heavily disruptive replacement costs.” – Jonathan Rebelo, Project Engineer, RJC Engineers



Multi-res design takes cue from commercial properties

24 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network



Modern condos weren’t designed to cope with life during a pandemic. But widespread closures of offices and public spaces have left people isolated at home, emphasizing the multi-functional and psychological needs of units and common areas. Looking at commercial facilities like workplaces, hospitals and hotels, designers and developers foresee a greater turn towards wellbeing in the vertical communities of tomorrow. | October 2020 25


Bespoke balconies respond to a human need for privacy and the great outdoors. Rendering by Norm Li.

Freddy Mak, vice-president of business development at Trulife Developments, has seen a big uptick in demand for clean living spaces in condos, arising largely from the pandemic. Along with Constantine Enterprises Inc., his company is building the first condo to rise in the Uplands neighbourhood of Thornhill, with plans for advanced building systems to address health and wellness. Their 8188 Yonge project will include upgraded air filtration units to filter fine particles, advanced water purification systems to help remove heavy metals and UV technology to halt bacteria growth. Design considerations trendier in nonresidential settings are starting to show up in people’s homes, in turn, making condos more livable post pandemic. “Things won’t necessarily be the same, and that is not a bad thing,” he says. “As developers, we are listening and adapting our projects to take into account the new normal, and focus on cleanliness protocols for our residents to feel safe in the place they will call home.” With so many people unable to travel, Mak sees outdoor amenities becoming “a bit more unique and robust in their

offerings,” to include a “luxury, hotelinspired” experience, with features such as longer pedestrian-friendly paths and outdoor meditation and yoga space. T here’s also renewed interest in balconies as daily life reshuffles. “With typical balconies across the GTA, you'll see concrete floors and glass railings,” says Mak. “Nothing wrong with that, but we've found through our extensive market research and community outreach initiatives, especially during the pandemic, there is now a huge demand from real estate buyers to purchase units with privateuse spaces that are not just for practical use, but are aesthetically pleasing.” Customizable balcony packages — one offering at 8188 Yonge — are equipped with flooring, lighting, furniture and accent pieces, with a choice of three themes. Elements like this are said to bring a sense of well-being in their attempt to fill a void that surfaced during periods of social isolation. A vast majority of Canadians feel that COVID-related stress and worry has negatively impacted their mental health, according to a survey conducted by The Conference Board of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

26 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

Plans for 8188 Yonge call for 30,000-square-feet of Rendering by Norm Li.

Much of this is attributed to anxiousness, loneliness and well-being concerns. A Flexible Focus The idea that design can curb chronic disease and promote mental health echoed through an Urban Land Institute webinar in June. Looking at impacts on human health and third-party certifications like Fitwel, panelists delved into pandemic-shaping residential design trends. Andrea DelZotto, director and executive vice-president of community development at Tridel, said a more hybrid approach to work will shape design. She sees largeenough suites incorporating more home office space, and co-working areas in buildings with smaller units. Connectivit y will also grow increasingly important as more people work and learn from home. In most of its buildings, Tridel has invested in distributed antenna systems, which provide clear service for mobile devices on every floor. “That is the number one amenity we provide, and they expect it everywhere in the building now,” she says. “It’s not just good enough in a suite.”


outdoor amenity space, including a lush garden pathway.

Implementing a public health perspective early on is a change moving forward — taking cues from hospitals and incorporating elements such as hand-washing sinks in common areas. Design is shifting to different finishes and cleanable materials that people choose in their homes, and also smart home systems with low-touch, voiceactivated technology. Hands-free smart toilets and faucets, items more likely to be found in commercial washrooms, are just two features Tridel added to its innovation suite in the Ten York condo tower, before the pandemic hit. As designers at architectural firm Quadrangle worked remotely, they visualized their homes serving multiple purposes. Prioritizing columns over shear walls allows for easy interior conversions, moving plumbing out of the space to create uber-flexible main living areas. Using principles of industrial design, modules could fold out and become a desk or bed, depending on the needs of the day. “There was an idea that suites are only designed to be outward facing, but what if you started to animate the corridors and provide a slide light so you could have light coming from both sides,

Co-working space designed for 181 East in North York will serve a growing population of office-free residents. It comes with private workspaces and a meeting room. Rendering courtesy of Stafford Homes.

and start to encourage connections,” said Michelle Xuereb, director of innovation at Quadrangle. “Walking down the hallway, you would be able to tell if your neighbour was home or not home.” A balcony that closes inwards during certain times of the year, like a sunroom of sorts where one could grow vegetables, is an idea Xuereb visualizes. “Imagine, you could open them to the outside and close them in the winter time, so you have this buffer space.” The fresh air a balcony provides, also a key factor of wellbeing, is accessible through green roofs and community gardening, which currently adds to the social aspect at Tridel’s Aqualina, MRKT Alexandra Park and Evermore at West Village in Toronto. DelZotto said these spaces should remain flexible for programming. “If we have outdoor amenity space that’s only really usable in the summer, find ways to make it adaptable through four seasons.” Just as universities harvest produce from their rooftop gardens to supplement food for other parts of the campus, so can multi-res buildings. As Xuereb imagines, adding fruit trees is one way to integrate food into a community.

Transforming Underutilized Spaces Looking at revitalizing areas that often go unrecognized, Xuereb envisions distributing amenity space on every floor within the building, spread throughout corridors to make them usable, with little niches of space to spend time in. “Our hallways and elevators are really just treated like super highways,” she noted. “We really need to start thinking about those spaces in between so we can think about community building as a part of it.” Those in-between spaces extend to stairways, swapping concrete and steel handrails for colour and natural light — perhaps even music — as a way to connect people and encourage physical activity. New additions to common areas, as DelZotto imagines, include Zoom rooms for people working remotely, retreat spaces for mental health and personal mobility in the form of e-bike share programs. “The days of putting in amenities and a property manager are long gone; you need to program these spaces,” she said. “These benign spaces are really underutilized and we have this amazing community. How do we let them benefit from it? How do we connect the people in it?” | October 2020 27

FEATURE A Youth Zone at MRKT Alexandra Park is d esig ne d to b e flexi ble, so teens, adolescents and adults can both study and work. Rendering courtesy of Tridel.

Physical inactivity and social isolation are comparable to smoking as the leading causes of preventable death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Bikesharing programs are one way to get residents moving. Photo courtesy of Tridel.

Referring to MLS systems, engagement in a building might one day become criteria similar to WiredScore or a Walk Score. “It's important to a lot of people and lifesaving in some circumstances,” she added. “The more urban and dense we live, the more isolated we are — ironically. That is something important that we solve for and that we really try to put a measurement around.”

Fitwel for Condos “Where you liv e h a s a d i r e c t a n d measurable impact on all aspects of health: your physical health, mental health and social cohesion, trust with neighbours, for instance,” said Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the Centre for Active Design. As an advocate of Fitwel certification, she discussed how to shape residential living to

28 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

prioritize health, much like a company would do with its corporate interiors to amplify workplace wellness. Fitwel came onto the scene in 2017 as a way to measure the physical, emotional and mental well-being of employees through targeted improvements to design and operational policies. Much of the same can apply to a condo. It promotes strategies shown to have the greatest impact on health, which can be woven through an existing building or during construction. Some design elements include outdoor access, enhanced indoor air quality, on-site health promotion programming, soliciting feedback from residents to integrate into management practices and adding and maintaining greenery. For example, higher levels of neighbourhood green spaces are associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety and stress. How well they’re maintained is a crucial indicator whether someone is going to trust you or not, noted Frank. Greenery on a property that is well maintained will increase levels of trust by eight per cent. Poor maintenance lowers levels by -11 per cent. There are also specific strategies to help residents optimize their space for sleep. Thermal control, air quality, acoustic comfort and managing exposure to outdoor light are a few. Encouraging the use of daylight for work-from-home spaces and established cleaning schedules are also key. “It is very important that cleaning staff are visible and are also prepared and understand the underlying strategies you’re using to protect residents,” she said. “It will not only mitigate viral transmission but build trust and solidify that relationship between you and your tenants. If property management has enhanced cleaning practices and implemented efforts to improve air quality, but no one knows about it, the potential mental health impacts are being lost.” 1

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Developer avoids liability after cancelling condo project The recent Ontario court decision in Ritchie v Castlepoint Greybrook


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condominium developers who must cancel their projects prior to construction. In granting judgment, Justice Perell dismissed a proposed class action brought on behalf of purchasers of 179 units in a condominium project. The project had been terminated by its developer and the purchasers’ deposits were refunded with interest prior to construction. The purchasers of the pre-construction units sued for damages of over $10 million representing the increased market value in their units following entry into their purchase agreements. The project was terminated because the developer said that it was unable to comply with the contractual condition that it obtain financing by December 28, 2018. The

purchase agreements went on to state that in the event of termination for failure to satisfy the conditions, the purchasers would receive back their deposits with interest. In its letter to purchasers giving notice of termination, the developer stated that “we will not be in a position to obtain the nec ess ar y municip al ap provals and permits required to build Museum FLTS in the foreseeable future. As such and with the passage of time, the now untenable project timetable has rendered the project commercially un-financeable.” Castlepoint’s evidence in cour t was that rising construction costs made the condominium financially unviable, as a

30 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

project projected to generate negative returns would not qualify for financing. Each purchase agreement contained an exculpatory clause — also called an “exclusion clause” — which stated that if the agreement was terminated, the developer would not be liable for any damages resulting from the termination of the agreement. The purchasers disputed the enforceability of this clause and sought damages. Their primary position was that the developer had not taken all reasonable steps to advance the project and that the developer had therefore breached its duty to perform its contractual obligations in good faith. Thus, it would be improper to permit the developer to use the


exclusion clause to avoid its duty of good faith. Once challenged, exclusion clauses are enforceable only if they pass a multistage review by the court, which includes considering whether the clause was “unconscionable” at the time it was made, or whether its enforcement would contravene public policy. In Ritchie, the court held that the exclusion clause applied to limit the developer’s liability, regardless of whether the developer had acted in good faith — no actual finding was made as to good faith. Further, the clause was found not to be unconscionable and did not contravene public policy. The court held that where developers breach their obligations to take reasonable steps on a project, the purchasers’ remedy may be limited to a right to recover their deposits with interest and not a claim for damages. In the court’s view, this was a fair and reasonable remedy. As a result, the developer’s motion to dismiss the class action was granted. The purchasers are now appealing. This decision will have significant implications for both condominium developers and purchasers. While the purchasers claimed

that a failure to act in good faith should nullify the exclusion clause, the court’s decision means that a failure to act in good faith does not limit or restrict the exclusion clause’s application. Regardless of whether the developer was actually entitled to rely on the failure to obtain financing, the exclusion clause applies to limit damages. Developers will take great comfort from this decision, knowing that the decision and reasons for the cancellation of a project will not be subject to court review, provided the agreements of purchase and sale contain an exclusion clause and provided the Ritchie case is upheld on appeal. There is considerable caselaw on the duty of good faith performance in contractual dealings. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the 1985 case of Greenberg v Meffert that where a contractual condition is within the sole discretion of one party, the discretion must be exercised honestly, reasonably and in good faith. The Greenberg case was not discussed in Ritchie which now effectively limits the application of the Greenberg doctrine because an exclusion clause can

trump or limit the consequences of the bad faith exercise of a sole discretion. As the purchasers’ only remedy for a bad faith breach of their agreement is the return of their deposits with interest, the exclusion clause outweighs or nullifies a developer’s contractual obligation to exercise its discretion in good faith, essentially rendering this obligation virtually meaningless. Finally, exclusion clauses will now operate to provide considerable protection against class actions by purchasers, which pose a substantial threat to developers when terminating condominium projects. As the purchasers have appealed this decision, the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal will be of great significance for sellers and buyers in the condominium market. 1 David Taub is a partner at Robins Appleby LLP. He has extensive experience in business litigation where he represents developers and builders, lenders, banks, insurance companies, entrepreneurial developers and builders, manufacturers, and commercial landlords. | October 2020 31


Upgrading Parking Garage Safety The underground garage is the largest BY HOLDEN JOHNSON common element in most condominiums, but it is often overlooked when it comes to meeting basic safety criteria. W ith residents spending ver y lit tle time in the parking garage, along with the headache of having to arrange for temporary parking permits, coordinate the moving of vehicles and find a qualified contractor available to do the job on time, it’s easy to see why such projects are postponed year after year. Yet upgrades can be completed with minimal disruption and will improve the safety and security of residents and visitors. Here are three simple ways condo corporations can upgrade the safety of the underground garage, and the benefits of doing so. Improve Visibility Two main ways to increase visibility are through lighting and painting (coatings). Bright lights such as fluorescent lights and LEDs can help people easily spot approaching vehicles and vice versa. In addition, with a new coating over dim, faded or peeling surfaces with bold new colours that reflect light back, residents can effectively multiply the value of their investment as the new luminance of underground garage creates a safe and inviting area. Present Clear Markings The colour scheme seen in parking garages that are up-to-code is the result of coordinating multiple bylaws; for example, municipal property standards, fire code, building code, and health and safety codes. A n d w h i l e t h e re m a y b e s l i g h t differences among municipalities, the common requirements specify that:

• Ceilings and walls are to be devoid of cracks, holes and loose paint. • Ceilings and vertical surfaces, such as walls and pillars, must be painted white, with a 60 cm black dado on all perimeter walls, bays and pillars. • O verhead pipes, which are of ten uncoated and left to rust, are required to be colour- coded and protected from corrosion. Ensuring that pipes are maintained and marked correctly is important to visually differentiate plumbing, gas and sprinkler pipes. • Emergency exits must be clearly indicated with highly visible signage and painted green. Providing clear directions towards

32 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

the exits, as well as signage and directional arrows indicating the flow of traffic, will help reduce wandering in the garage, as well as help ensure traffic flows in the right direction. Provide an Anti-Slip Surface Bare concrete can become a slip hazard on floors, ramps and stairs, especially on rainy days and from snow transported inside during the winter months. Installing an epoxy or other specialty anti-slip coating is an effective way to provide residents and visitors with the grip they need, whether they are driving or walking.


Advantages of a Well-Maintained Garage Decreased maintenance costs: Investing in the maintenance of an underground garage can help reduce unexpected repair bills and keep costs manageable. Certain specialty coatings may help reduce problems associated with moisture, which is often the cause of chipping, cracking, cratering and rust found in underground garages. They may also protect against stains from motor oil, anti-freeze, as well as other chemical fluids from leaky vehicles — making floors easier to clean and maintain. Health and Safety: Adequate lighting, colour- coded walls, pipes and other surfaces, as well as proper signage and anti-slip coating are all great ways to ensure the safety of visitors and residents while also reducing the potential liability of the corporation. How to Plan Garage Maintenance Timing: While an underground garage p ro j e c t c a n b e c o m p l ete d a t a ny time during which the temperature is consistently above 5 C, early in the year is best, before the annual spring clean up. Because the surface preparation involves sanding rusting pipes, scraping loose paint chips and power washing the ceiling and vertical surfaces, scheduling the annual garage cleaning after the painting will ensure that any remaining debris is cleared away. It is also easier to obtain street parking permits in the spring before road closures due to festivals, marathons or road construction begins. Contractors: Like any coating system, preparation is key to a quality finish. Even premium products may fail when the surface is not prepared thoroughly. Underground garages are not painted of ten, so it is imp or t ant to ensure that contractors are experienced and have references to back up their work to achieve the most value. Q u alit y contractors may cost a little more but are better equipped to deliver a quality finish, while staying on schedule to minimize resident disruption. 1

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Rebate extension postpones hydro cost hit News comes with Ontario’s announced electricity rate increase for Nov. 1

Many condominium corporations and rental housing landlords in Ontario


received a six-month reprieve from a looming hydro cost hit when Minister of Energy Greg Rickford announced that large accounts specifically linked to electricity used in buildings’ common areas will remain eligible for the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) until April 30, 2021. Common area accounts registering more than 50 kilowatts (kW) of demand or 250,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of annual consumption had been scheduled to lose the benefit — currently a 31.8 per cent pretax discount on electricity consumption and regulated transmission/distribution charges — on November 1. Now, they’ve been granted an extension that comes with an improved rate since the

provincial government intends to increase the rebate apportionment to 33.2 per cent on November 1. That’s likely to be particularly welcome, at least in the short term, as hydro rates for all residential, farm and small commercial customers are slated to rise on the same date. “As we recover from COVID-19, our government remains focused on supporting Ontarians by keeping the cost of electricity

34 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

affordable,” Rickford said, as he also outlined a planned new program to improve energy efficiency in low-income households along with expanded eligibility criteria for onetime grants through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program. COVID-19-prompted hiatus of flat rates ends October 31 Nevertheless, the fall/winter schedule of the

ENERGY Regulated Price Plan (RPP), which the Ontario Energy Board likewise revealed, reintroduces time-of-use rates at higher price points than prior to the COVID-19-prompted hiatus that will end on October 31. Notably, the peak rate, applying from 7 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., will jump from 20.8 cents per kWh at the beginning of this year to 21.7 cents/kWh for fall 2020/winter 2021. Pending new rates for off-peak hours at 10.5 cents/kWh and the mid-peak period at 15 cents/kWh compare to 10.1 cents/kWh and 14.4 cents/kWh previously. For the first time, RPP customers can alternatively opt for tiered prices, with higher rates kicking in after the first 1,000 kWh of monthly consumption for residential customers or 750 kWh for non-residential customers. That will be set at 12.6 cents/kWh and 14.6 cents/kWh on either side of those thresholds. The OEB estimates either choice should result in bills that are about 2 per cent higher for the average residential consumer, even when accounting for the upward adjustment in the rebate. Rate increases are attributed to the need to collect a greater share of the global adjustment — the opaque envelope of locked-in costs for contracted supply, nuclear facility refurbishment and conservation and demand management (CDM) programs — from RPP customers because demand has dropped across the entire electricity system, and also to make up for the shortfall that accumulated over the past 7+ months while customers have been charged flat rates. “The OEB has decided to spread collection of this shortfall over two years to ease the impact on consumers,” its backgrounder on the new rates reports. “If the collection had been spread over 12 months, as is typically the case, the electricity costs recovered through RPP prices would have been roughly 1.6 per cent higher.”

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Rebate withdrawal based on OEB’s interpretation of enabling regulation Many condo boards and rental housing landlords had been bracingEnfield_Condo_October_2015.indd for 1 an upward spike on their hydro bills due to the OEB’s interpretation of how the Ontario Electricity Rebate should be applied. In a memo issued last December, the OEB determined that common area accounts surpassing 50 kW of demand or 250,000 kWh of annual usage would not qualify after the one-year transitional period expired on October 31, 2020, even though the rebate would apply on all the same electricity-using elements for any amount of consumption in bulk-metered buildings where a single account covers all residential suites and common areas. In a follow-up explanation provided to a rental housing landlord earlier this year, the OEB’s industry relations liaison pointed to the wording of the enabling regulation — enacted in October 2019 to facilitate introduction of the new more substantive replacement for the previous 8 per cent provincial rebate — for the seeming inequitable treatment of buildings with the same functions and types of occupants. While most readers see the section as an affirmation that occupants of large multi-residential buildings are entitled to the same rebate that hydro account holders in single family dwellings receive, the OEB draws further nuanced distinctions around the regulation’s Your plumbing & reference to “solely in respect of a multi-unit complex” that contains mechanical service at least two qualifying units and in which at least 50 per cent of the experts units qualify. “Applying the eligibility criteria set out in the Regulation, the entire building, including the common areas, of a residential condominium building that is bulk-metered by a distributor (whether sub-metered or not) would qualify for the OER as long as there are at least two

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“In our case, the hydro cost for common areas represents 7.5 per cent of our total expenses. Cutting the rebate would result in a 2.5 per cent increase in our total expenses, if all the other expenses remain constant.”

qualifying units, and that at least 50 per cent of the units in the building are qualifying units,” the OEB’s explanation states. “If the same building was individually metered by the distributor (i.e. unit smart metering), each account would have to be assessed on an individual basis as to whether it meets the eligibility criteria (i.e. the 50 kilowatt demand or 250,000 kWh annual consumption). In this case, if the common area account(s) did not meet the thresholds, these accounts would not qualify for the OER because it does not contain any qualifying units.” Ramifications flow through to condo fees For condo owners, the ramifications of that interpretation flow directly to their fees. For example, the common area account for Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation (TSCC) #1645, a 34-storey, 377-unit tower in the city’s north Yonge Street corridor, typically records about 200,000 kWh of monthly consumption — presenting the condo board’s budget committee with the challenge of where to find the funds to cover a 30+ per cent increase on that bill. “In our case, the hydro cost for common areas represents 7.5 per cent of our total expenses,” reports Maryam Maleki, a member of

that committee. “Cutting the rebate would result in a 2.5 per cent increase in our total expenses, if all the other expenses remain constant.” Many other condo boards throughout the province have been facing similar challenges. “We provide our clients with templates that have the OER timing in them. So impacted sites were calling me to say: Hey, I think your template is wrong because our costs look like they are going up like crazy,” recounts Rob Detta Colli, manager of energy and sustainability with Crossbridge Condominium Services. “I’d explain: ‘No, the templates aren’t wrong’, which then leads to another explanation about what’s happening with the OER.” The newly announced rebate extension does not overturn the OEB’s interpretation, but it does give those who question its logic more time to make their case. That includes a range of stakeholders from condominium boards and unit owners to rental housing landlords and investors to energy efficiency advocates concerned about potential negative impact on the uptake of unit sub-metering. 1 Barbara Carss is editor-in-chief of Canadian Property Management.

“For condo owners, the ramifications of that interpretation flow directly to their fees.”

36 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network





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Industry Wary of Supply Chain Disruptions Over the past few months, it’s grown evident

that the pandemic has prompted supply chain disruptions that could affect the planning of capital projects in condominiums. Some sectors are “suffering more than others” and some companies within those sectors are experiencing greater setbacks, Mina Tesseris, senior forensic engineer at Arbitech Inc., said during a recent CCI Huronia webinar about the current state of condo communities. The lumber and pre-cast concrete industries are examples he pointed to as clogging the flow of equipment and materials onto job sites. Two-by-eight pressure-treated wood is hard to find, while the backlogs in the pre - cast concrete industry resulted in projects, slated to begin in summer, being set back due to COVID-19. “A lot of the facilities producing pre-cast concrete were shut down, or on reduced hours or labour,” he said. “That’s starting to catch up with us now.” He’s finding some manufacturers within the roofing industry, shingle supply for instance, are very slow to deliver, while others have not been affected at all.

38 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

“Were also seeing delays at the border with products coming from the U.S. and that is affecting projects as well in terms of delivery times.” There are a few items condos, and contractors, should consider when planning and delivering a project. “From a planning perspective, you’ll definitely want to check on availability of materials before you go to tender; talk to the manufacturers, talk to the vendors, see what the delivery times are for the materials and whether or not they are available. You don’t want to be specifying materials that aren’t going to be available when needed and delay the project.” During construction, contractors should ensure that they’re proactively ordering materials. “In the past, we were working on a just-in-time type of system, where materials were delivered to the job site or ordered and expected to be delivered to the job site when needed,” he said. “Now, there is potential for delays. Planning ahead and receiving materials in advance will help minimize some of those risks.” 1


Reserve Fund Budgeting: A Fan Coil Unit Retrofit One of the most under add re s s e d issues in aging


condominiums is the fan coil unit (FCU). Residents often take an “out

of sight, out of mind” approach because FCUs live behind the walls, forgotten until an issue arises. Some of the most common issues that bring awareness to larger FCU problems include inconsistent temperatures, motor noises, mechanical failure, odours, excessive condensate causing leaks and in bad situations, flooding and the worst, mould. These issues can create substantial problems for a condominium because an FCU is connected to other aspects of the building, including the riser systems, boilers, chillers and make-up air units, all of which control the overall indoor air comfort and quality. Retrofitting FCUs in an entire condominium is a significant undertaking, costing anywhere between $500,000 to more than $2 million, depending on the size of the building. FCUs are typically managed one of two ways. They can be owned by either the individual suite owner or the corporation. If owned by the suite owner, he or she is individually responsible for repairs and replacement, and the corporation is only responsible for common area units. But because of potential damage caused by flooding, the corporation often takes responsibility for maintenance. “It’s a grey area and should be clearly d e f i n e d ,” s a y s A d r i a n A b r a m o v i c , P. E n g . o f Tr i n i t y E n g i n e e r i n g & C onsulting Inc . “In the m ajorit y of buildings, the corporation will cover bi - annual maintenance to ensure the inspections are being completed. Preventative maintenance is ver y important, on new and older FCUs; as one FCU’s neglect may have negative consequences for the entire building.”

Abramovic has experience working with corporations who took ownership of the in - suite FCUs and funded the complete retrofit. Reserve Fund Budgeting If the corporation owns the FCUs, it is responsible for maintenance, repairs and retrofitting the entire building. This ensures the FCUs are reliable, limits property damage and allows for budgeting end-oflife replacement. Based on engineering opinions, roughly 10 to 40 per cent of condo corporations in Ontario own their FCUs. In these buildings, boards need to account for retrofit project costs through their reserve funds, not operating budgets. Creating a fan coil retrofit line item in the HVAC category of the reserve fund can proactively account for a project. The general life expectancy of an FCU is 20 years. “ T he reser ve fund is for m ajor replacement or overhaul of common elements,” says Andrew Potter, P. Eng., owner of IN Consulting. “We have seen some condos use reserve funds for general maintenance and repair, which should come out of the operating budget. This leads to a shortfall in reserve funds, which will require a significant increase in future contributions or even a special assessment when a major repair is required”. In the event a condo board has not adequately allocated funds, it may have to consider doing the following: hire an external expert to perform a special assessment, replace the fan coil units in phases, raise

maintenance fees, raise contributions to the reserve budget fund or all the aforementioned. Replacing in phases can be problematic as managers and contractors change over time, and consistency is important to a successful project. This can also lead to maintenance issues as different manufacturers use different components. One of the main ways a board contributes to its reserve budget is through maintenance fees, but how much can you increase fees to compensate for a project of this magnitude? The Condominium Act of Ontario mandates all registered condominiums perform a reserve fund study every three years. If you are underfunded, consider the age of your building and the FCUs so you can begin allocating funds, starting the next reserve fund study, to prevent the need of a special assessment or increased maintenance fees. All buildings — aging or new construction — should perform regular reserve fund studies and include fan coil replacement as a line item under HVAC equipment. Doing this early will ensure boards are financially set up to perform the retrofit when the existing units reach the end of their life expectancy. Including specific line items within your reserve fund with proper funds allocated over years will prevent potential emergencies that could result in liabilities, lawsuits, insurance claims and damages. 1 Melissa Kois is the manager of marketing and business development operations at Unilux CRFC Corporation. | October 2020 39



Home has taken on new meaning

for condo-dwellers these past few months. Even hallways are no longer just a space for passing through, but an aesthetic gateway to a space where people now spend more time working and living. Ensuring common elements remain in great condition helps to instill a sense of pride in the community, and there are many budgetfriendly upgrades that can help make big visual impacts. Condo suite doors represent such a significant design opportunity. Whether they are painted or stained, it won’t take long to experience

40 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


a return on this investment. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when undertaking a door refinishing project. Paint vs Stain When deciding between paint and stain, a condo board can sometimes base its decision on a love of quality wood doors. They may choose a stain, feeling it would be a shame to cover the wood with paint. But paint gives endless colour options and typically has


a fast-drying time. An oil-based paint can be touched in six to eight hours and is ready for a second coat after 24 hours. Latex paints dry quicker; they can be touched after approximately one hour and can be re-coated after four hours. With stain, depending on the type chosen, drying times can range from six hours to 24 hours and longer. Stain colours are available in solid, semi-transparent and transparent finishes, but colour choices are often limited and depend on what is already on the door. It is possible to stain a door a darker colour, but it is not easy to lighten the colour without taking the surface down to its base. Although veneer is another option that can be applied, it’s typically more expensive than replacing the door. That being said, modern veneer options are dazzling in their range of options and can make a ho-hum door resemble a palace. Veneers can also be cut on angles, giving the unexpected look of fancy inlay and marquetry. It’s a matter of what the condo board is willing to invest in. Veneers require very skilled and specially trained tradespeople. In 99% of cases, the choice is still between paint or stain. On-Trend Colours Door colour emotes the mood for the building, from inviting or stately to trendy or traditional. The doors must also work well with the carpeting and wall covering so there are no conflicts. For 2020, colour trends are two different extremes: darks and lights. Cooler and browner tones are also popular, making it tricky to update reddish stains from a decade ago. Although it’s challenging to move from a dark to light tone, it’s much easier to transform residents’ doors from light to dark. Trending light, look for colours like fruitwoods and ash grey tones. Warm blonde and ashy colours are popular overall. For dark stains, the key is to go more neutral, less red. Cherry wood doors could be stained ebony and look very chic and up to date. The board will typically work with a designer to narrow down the colour options to two alternatives and, sometimes, allow the owners to vote, along with the other elements of the refurbishment. Keeping Residents In The Loop Like any other refurbishment project, communicating with residents is key, and clarity ensures the project will go as smoothly as possible. Communicate with them about the time it will take, the process and all the steps. Many of today’s paints are low odour and low VOC, but giving residents advance notice can allow them to make alternate arrangements if necessary. The negative pressure in many buildings often means that dust and fumes will be pulled into the unit. As for noise, door refinishing is a relatively quiet operation. In most cases, some light sanding will be done with a palm sander to prepare the surface. When it comes to scheduling a refurbishment project, suite doors are typically one of the first elements to tackle. In an ideal situation, the doors, walls and carpet are all being re-done, so while carpet is removed, the doors can be painted or stained, with new carpet installed afterwards. If not, then a proper floor and door jamb or frame protection must be in place. Following hardware removal, the current finish or paint should be sanded off the door. If stain is chosen, two coats should be

applied. If paint is used instead, priming the door before paint application ensures a better finish is produced. Some advanced paints combine these two steps into one, which is more costly but saves time and labour. Proper application requires that the door stays ajar for several hours to allow the edges to dry properly. Several reminders leading up to the refurbishment project are often necessary. With thorough communication and good choices, the project will result in a higher value and stay appealing for years to come. 1 Samantha Angel is creative director and CEO with Folio Interior Design Group Inc. Samantha is a graduate of OCAD (Material Art & Design Faculty) and a member of Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). Her more recent work experience in the condo industry from the construction side has provided her with a well-rounded approach in dealing with industry stakeholders. Peter VanSickle acts as a design consultant with Folio Interior Design Group. While working on developmental projects through North America, Peter amassed vast experience in space planning and knowledge of construction materials, and acted as lead retail planner for well-known Canadian retailers. Additionally, Peter is a real estate sales representative with Goldfish Real Estate Group.


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HIGH-RISE BUILDERS FLAGGED IN NEW FLOODING INSIGHT Toronto’s labyrinth of sewage and stormwater pipes was not designed for the modern era; it’s going to take time, money and commitment to fix the system. That’s the assessment of Patrick McManus, executive director of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, and Dennis Cancian, executive director of the Ontario Formwork Association, who were guests on a podcast entitled The Big Pipe — Project Plans for the Future that was released by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO).

Issue of particular concern for high-rise builders

The issue is of particular concern to builders of high-rise towers in downtown Toronto because they typically have parking garages that go down six or seven storeys and are subject to flooding if a severe thunderstorm overwhelms the system with a large amount of rainfall. “They never envisioned having these big storms and having the issues that they’re having now, and I don’t think they actually envisioned the density that they’re getting now in the downtown area,” said Cancian.

A big part of the problem, they noted, is that the system was built for a different era and, over the years, very little has been invested in underground infrastructure to increase capacity.

He notes that builders have begun making the case for aboveground parking in new high-rise buildings, which would also ensure that underground aqua flows are not disrupted by developments.

“We have what is referred to as a combined sewer system in Toronto and that is putting both household sewage and stormwater into the same pipe underneath roads,” said McManus. “In newer cities those things are built separately and are diverted into different pipes and it makes it easier to manage peak flows. But in Toronto the sewer system is designed on a very, very old model. It’s a system that’s inevitably prone to flooding, particularly as the city grows vertically and capacity of the sewer system becomes more strained.”

While the city has embarked on a multi-year plan to build a 22-kilometre-long tunnel system that will enable billions of litres of sewage and stormwater runoff to be captured, getting the system in place won’t be easy as the population is growing and building continues.

42 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

“We’re growing the sewers at the same time we’re experiencing development,” said McManus. “The sewer system is supposed to be planned out before development. Instead we’re doing these things concurrently.” 1

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