By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
This one’s for readers who own condominiums in Canada. Today’s blog also illustrates that condo and homeowners’ associations experience the same type of problems beyond U.S. borders and around the world.
2411 New Street, Burlington, Ontario is a 56-unit, 6-story structure that was originally constructed in 1965. In 1998, the building was approved for a renovation and conversion to condominiums.
But there was one problem, and it was a big one. When 2411 New Street was constructed in 1965, the concrete slabs separating each level were poured too thin, and without the necessary reinforcements. Over the course of 30-odd years, those slabs began to sag. But, incredibly, according to attorneys representing owners, the city of Burlington approved a condominium conversion anyway. Construction workers merely poured an additional 2-inch layer of concrete over the already sagging slabs.
Buyers purchased condo units in early 2000s in the low $100K price range. (Apparently meant to serve as affordable housing.) None of them were made aware of the recent attempt to repair failing concrete slabs. By 2007, roofers discovered structural cracks in the building. Water leaks became a problem in some of the units, too.
A structural engineer hired by the condo association in 2009 deemed the structure unsafe, and estimated the cost to repair in the millions. A complete teardown was recommended. The condo owners sued the City and other parties in 2009, and are still awaiting a trial date of 2017.
For obvious reasons, they cannot sell their units and get on with their lives. A pro bono attorney is working with condo owners to relocate them and to help make them financially whole. Be sure to watch the brief video.
Lives of Fear and Frustration: Burlington, Ontario
To make matters worse, the City and other defendants named in the lawsuit are playing the blame game. They maintain that the condo owners have failed to adequately maintain 2411 New Street. But condo owners and their attorney argue, how can you maintain a building that was not built properly from the start?
Owners have been engaged in mediation while awaiting their trial date. Some minimal repairs have been agreed upon, and even those will cost up to $770,000. Yet, according to the engineer, that won’t solve all the problems. Of course, the City of Burlington insists nothing more needs to be done.
(Ontario, Canada) Cheaper Burlington condo fix is ‘minimum repair’: engineer
As fantastically horrid as this story is, it is not uncommon. Homeowners all over the U.S. and Canada are seeing more and more problems with worn out, cheaply-thrown-together condominiums and townhouses. Many of the problems become apparent after about 15-30 years. But some unfortunate owners discover major defects within a few years of new construction, too.
The hardest hit among them are homeowners of limited income living in very modest condo units. While wealthy owners of luxury associations can afford to procure the best attorney to represent their interests, most working class residents, first-time homeowners, and retired professionals cannot afford expensive, protracted litigation.
All of these owners are plagued by chronic stress and fear, unable to afford to move on, and merely fighting for a safe and decent place to live.