Often I have clients who have been looking for a condo online and come to me to help them buy “their perfect condo.” They are sad to learn that their “perfect condo” is actually a potentially ticking time bomb with respect to the structural problems of the building envelope.
Upfront it is important to know that no building is perfect! All buildings have moisture penetration to some degree. In some cases even newer buildings.
In Vancouver from around 1984 to 1998, the building code was changed to more of a California Style of building construction combined with the buildings sealed so well that moisture getting in could not get out. As well, buildings were not being constructed with overhangs because that would reduce the buildable square footage in the units, and they would typically have flat roofs due to height restriction in zoning bylaws. Exterior cladding of so called leaky buildings typically stucco or vinyl but can be a mixture of materials. The mixed materials can also cause a problem allowing another access point for moisture.
Water that can not get out of the building structure leads to any number of issues including rot, corrosion, mould or mildew, ruining the interior finish which can create health problems due to poor air quality and physically damaging the building.
Conservatively, I would avoid purchasing in these buildings all together. However, not every building in the community has problems. Be diligent, ask questions and get advice. Talk to professionals that can help you fully understand what you are doing before purchasing in a building that may give you big financial problems down the road. These professionals include your lender, property inspector and realtor. Each can offer advice to help guide your decision making.
A “Leaky Condo” is a condo that has structural problems that are expensive to fix. If you are on a tight budget, avoid them.