Saturday, April 20, 2013

Proposed Laws Regulating Condo Development Aim To Curb Horror Stories Caused By Builders, Converters That Peddle Problem Units To Unwitting Homebuyers

In Edmonton, Alberta, The Calgary Herald reports:

  • Changes to the Condominium Property Act won't come fast enough for Trish Millard, who worries she'll have to walk away from her Rutherford-area condo.

    She bought it new for $280,000 five years ago. Problems followed.

    First the residents discovered the attic was built without fire separations after a small fire on the third floor. The condo corporation filed a lawsuit against the developer, builder and architect.

    Last fall, a city safety inspector found their balconies did not meet the building code.

    They've added that to the $2-million lawsuit and have already spent about $70,000 in legal fees trying to recoup the cost of repairs. Millard doubts they'll see a penny. If they don't, she figures each owner will be asked to pay $40,000 to $50,000 to cover all the repairs. "I've had two financial advisers tell me to just walk away from it," she said.

    Changes to the Condominium Property Act that could protect people like Millard were in a discussion paper released in February by Service Alberta. Condo owners and others in the industry have until May 2 to give their opinions. The survey can be found online at

    Changes would affect hundreds of thousands of people living in the nearly 8,000 condo buildings in Alberta. "From top to bottom, I believe this act needs a look," said Manmeet Bhul-lar, Minister of Service Alberta. "I'm hoping for changes as soon as possible. Tell us what you think the act needs to have."
  • It's easy to find horror stories regarding structural problems in relatively new buildings. Condo residents across Edmonton have been struggling with leaky stucco applications.

    In Leduc, a long list of safety problems resulted in temporary evictions for Bellavera Green residents.

    Structural issues forced Fort McMurray's Penhorwood Condominium residents out one day at midnight.

    The problems might reflect a different system of enforcement. City safety code officers inspect single-family homes an average of 12 times at many points during construction, but for condo buildings or anything taller than three storeys, professional architects and engineers are involved, says city staff.

    Inspectors generally visit the site only for complaints or at the request of the builder, visiting a minimum of twice for inspections.

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