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Posts tagged ‘condominium’

Exciting New Ocean View Condo Development for Sooke!

Late last month,  I was invited to a lunch event at the fabulous Markus’ Wharfside Restaurant to learn about two new development projects that will soon be breaking ground in Sooke.

Harbour View Center is the most exciting of the two. I’d venture to say it’s probably the most important development in the last 5 years, besides perhaps Sunriver Estates. It’s been at least a decade since the last condominium complex was built in Sooke, and I believe the market is desperate for some new, quality condos in Sooke.

The building will be located at Dover Street and Sooke Road on Sooke’s southern slope, just east of the town centre. This is an area that Council has designated as the major growth centre for the town, and for good reason. The gentle slope from Sooke Road down to Sooke Harbour is ideal for building beautiful ocean and mountain view homes and commercial space.


View Harbour View Center Location in a larger map

The development will feature 32 suites, most with spectacular ocean views. The non-view suites start at a very affordable price – $189,900 for 555 sqft, and prices range up to a very reasonable $399,900 for a top-floor, 1012 sqft ocean view unit. All units will feature 10 or 11 foot ceilings, granite countertops, hardwood floors, private balconies, and the complex will have underground parking – as yet unheard of in Sooke due to lack of storm sewers.

This is the first of what I hope are many affordable, quality condominium projects that will be coming available in the next few years. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to have a brand-new condominium in Sooke to live in, rent out, or as a vacation property, this is your golden opportunity. With only 32 units available, I’m fairly certain that this will sell out, and sell out fast.

For more information on how to register to reserve your unit, please contact me at 250-885-0512, Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Strata Mondays #6 – Leaky Condos Part III

In my continuing series about strata property, Strata Mondays, I answer a different question about condos, townhouses and other strata property in Victoria, Sooke, and British Columbia. Make sure you subscribe via RSS or E-mail to get each new post.

A building awaits new landscaping after membrane replacement.

A building awaits new landscaping after membrane replacement.

Q. I’m considering buying a condo in an older building here in Victoria, BC – it was built in 1978. Do I need to be worried about leaky condos and expensive repairs?

[Read Part I of this post here, and Part II here.]

A. Yes and no. While older condos built in the ’70s and ’80s are not usually subject to the systemic problems that caused premature building envelope failure, there are still things you need to know. First, “leaky condos” were caused by premature building envelope failure – with an older building there might be problems with the building envelope related to its age, necessitating a renewal project. Hopefully, over the life of the building, the strata corporation has been doing the necessary preventative maintenance.

Increasingly common with buildings of this era are problems with the underground parking garage. Leaks develop and water slowly trickles down through the suspended slab of the parkade roof and into the garage. You might wonder what the big deal is; there are always drains and no one lives down there. But over time, if left uncorrected, the water will corrode the reinforcing steel embedded in the concrete, causing concrete decay and eventual structural damage – and the condo building is built upon the garage, after all.

The footprint of the building is smaller than the footprint of the parking garage, like this:

Finally, a use for MS Paint.

Finally, a use for MS Paint.

When the building was constructed, the parking garage was built first, and then the foundation of the building on top of the suspended slab roof of the parking garage. To prevent water leakage, a waterproofing membrane was attached to the sides of the building and over the top of the parking garage. On top of the membrane, the finishing landscaping and walkways, etc, were placed:

No, I didn't even TRY to draw a car.

No, I didn't even TRY to draw a car.

Over time, depending on the quality of the membrane originally installed, leaks will develop. Roots from trees could penetrate the membrane, there could have been small holes when it was originally installed, or it could just be breaking down after so long. The only real solution to the problem is to replace the membrane. The only way to do this is to dig up all the landscaping and other surface finishing, tear off the old membrane, replace it and then re-finish the landscaping. As you can imagine, this is not cheap – it’s not like you can re-use the  the excavated trees, concrete, and dirt – there’s no room on the property. It all has to be trucked away, and then new landscaping trucked in. I know of one building in Victoria whose residents had to shell out $20,000-$30,000 to have this done.

There are cheaper “solutions” sometimes floated by strata councils who don’t want to bite the bullet and replace the membrane. If the source of the leak can be identified, the area can be excavated, and the membrane patched. However, this is a temporary solution that may or may not work, and it will only prolong the inevitable, pushing up the cost when there are no more patches to do.

So, as a condo buyer, you should carefully examine the strata council minutes and find out if parkade waterproofing is an issue. If there has been an engineer’s report in the last few years you should carefully examine it. If there is no evidence in the strata records, you should specifically as your property inspector to have a look at the underground parking for potential leaks. You could also ask your REALTOR® if he or she knows whether or not the parking waterproofing has been replaced.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Strata Mondays #5 – Leaky Condos Part II

In my continuing series about strata property, Strata Mondays, I answer a different question about condos, townhouses and other strata property in Victoria, Sooke, and British Columbia. Make sure you subscribe via RSS or E-mail to get each new post.

A leaky condo undergoing repairs

A leaky condo undergoing repairs

Q. I’ve heard that most of the systemic problems that caused the leaky condo crisis in the 90’s have been fixed. What’s changed since 1999? Are there still leaky condos being built?

A. [Read Part I of this post here] Changes in building design and technology and the building code have come into effect since the end of the 1990’s. Instead of thinking of the building as one system that needs to be sealed up to prevent air loss and thus reduce energy costs, we now consider two separate systems: the exterior wall and the building envelope. The building envelope includes the roof and exterior cladding. Building codes now require an airspace between the exterior cladding (such as hardi-plank siding or stucco) and the exterior wall (covered by a water-tight membrane like building paper or Tyvek®). The idea is to allow airflow in behind the cladding to dry out  any accumulated moisture, while at the same time creating a means by which any wind-driven rain can drain out via gravity. See below:

You may hear the term "Rainscreen" in new or remediated buildings.

You may hear the term "Rainscreen" in new or remediated buildings.

It should be noted that you can’t blame the leaky condo crisis in BC entirely on the building code. It has been discovered in many court cases regarding leaky buildings that the exteriors of some buildings were not built to the code that was in place at the time. However, it certainly was a contributing factor.

Many of the leaky buildings built during the leaky condo era have been remediated at great expense to the owners. Typically they now employ some sort of rainscreen construction as detailed above. Most will be without problems, as long as a regular maintenance programme is put into place and followed. In fact, the warranty that comes along with a remediation is usually contingent upon a proper maintenance schedule.

When shopping with a REALTOR® for condos, especially those built in the 1990s, you should ask whether or not the building has undergone remediation, and inspect all documents that lead up to the work being done, including the engineer’s report. There are some buildings in Victoria and vicinity that have not been remediated, but instead opted for a “preventative maintenance” programme that will end up costing them more money in the end.

In British Columbia, anything built with a building permit filed after July 1, 1999 must come with a ten year new home warranty. Usually these come in a 2-5-10 or 2-10-10 format: 2 years materials and labour on the home – this would cover things like nail pops, cabinetry, and other deficiencies. 5 or 10 years on the building envelope system, the exterior cladding and weather barrier of the home, and 10 years on the major structural components of the home.

What about condos built these days? Do they still leak? Hard to say. I’d tend to reason that if there was still widespread and systemic premature building envelope failures happening in modern construction, we’d be hearing a lot more about it on the news. I’m sure there are probably a few recently built buildings where there has been water ingress issues, but nowhere near the magnitude experienced last decade.

Check back next Monday for Part III, when we’ll talk about another type of leaky condo you don’t always hear about!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Some Interesting Victoria Condo Statistics

Cook Street Village in the Fall

Cook Street Village in the Fall

One of the things I like about our real estate market is that it’s small enough that I can be confident selling homes and acreages here in Sooke where I live, and also helping people move to other regions in the Victoria Area. I started selling real estate in Vancouver, and it is much harder to do, due to the vastly larger geographic area of the region.

One of the challenges of a career in real estate is dealing with unforeseen problems. Case in point, yesterday. I have some clients that were supposed to close and move into their first condo in Victoria yesterday. I helped get them a great price on a large two bedroom right in Cook Street Village – an awesome location. As their notary was about to register title, she was reading through the strata minutes and came upon a notice dated about 2 weeks ago (well after we’d finalized the contract and removed conditions) that the strata council had called a special general meeting for next week to consider a vote to restrict the building to those aged 55 and older. While the bylaw, if passed, wouldn’t affect my clients (they’d be “grandfathered”), it may affect their ability to sell the unit when the time comes. No one bothered to tell either the listing REALTOR® or I about the proposed change.

Naturally, they were quite upset about it, and investigated whether they had a legal right to walk away from the contract, which they didn’t want to do because this is the perfect place for them. Their legal rights are pretty slim, since the Contract doesn’t provide for this sort of a situation, and functionally, it’s the same as if the noticed was delivered the day after they moved in, which could happen at any time.

To help ease their minds, I ran a few statistics for 55+ condos vs regular condos in Victoria over the past year. I really couldn’t find a conclusive difference in the selling price; in fact, it appeared that 55+ units sold for more than this unit on a per-square-foot basis.

So I thought I’d look at it from a different angle. Surely, if you restrict a building to those aged 55 and older, you’re cutting out a good chunk of your market and it should take longer to sell, right? Wrong! I found virtually NO difference in the days on market for comparable 55+ condos and regular condos in Victoria. Average time on market is about 66 days for each in the past year.

That being said, I still think it’s a bad idea for condominiums and their strata councils to restrict places based on age unless it’s a specifically-designed retirement community (assisted living, for example). Any way you look at it, you’re cutting out a good portion of your market, and with the number of condos on the market in Victoria increasing all the time, your pool of potential buyers starts to get pretty thin.

Instead, why not deal with the issues directly? Is the problem that you’re worried about noise? Enact a noise bylaw and enforce it! Parties? Same thing – enforce a bylaw! Personally, I’d rather live in a building that has mostly older folks in it – I enjoy my peace and quiet. There are better ways to control the “problems” from younger residents than barring them completely.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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NOTICE: Don't Buy This Condo!

One of the most popular forms of property ownership in the marketplace today is strata titled property. To most, this means a condominium unit, townhouse, or 1/2 duplex. Strata property is a way of dividing up one large building (for example, a condominium complex) into individual titles (the units inside the building) so that they can be owned independently of one another. A strata unit typically consists of everything inside the exterior walls and dividing walls of a particular unit in a building. Also, each strata unit owner is allocated a proportional share (depending on unit size) of the common property of the development. Typically, this includes the exterior walls, roof, driveways, parking areas, amenities like swimming pools, etc. Everyone shares in the maintenance and repairs of these assets, coming out of funds raised by paying monthly strata fees.

Every strata council is different. Some are very strict, some are very relaxed. Some are proactive, and ensure maintenance is done and necessary monies are spent to keep the building sparkling like new. Others are not, and allow the building to fall into disrepair, necessitating large special levies to repair things when they finally become unserviceable.

I was showing a condo to a buyer not long ago. I had heard good things about the building, that the owners and council were very proactive and up-to-date on repairs and maintenance. It showed when we pulled up to the building. The landscaping was neatly groomed, the front door was clean and free of fingerprints and grime, the lobby was spotless and I noticed that the 80’s-era building had had a recent makeover with new light fixtures, carpets, and paint.

Then we entered the elevator. On the wall was a large notice (I paraphrase):

NOTICE:

We all know that there have been several undesirable individuals who have been hanging around our building. It has been made aware to Council that several of these people are HIV positive, and thus hepatitis must also be a concern. DO NOT APPROACH THESE INDIVIDUALS! Call 911 if you are approached!

Naturally, my buyer was turned off instantly and I was quite embarrassed. If you lived in the building, would you want the first impression of your home to be a place that “undesirables” frequent when your friends and family arrive? What if you were the seller of this particular unit? Or his or her agent? Would you want this to be the first impression a potential buyer has?

While it was good of the council to inform the residents of the building about these problematic people, a public notice is not the place for it! A letter under the door of each unit would get the message across more discretely and would guarantee that every resident received the warning.

Often these issues can be brought to the attention of the overzealous council without drama or incident. Remember, the council members are owners too, and likely want to preserve their best interests as well.

Live in a strata? What’s your council like? Comment below!

Tim Ayres


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NOTICE: Don’t Buy This Condo!

One of the most popular forms of property ownership in the marketplace today is strata titled property. To most, this means a condominium unit, townhouse, or 1/2 duplex. Strata property is a way of dividing up one large building (for example, a condominium complex) into individual titles (the units inside the building) so that they can be owned independently of one another. A strata unit typically consists of everything inside the exterior walls and dividing walls of a particular unit in a building. Also, each strata unit owner is allocated a proportional share (depending on unit size) of the common property of the development. Typically, this includes the exterior walls, roof, driveways, parking areas, amenities like swimming pools, etc. Everyone shares in the maintenance and repairs of these assets, coming out of funds raised by paying monthly strata fees.

Every strata council is different. Some are very strict, some are very relaxed. Some are proactive, and ensure maintenance is done and necessary monies are spent to keep the building sparkling like new. Others are not, and allow the building to fall into disrepair, necessitating large special levies to repair things when they finally become unserviceable.

I was showing a condo to a buyer not long ago. I had heard good things about the building, that the owners and council were very proactive and up-to-date on repairs and maintenance. It showed when we pulled up to the building. The landscaping was neatly groomed, the front door was clean and free of fingerprints and grime, the lobby was spotless and I noticed that the 80’s-era building had had a recent makeover with new light fixtures, carpets, and paint.

Then we entered the elevator. On the wall was a large notice (I paraphrase):

NOTICE:

We all know that there have been several undesirable individuals who have been hanging around our building. It has been made aware to Council that several of these people are HIV positive, and thus hepatitis must also be a concern. DO NOT APPROACH THESE INDIVIDUALS! Call 911 if you are approached!

Naturally, my buyer was turned off instantly and I was quite embarrassed. If you lived in the building, would you want the first impression of your home to be a place that “undesirables” frequent when your friends and family arrive? What if you were the seller of this particular unit? Or his or her agent? Would you want this to be the first impression a potential buyer has?

While it was good of the council to inform the residents of the building about these problematic people, a public notice is not the place for it! A letter under the door of each unit would get the message across more discretely and would guarantee that every resident received the warning.

Often these issues can be brought to the attention of the overzealous council without drama or incident. Remember, the council members are owners too, and likely want to preserve their best interests as well.

Live in a strata? What’s your council like? Comment below!

Tim Ayres


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Radius Victoria – A True Urban Village

Radius Victoria Presentation Centre Opens 

Urban Village offers many amenities for condo owners, business in downtown Victoria, BC.

Radius

Over the past 5-8 years, many new construction projects have been built in the Victoria area. Still more are now under construction or have been planned. One project that has captured my interest more than others is the Radius project in Downtown (OK, well slightly uptown) Victoria.

Planned as an Urban Village, its Developer touts the project as a true mixed-used development, with commercial and office space, recreation facilities, and of course, new condominiums. The idea is that it creates a whole neighbourhood – everything a person could need – within the city block upon which it’s built. You can live, work, and play all within walking distance.

Obviously, a selling feature of this project is the green-ness of it, reducing carbon emissions and so on. When you think about it, this is more than marketing hype or exploiting the current “green wave” in construction and, well, basically every other consumer product out there. An urban village is a great idea. It will create a sustainable, complete community. Imagine being able to walk out of the residential tower, grab a coffee at the shop in “Caledonia Mews,” a 15,000 sqft retail shopping plaza planned for the development, and then off to work in the office tower in the same block. Add to that the environmentally-friendly building materials and systems, and you’ve got something pretty special.

The trend these days in mixed use and residential developments is amenities – all those nice extras like gyms, spas, and recreation rooms for residents to use. I must admit, some of the ideas are a bit out-there! The commercials and ads in the paper talk of a rooftop labyrinth, an orchard, and rooftop gardens. The gardens are a neat idea -one of the things city-dwellers miss out on is the ability to grow your own vegetables and herbs. But the labyrinth?

The University of Canada West will have a campus in the development, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in arts, science, business, and manangement.

And finally, the 14-storey office tower, with 185,000 square feet of class A office space is a much-needed addition to the Victoria business community. Many firms would love to expand or relocate to the area, bringing with them the kind of jobs that are going to attract (and keep) people in the community. The problem is there is nowhere to put them. Office vacancies are virtually zero in this city, and developers are only now starting to catch up. It’s no surprise that the office space is 45% leased already. A major tenant is the BC Land Title and Survey Authority which has agreed to lease a 40,000 sqft space to replace its cramped and not-as-accessible digs on Burdett.

I hope this project is a smashing success, and that more developers will build similar projects all over our region. The condos are priced from $250,000 – not a luxury price tag like so many other projects in the city. This is a shining example of the future of developments, and we are lucky to have the future started right here in Victoria.

Tim Ayres – Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty