Major milestones in B.C.’s leaky condo crisis

1995: The Building Envelope Research Consortium is established through an initiative of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to act as a co-ordinating agency for the research of building envelope problems in B.C.

1996: CMHC releases its Survey of Building Envelope Failures in the Coastal Climate of British Columbia.

1998: Former B.C. Premier Dave Barrett establishes a commission of inquiry into the quality of condominium construction in B.C. Its 82 recommendations include changes to zoning regulations, building codes, provincial and federal law, financing, contractor licensing, and requirements of design professionals; and establishment of a compensation fund for reconstruction and a provincial Homeowner Protection Office.

1999: A second Barrett Commission is established following the collapse of the New Home Warranty of British Columbia Inc. Findings recommend 100-per-cent compensation up to $25,000 per unit for repairs, with costs shared equally between the provincial and federal governments and the B.C. condominium construction industry.

2000: The B.C. Assessment Authority announces it will cost $220 million to repair the 14,521 leaky condo units identified in that year’s property assessments.

2000: Housing Minister Jan Pullinger announces new regulations will require contractors to be licensed by the Homeowner Protection Office and to provide third-party warranty insurance to obtain permits for building-envelope repairs.

2001: The B.C. government estimates 65,000 condominium units have suffered water damage that will cost $1.5 billion to repair. Some advocacy groups predict the damage estimates will grow to 90,000 units and $2 billion.

2001: The board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District calls on the two senior levels of government to activate disaster-relief legislation and provide financial assistance to leaky condo owners.

2003: A judge rules that condo owners must hold a meeting and pass a special resolution with three-quarters approval of condo owners before a class-action lawsuit can be started.

2005: Six years after the New Home Warranty came into effect, 100,000 new residences have been brought to market with the warranty insurance attached.

2008: A report by the Homeowner Protection Office states at least 72,000 strata units leaked and suffered water damage, and possibly as many as 87,500 units.

2009: B.C. government scraps the 10-year-old program, which provided interest-free loans of almost $670 million to the owners of 16,000 condos, primarily on the South Coast.

2010: A precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court of Canada means owners of leaky condos can pursue the general contractor’s insurance policy to try to recoup some of the cost of damages caused by defective construction by subcontractors.

Compiled by Vancouver Sun librarian Kate Bird

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