Market Wharf | 110.33m | 33s | Context Development | a—A

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This is still noted as "Unresolved" Another example of a building that seems to be aging FAR faster than it should be!

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taal

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I'm curious, when does the city inspect buildings ? i.e. under what situations ? I ask because while there has been a lot of talk about the lack of reserve fund studies in Florida they do have enforced city led inspections of buildings over 40 years, as far as I'm aware no such thing exists here ?
 

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I'm curious, when does the city inspect buildings ? i.e. under what situations ? I ask because while there has been a lot of talk about the lack of reserve fund studies in Florida they do have enforced city led inspections of buildings over 40 years, as far as I'm aware no such thing exists here ?
The requirement here in condos is for Reserve Fund Studies every 3 years (Florida had FAR laxer standards) - I do not think anyone checks these are done properly but any Owner can demand to see their buildings most recent one and can go to the Condo Authority if they see the Act is not being followed. Apart from the regular fire inspections, I think the City does not pro-actively inspect buildings; this inspection of Market Wharf was because some balcony railings 'collapsed'.
 

taal

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The requirement here in condos is for Reserve Fund Studies every 3 years (Florida had FAR laxer standards) - I do not think anyone checks these are done properly but any Owner can demand to see their buildings most recent one and can go to the Condo Authority if they see the Act is not being followed. Apart from the regular fire inspections, I think the City does not pro-actively inspect buildings; this inspection of Market Wharf was because some balcony railings 'collapsed'.

Honestly I'd argue in an ideal world both would exists. I've conducted many reserve fund studies as a board member (in multiple buildings) and I'll tell you the accuracy can be questionable at best if the board doesn't have a expertise in the area and isn't intimately familiar with their building (even class 2 studies that are done "on site" every 6 years).
 

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Honestly I'd argue in an ideal world both would exists. I've conducted many reserve fund studies as a board member (in multiple buildings) and I'll tell you the accuracy can be questionable at best if the board doesn't have a expertise in the area and isn't intimately familiar with their building (even class 2 studies that are done "on site" every 6 years).
True but our situation is far better than in many places, e.g. Florida, where there is nothing.
 

interchange42

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The requirement here in condos is for Reserve Fund Studies every 3 years (Florida had FAR laxer standards) - I do not think anyone checks these are done properly but any Owner can demand to see their buildings most recent one and can go to the Condo Authority if they see the Act is not being followed. Apart from the regular fire inspections, I think the City does not pro-actively inspect buildings; this inspection of Market Wharf was because some balcony railings 'collapsed'.
It's the insurance companies that police this: if you don't have a proper study, your rates go up up up! Theoretically this means that everyone should be keeping up-to-date with thorough studies, because which owners want to see steeper than needed hikes in their monthly maintenance just to pay for insurance?

A recent study showed that Theatre Park was experiencing concrete flaking where the balcony railings are screwed into the slab, so that's getting fixed now. No fallen glass as a result that I'm aware of. I believe the issue comes from cheaping out on the bolts as they were rusting. I expect we will see similar issues with many buildings here, most of them caught before they get serious, by the reserve fund studies.

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It's the insurance companies that police this: if you don't have a proper study, your rates go up up up! Theoretically this means that everyone should be keeping up-to-date with thorough studies, because which owners want to see steeper than needed hikes in their monthly maintenance just to pay for insurance?

A recent study showed that Theatre Park was experiencing concrete flaking where the balcony railings are screwed into the slab, so that's getting fixed now. No fallen glass as a result that I'm aware of. I believe the issue comes from cheaping out on the bolts as they were rusting. I expect we will see similar issues with many buildings here, most of them caught before they get serious, by the reserve fund studies.

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Though some condominium corporation insurance companies may ask about Reserve Fund Studies, ours has never asked us on their annual renewal questionnaire and I have been completing these for a decade or more. The person who DOES ask is the AUDITOR and they always have a separate Section in their report to Owners on "Adequacy of Reserve Fund for major repairs and replacements" Of course, the Auditor cannot know if the Study is accurate!
 
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taal

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Though some condominium corporation insurance companies may ask about Reserve Fund Studies, ours has never asked us on their annual renewal questionnaire and I have been completing these for a decade or more. The person who DOES ask is the AUDITOR and they always have a separate Section in their report to Owners on "Adequacy of Reserve Fund for major repairs and replacements" Of course, the Auditor cannot know if the Study is accurate!

I would second this, I've done many insurance renewals and it's never come up, at least not directly, but as you said the auditor will call it out. If a board chooses to not follow the funding plan outlined by the reserve fund study it shows up on the status certificate.

Here's the issue most don't seem to understand. A class 2 reserve fund study (i.e. the more involved "on site" variant done every 6 years) is still fairly superficial in nature. All one needs to do is compare the cost of said reserve fund study to a comphrensive engineering study on a single element (e.g. a parking garage assessment report or an exterior cladding report), which will easily cost 4-5x more. By far and large the reserve fund schedule is planned simply based on life expectancy of the various building components (and there are industry standards for these and they're not updated frequently). My point being it takes a proactive board and residents to catch issues and dig in (i.e. do a comphrensive engineering investigation, not a reserve fund study).

To go further, for anyone who's done a lot their share of reserve fund studies, the quality and consistency varies drastically from company to company. I've seen reserve fund studies miss entire building components. I's typically subtle in nature i.e. they didn't realize the building had some number of terraces, or miss fan coil risers (typically a common element unlike the fan coil) and the list goes on. Another variant of this problem is they somehow hugely under value the cost of a large project (e.g. parking garage renovation) or the industry standard timelines don't seem to hold up anymore.

One last point, the unfortunate part is often these discrepancies surface when it's too late i.e. at the 20+ year mark (or maybe even quicker for newer construction), when something goes wrong (e.g. needing to replace all the exterior sealant due to many leaks), and only then it becomes clear the reserve fund wasn't sufficient in some way and the board is left in a difficult situation.
 

interchange42

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Please send me the name of your insurers @DSC and @taal so that my building can slide and get away with long-term structural death by neglect too then, because our insurers makes sure they're sound!

Maybe it's because I live in an equity co-op, and not a condo, that our insurers have been strict; there are not that many equity co-ops in the city, and most insurers aren't even interested in us as it would mean having to learn how to deal with us. We fall under the Corporations Act, not the Condo Act, that they are used to dealing with for owner-occupied residential buildings, but if we want to be insured, they require us, as much as possible, to follow the Condo Act, and that includes the Reserve Fund Study rules. If we can't produce thorough class 1 and class 2 studies every alternate three years, our rates go up. (I had assumed that would be the case for actual condos too, so it's rather surprising to me that this seems to be the realm of the auditor for condos, not the insurers.)

That said, as a board, we have always pushed for explanations about every costing in the studies, as we don't always believe the results. That's because way back when, we had boards that were determined to bring the annual maintenance cost increase in under the inflation rate (sound familiar Señor Tory?), so the reserve fund got short-changed and we fell way behind being able to handle major renos. When we were forced by insurers to start acting like a Condo, had items failed at the rate that the studies said they would, we would have gone bankrupt. They didn't fail so quickly though, (for example, we put off repairing our balconies for about 6 years after the study said they would need it, as we could see that they were not failing the way the study said they would. The cost turned out to be two-thirds of what the study had estimated too, so we had longer to save and less to pay. That lesson made us question every line item, and now years after we thought we might have to sell the building for redevelopment, we're in quite a healthy position. Why am I going on about this? Reserve Fund studies are good despite being imprecise.

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Please send me the name of your insurers @DSC and @taal so that my building can slide and get away with long-term structural death by neglect too then, because our insurers makes sure they're sound!

Maybe it's because I live in an equity co-op, and not a condo, that our insurers have been strict; there are not that many equity co-ops in the city, and most insurers aren't even interested in us as it would mean having to learn how to deal with us. We fall under the Corporations Act, not the Condo Act, that they are used to dealing with for owner-occupied residential buildings, but if we want to be insured, they require us, as much as possible, to follow the Condo Act, and that includes the Reserve Fund Study rules. If we can't produce thorough class 1 and class 2 studies every alternate three years, our rates go up. (I had assumed that would be the case for actual condos too, so it's rather surprising to me that this seems to be the realm of the auditor for condos, not the insurers.)

That said, as a board, we have always pushed for explanations about every costing in the studies, as we don't always believe the results. That's because way back when, we had boards that were determined to bring the annual maintenance cost increase in under the inflation rate (sound familiar Señor Tory?), so the reserve fund got short-changed and we fell way behind being able to handle major renos. When we were forced by insurers to start acting like a Condo, had items failed at the rate that the studies said they would, we would have gone bankrupt. They didn't fail so quickly though, (for example, we put off repairing our balconies for about 6 years after the study said they would need it, as we could see that they were not failing the way the study said they would. The cost turned out to be two-thirds of what the study had estimated too, so we had longer to save and less to pay. That lesson made us question every line item, and now years after we thought we might have to sell the building for redevelopment, we're in quite a healthy position. Why am I going on about this? Reserve Fund studies are good despite being imprecise.

42
Interesting, I was certainly not suggesting that Reserve Fund Studies are unimportant and completely agree that they need to be VERY carefully looked at and investigated by the Board and Property Manager while they are being carried out to ensure that they are based on 'local conditions' and not only on standard 'life expectancy'. I have been involved in at least 4 RF Studies and in every case we have had discussions with the engineers, not to try to get the costs or risks reduced but to ensure they take account of maintenance reports and real life experience. Some of our efforts led to higher costs, some lower and we have generally been very satisfied with the results. An RF Study should not be a 'surprise' or an effort to make everything look perfect - they can never predict every expense or cost increase but are VERY useful indicators, IF DONE PROPERLY! (I would say that if there are problems it is that many are not done well and the engineers or whoever doing them are trying to 'make the Board happy' by proposing low increases in contributions. In many ways the RF team are like the Auditors and a case could probably be made that in both cases it should be hard for a Board to fire them. (It is already hard for a Board to fire the Auditors, who are actually appointed by the Owners.)
 
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