External Building Systems

April 2023

The main obligations of a condo board are maintaining the structural health of the property and financial health of the corporation.  Both are related and often in conflict since maintaining structural health requires money.

Directors should have a general understanding of external building systems so they can think critically about their building, evaluate advice from consultants and make good decisions.

The exterior of a building is comprised of the roof, walls, balconies, terraces, retaining walls, fences, windows, doors, sidewalks, driveways, garage and parking lot.  Each system is affected by design, physical composition, age and location.

Roof and walls of a building, its façade, provide structural integrity.  They create a waterproof envelope that determines energy efficiency and protects against the elements.  The façade includes windows, gutters and other features working together to facilitate energy efficiency and protection against water infiltration.

Paved areas including walkways and sidewalks, along with landscaped and grass areas, should angle away from building structures to prevent water damage that can compromise structural integrity.  Walking areas should be well maintained to help prevent tripping hazards which can cause injury and be a liability issue for the corporation.  Repairing cracks and potholes on surfaces is necessary to ensure proper drainage and prevent water from going to where it can cause damage.

Any area connecting a building to the outside should receive regular attention to maintain structural integrity.  This includes doors, windows and balconies.  Doors and balcony railings must remain safe with proper waterproofing and routing of water runoff to prevent leaks and structural deterioration.  Windows and doors should be maintained to prevent drafts and water infiltration.  These measures help reduce rust, corrosion, mould and structural damage.

There is a delicate balance between a corporation’s financial health and physical health of the property.  Boards focused on cost control while ignoring deterioration, delaying repairs and maintenance can anticipate sudden and unexpected “emergency” expenses for which they are unprepared.  The consequence is some combination of special assessment or loan to pay for these “emergency” expenses.

Boards should be as vigilant about the physical condition of their community as they are about its financial health.  Yet construction, maintenance and upkeep are complicated to understand.  Experts are needed to advise on what must be done to maintain building infrastructure.