Building Codes, Common Practices, and the Decline of Quality Housing in the BC Market

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On February 12, 2014, Posted by , In Uncategorized, With No Comments

Remember the leaky condo crisis of the 80’s and 90’s? How could you not! If you were an owner, the special levies and mass depletion of contingency funds left you broke, stressed and further indebted to the banks. If you were a builder, the loss of trust from the market forced many of you underground, or even bankrupt.

National media had a frenzy reporting increasing billions of dollars in damage like the rising number of deaths upon the arrival of a plague.

The gutter industry had a role to play, therefore, must bare some responsibility as well. We were asked to put gutters on houses which had not been waterproofed. Gutters ending at walls were built into the OSB, without as much as tarpaper behind it. Spaces were not required for the rain screen, flashings and exterior materials. Small 2” plastic outlets were relied upon to drain 1000sq feet of roof surface.

When the codes were changed, they spiraled down a series of improvements that demonstrated the potential for the return of quality housing. However, they had fallen short of a complete overhaul, failing to establish a market place where buyers have a level of assuredness of a singular standard of quality. Allow me to go a little deeper.

Yes, today we have rain screen requirements and codes. We have flashings, counter flashings, application procedures, building codes, trained inspectors and envelope engineers. But where are any improvements to codes, application procedures and verification/inspection in relationship to the rainware and water shedding systems of the residential housing? They haven’t come yet, and they appear to not be on any legislative agenda in the near future.

As a company that uses a quality standard as its compass, we know that:

–       There should be a minimum of one down pipe per 300-500sq feet of roof surface;

–       Fastened 2 ¾” flush-mount aluminum outlets are minimum requirement for drains;

–       2”X3” or equivalent is the minimum size for all downspouts;

–       Extruded hangers 18” on centre, for fastening gutter;

–       Down pipes draining onto lower roofs should be extended across, and plumbed directly into lower gutters;

–       The list goes on.

Unfortunately, most companies do not supply and install sufficient products to guarantee the proper functioning of the gutter system.

There are no codes for the inspectors to verify, pass, or fail. Builders and homeowners are not informed about problematic products and techniques which may take years to manifest and become obvious.

It is a frequent occurrence for us to have a homeowner shocked at the extent of the failures, and subsequent damage of the recently installed system. However, it is not surprising to us at all.

We have lost many ‘bids’ for jobs over a couple of hundred dollars, and possibly, thousands of ‘bids’ for even less.

Proper building codes not only level the playing field, but more importantly, raise the quality of housing in the BC market. And, it helps qualify the value in all related capital investments.

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