What is a Leaky Condo and How to Avoid Them!

Leaky Condos Are Everywhere in Vancouver.

Keep this in mind if you’re buying a condo in Vancouver. A condo that initially looks solid as a rock, may be a festering rotten mess inside the walls or in other places you can’t see.

4 ways to avoid buying a Leaky Condo

1) Use a qualified, experienced Realtor who specialises in the area you are buying in.

Using a qualified Realtor specialising in the area you’re buying who will know which buildings are or have been Leaky Condos. To make sure they know their stuff, Use this simple test.

Ask them which buildings (ask them about specific addresses or building names to be sure) in the area you’re interested in are leakers and which ones have or had problems. If they have lots of info on this topic and can name specific addresses and names of buildings that are problematic you’ll know they know their stuff. If they’re vague or don’t know anything, keep looking for a Realtor. Also Don’t hire your father-in-law’s uncle who’s a Realtor in the ‘Burbs and needs directions to get to showings.

Go with a Realtor who knows the product (like me!). It’ll save you time and money.

2) Read the Strata Documents and any and all Engineering Reports

Reading 2 years of Strata Council Minutes and most importantly any and all Engineering Reports and/or Envelope Assessments is the simplest way to know if you’re buying a leaky condo. Look for references to leaks, water ingress, repairs for water ingress, references to Engineering Reports or Envelope Assessments, or anything else that relates to repairing water damage.

3) Make your offer Subject to Inspection by a Qualified and Certified Home Inspector.

Having your Realtor make your offer Subject to Inspection and then hiring a Qualified and Certified Home Inspector is the CHEAPEST INSURANCE AGAINST BUYING A LEAKY CONDO. If ANYONE (your Realtor, the Sellers Realtor) says you don’t need a home inspection, a red flag should go up in your mind immediately. Have a look at my video on why you should always hire a home inspector

Have your Home Inspector read over the Strata Minutes and any Engineering Reports before the inspection and have the Inspector compare the documents to what they see. That’s a good way to ensure what’s in the documentation is accurate.

4) Ask Questions!

If you have questions or don’t understand the Strata Documents ask your Realtor and if you have questions or don’t understand the Engineering Report ask your Home Inspector. Never be afraid of asking questions and be wary of those who who refuse to answer your questions.

Check out this article from the CMHC about leaky condos

Questions on financing a Leaky Condo? Check out my video on How to Get a Mortgage on a Leaky Condo!

Want to AVOID BUYING A LEAKY CONDO? Check out my First Time Home Buyers Guide! Its a series of videos that explain the home buying process in Vancouver in detail, with great tips on how to avoid buying a leaky condo.

I’d love to hear your questions or thoughts in the form of a comment below!


  Comments: 13

  1. Mike said: “Have your Home Inspector read over the Strata Minutes and any Engineering Reports”

    From experience home inspectors don’t have the time to go through the documents as part of the $400 2-3 hr inspection. Maybe pay them extra?

  2. Hi Luc,

    Good to hear from you!

    A good Home Inspector if notified, will make time to thoroughly read any Engineering Reports available. If they say they don’t have time to read an Engineering Report, fire them on the spot.

    If available, an Engineers Report will tell you if the building you’re interested in is a leaky condo or not.

    Engineering Reports (sometimes Envelope Analysis) are critical documents about whats happening and what may happen with the building envelope. It also will lay out what the Engineer has recommended for building maintenance.

    A good Home Inspector will compare observations of the building to what they see in the Report to ensure the Strata is actually doing the maintenance recommended in the Report.

    Strata Minutes – A good Home Inspector will read the Strata Minutes and should be available to answer a Buyer’s questions about the minutes with regards to the building.

    Some inspectors may charge an extra fee, but talk to the Home Inspector you’re comfortable with and find out.

    What are your thoughts on the still shooting? Is it as evocative as the walk and talk that you didn’t like?

    Thanks again!

  3. The quality of the shooting has improved drastically!

  4. Thanks Luc!

    I’m trying to do stationary shots with the non-stabilised HD cam.

    More to come!

  5. Hi Mike,

    Great info BTW. I’m currently on the sellers side right now. My building is in the very begining stages of a Engineering report. The company has sent out unit surveys/questions first (asking about potential water damage), then they plan to inspect the building. How will this effect my potential selling situation? should I not even bother to sell right now until the report is complete? Overall the building has been managed well and there seems to be a decent emeregency fund. Any advice is appreciated.


  6. Hi Derek,

    Good to hear from you and thank you for commenting!

    In my experience, the uncertainty surrounding the beginning stages of an engineering report create the biggest challenges for selling a property with an engineering report.

    Markets hate uncertainty.

    When the engineers are preparing their report there is no certainty as to the result.

    Will a minor repair be called for or will the entire building need to be rainscreened at huge cost to the owners?

    This uncertainty will cause a lot of buyers (particularly inexperienced or first time home buyers) to assume the worst and pass your listing by. Experienced buyers (or their lenders) will want to see the engineering report before they move or lend on a suite in the building. If there is a report pending they will wait until its published.

    To avoid uncertainty, waiting until the engineering report is published (AND when the Strata Council agrees with its findings and recommendations) might be the best time to sell your place so that there is certainty for buyers about the future of the building.

    Once the engineering report is published, hire a good Realtor who specialises in the the area and knows the building to sell your place. This Realtor needs to be able to clearly communicate what the situation is in the building to prospective buyers, so they aren’t turned off initially by mention of an engineering report.

    Remember, engineering reports are not necessarily bad things!

    They are a sign of a pro-active Strata Council that is willing to assess their buildings physical structure and more importantly (if they take action) make sure the building is in good repair.

    Also, the results of an engineering report may come back saying the building is great and only needs minor repairs. This result could be a powerful marketing tool for you to get top dollar for your listing.

    One more thing, if your engineering report comes back saying a large assessment for rainscreening is required, you know that once the work has been done, your building will be repaired to a higher standard than it was originally built. This could also be a powerful (though potentially expensive) marketing tool for your listing once the work is completed.

  7. Shedrack Idemudia

    Nice video, i had to do a school assignment on this topic, great overview with the video. Now i have a better understanding “Leaky Condo” Thanks Mike!!

  8. Thanks for the kind words and I am glad to hear I can help with your school assignment!

    Please let me know if I can do anything to help you in future!

  9. Thank you for your very informative Leaky Condo video.
    I have one question. Is it only the wood frame condos that were “leaky condo” designed and built in the 80s and 90s, or does that also apply to the concrete structures?

    • Hi David,

      Good to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

      It doesn’t really matter if the building has a concrete structure or a wood frame structure.

      When it comes to leaky condos, its all about the envelope.

      The envelope system referred to as a “Face Sealed Envelope” is what usually causes the issues, rather than the material used in the structure.

      What are your thoughts?

  10. Can you recommend a good, knowledgable realtor for the Surrey (Whalley) area?


    • Hi Vic,

      Good to hear from you.

      We can definitely help you with this.

      Give me a call at 604-763-3136 and we can help you with this.


  11. Noel H. J. Allan-Hughes

    I see this article dates to 2009, however it is still very relevant. Perhaps now more that ever. Resharing on LinkedIn. My building’s (Lincoln Place: Strata Plan LMS-2866) particulars, issues and concerns are detailed on a dedicated Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lms2866lincolnplace/).

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