Condo-shopping? Be wary of window repair costs

Watch the above video: There are warning from some engineers that condos with window walls will not last – the replacement costs could price owners out of home.  Laura Zilke reports.

TORONTO – Floor to ceiling windows offer the million-dollar view that help sell condos across the GTA, but replacing those windows could come with a price tag of $100,000, according to a university professor.

John Straube, a professor of civil engineering and architecture at the University of Waterloo, says the windows on current buildings will have an approximate life span of 30 years.

“Given the current level of technology, thirty years is not unreasonable. If everything is built right and there are no surprises,” said Straube. “The entire wall is made of glass, so it’s going to very costly for materials and cost a lot more money to work on and access.”

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The silicone adhesive and rubber gaskets used to install window walls eventually degrade as temperature changes and sun exposure can lead to the aluminium frame to bend causing the windows to fail.

Straube said the window replacement costs can become even more expensive if you’re forced to move temporarily while an exterior window wall is replaced.

The sunlight, that can degrade window walls, is also one for the reasons they have become so popular in the design of condo buildings, says a Toronto architect

“People buying condos want the views and they want the daylight,” said Craig Race, a project manager with the architecture firm Sustainable T.O. “When you use glass properly it can be advantageous to a building’s performance. Using passive heat from the sun in the winter is something we like to do here at Sustainable T.O. and it can benefit a building.”

Race says builders choose glass because it’s cheap and quicker to build with one type of construction material.

READ MORE: Condominium permit values drop in Ontario, B.C.

With more than 20,000 new condo units opening this yea in the GTA alone,  prospective buyers are being warned about future repair costs.

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“In some buildings [reserve costs] aren’t large enough, and it may not cover additional expenditures,” said Linda Pinizzotto, of the Condo Owners Association of Ontario.

Pinizzotto warns that condo owners could be stuck with expensive repair and maintenance fees beyond earlier predictions when the condo was purchased.

“If things haven’t been attended to properly over the year, then definitely you will have a problem.”

*With files from Global’s Laura Zilke

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