Supertel Towers: New heights in repair bills

The scale of tall buildings threatens to undermine everything the construction industry thinks it knows about a reasonable budget for repair.Concord adex

Life-size combined buildings come with a set of well-known maintenance and maintenance challenges with age, but a relatively new form of super-towers poses entirely new classes of risk precisely because not much is actually known about them.

There are only a few so-called superlative apartment buildings in Canada today but there are at least 10 others in various planning and construction stages in Toronto alone, including the 95-storey Concorde Sky project on Yonge and Gerrard Streets and star architect Frank Gehry’s complex The proposed FORMA consists of two towers, 84 and 73 floors, in the Old Theater District of King Street.

Sally Thompson, director of Synergy Partners, says engineers like her have learned a lot about tall buildings in the 30 years she’s spent advising condominium managers on standby fund studies aimed at predicting potential damage in these owner-occupied buildings. structures. But the scale of the giant bridges threatens to undermine everything the industry thinks it knows about a reasonable budget for reform.

For example, a recently constructed Supertalle apartment in Toronto has been consulting on its budget line item of about $15,000 every 20 years for potential repairs to the crane assembly that was installed on the roof of the 65-story tower to allow workers to clean. windows.

“I always laugh at that particular lever: so this lever has hydraulic cylinders that allow it to extend against the wall so that the stage can go lower,” said Mrs. Thompson. Innovative design, but the crane has a weight limit on what it can lift, less than the weight of even one of its own cylinders. “When you need to replace a cylinder to repair the crane, the crane cannot pull it. So we will need to build a tower crane on the roof in order to pull the drum up to repair the standing crane. It would cost $250,000 to build this, and each of these cylinders would cost $60,000 to replace.” Not only that, but the permanent crane also cannot lift one of the glass curtain wall panels of the building in case it needs to be replaced. So, again, temporary jacks will be required. “The costs of repair are just huge and our industry is not used to budgeting for it.”

There is no definitive definition of what makes a high-rise “high-rise” although there are now elements of the Ontario Building Code that define a superstructure as “a building 65 stories or more in height or more than 250 meters in height”.

As the economics of planning permission and land prices in cities like Toronto continue to favor tall buildings in relatively limited areas, the number of mega buildings is increasing. But its shape necessitates compromises about lifestyle that may also limit its appeal.

Long live Riley Cook, Sales Representative for Re/Max Hallmark Ltd. , in a massive two-year building, is one of the Ice Condos apartments on York Street in downtown Toronto. Tempted by the wonderful views in the sales brochures, however, he could not move into his unit at first because a defect in the building prevented the window on his Juliet’s balcony from closing properly, and the 44-story high winds sounded a continuous whistle in the apartment.

There is no specific definition of what makes a high-rise, but the Ontario Building Code defines a high-rise as a building “65 stories or more in height or more than 250 meters in height”.Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

He said to himself, “It’s not going to go well.” Indeed, one of the drawbacks of Super Life has been the building’s constant battle to keep the six elevators in good shape. “There were people coming down from the 67th floor and by the time the elevator got to 44, it was full,” he said. The same thing will happen on the way back: “I see lines in front of the building.”

Mr. Cook, who has lived in half a dozen apartment buildings in Toronto over the years, also noted that the large building did not seem to budget for its size.

“I now live in a 12-story building, and we have the same property management team as a 60-story building? It’s a huge issue. We’re asking them to manage ten times more property.” When you have 140 floors collectively [in two towers] In an effort to use the same amenities, you go to the gym at 5pm and you just line up to get into the shower room. This is something that made me realize that living in such a high place was not suitable for me.”

Budgeting for maintenance and repairs in condominiums of all sizes is a constant push and pull between keeping costs low today without letting owners grab the bag of underfunded repairs. Ms Thompson urged the Ontario government to put in place stricter rules to direct primarily volunteer councils made up of apartment owners to prevent them from underestimating their needs, a problem exacerbated by the unprecedented size of the new class of superstructures.

In February, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) released a paper titled “Infrastructure Longevity – Managing Reserves and Risks in Condominium Maintenance in Canada” that looked at the potential repair needs and financial preparedness of condominiums across the country. The case studies focused on standard high-rise buildings (<50 stories) and apartment complexes, but nonetheless found a widespread underfunding compared to their potential needs. The CIA estimated that there was a 10 percent chance that a three-year-old apartment building would need special appraisal - with each owner in the complex paying a proportionate share of the building's maintenance overhead - which rose to 47 percent in 20 years and 54 in cent within 30 years. But one of its main recommendations focused on the fact that with a different legal system in every province and territory and virtually no effective oversight, it is impossible to predict the true physical and financial health of the multi-billion dollar stock of apartment buildings.

The report warns that “there is an urgent need to collect more data about this industry and to have a higher degree of transparency.”

Nathan Normwell, vice president of global operations for Access Restoration Services, says the version of the lift that the super residents is dealing with will only exacerbate the costs of doing any of his company’s serious renovations or repairs in the wake of floods or fires. “Everything is taking longer, from evaluation to scheduling to execution, because of the time needed to reach much higher ground than usual,” he said. “If lifts are not working or operation is reduced in any way, there is a significant additional cost to labor in waiting times or carrying materials up and down stairs.”

There are a few examples in the country that offer hints about the costs of superlative building renovations, but perhaps the most notable example comes from commercial real estate where Brookfield Properties is leading a massive recladding of the first Canadian super-place (72 stories, built in 1975) and completed in 2012. Marble replacement The exterior with a white and bronze glass curtain wall, along with some belated electrical, mechanical and interior decor upgrades, ended up costing more than $100 million.

It is safe to say that no state dwelling board has ever attempted to undertake any project of this magnitude, which is part of the reason why Mrs. However, she is not saying that it is all bleak, it is only wise to be careful about the unknown risks of a huge investment.

We can treat it as an industry, but it exacerbates all the existing problems,” Ms Thompson said.

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