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Hiring a building envelope professional
A number of strata councils are seriously considering a building envelope review, even though they have had no previous problems with building structure. Is the cost of a review a waste of money or an inexpensive insurance plan for the future?

What is a building envelope?
The building envelope includes all building components that separate the indoor from the outdoor building structure such as exterior walls, foundations, windows, doors and the roof. An effective building envelope should keep out extreme temperatures, moisture, dust and wind. Additionally, it should not permit weather elements to be trapped inside the walls that can cause wall components to deteriorate.

In order to maintain its effectiveness, the building envelope requires regular inspection and maintenance. Since it is considered common property, all strata owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing the building envelope. With the leaky condo issue affecting a number of strata corporations, many owners are implementing building envelope reviews as a precautionary measure to ensure sound structure, and also to identify problems early, and prevent significant or enormous costs. An envelope review report that reveals a sound structure can be used as a selling point and give an owner a leg up on other corporations that have not conducted a review.

Selecting a Building Envelope Professional
Although the building envelope professional has specialized training in building science, it is important to thoroughly investigate his or her past experience. Carefully interview all candidates and make sure that each person you interview is an accredited building envelope professional who carries liability insurance coverage.

To begin your search, obtain a list of building envelope professionals from the City of Vancouver or your local municipality. Interviewing can be time consuming for both parties, but experience from other strata corporations suggests choosing three or four candidates to interview. The purpose of having an interview is to have a face to face meeting and determine if the strata and the professional can work together.

During your first meeting, find out how many projects the company has worked on and ask for referrals from past clients — preferably with a building similar to your own. Contact the company’s referrals and find out if they were they satisfied with the review. If there were problems, find out how they were resolved. If other professionals such as architects or engineers are required for the job, determine how they will be selected and brought to the strata council for recommendation.

A program is underway to accredit architects and engineers as building envelope professionals. The Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) at (604) 683-8588 or the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) at (604) 430-8035 will have a list of building envelope professionals. Until the professional associations establish their list, contact the City of Vancouver at (604) 871-6051 for an interim list of professionals that meet the city’s qualifications. Contact you local REALTOR® for more details on conducting a building envelope review.