Aside from the mustaches the hottest topic in Toronto this November relates to a CBC article discussing the longevity and efficiency of glass walled condos.  Given the city’s enormous building growth (see this great info graphic) this issue resonates strongly with those who live and work in these glass towers.

Replacing glass every 25 years or so certainly isn’t a new concept – but buildings have only recently been constructed with exteriors primarily consisting of glass.  The biggest concern for owners of these properties is whether or not the maintenance fees adequately represent the depreciation of the glass.  Given the reaction by stakeholders to this article we’re thinking that perhaps they do not.  When future expenditures are generally known they can be properly accounted for in the monthly maintenance fees, if not the gap in funding can result in large increases in these costs and thus maintenance fees or a special assessment (lump sum) in order to fund expenses.

One question we have been asked recently is whether we would sell a glass condo given this recent information.  The answer is of course – these buildings offer spectacular views!

As a brokerage which prides itself on transparency and ensuring its clients are well informed we would want to fully explore the buildings’ funding position and check if engineers have properly accounted for the replacement of glass walls in the Reserve Fund Study (an engineering report that is revised every three years and outlines the lifespan and replacement cost of building elements).  The key is ensuring a buyer understands the ongoing costs associated with his or her investment. Timing can be extremely important with condo purchases and some buildings may be a great short term investment but not offer the same returns over a lifetime.

Ontario’s building code will change this January (2012), requiring all high-rise buildings to be 25 per cent more energy efficient than the Model National Energy Code, a voluntary standard for buildings that will become the mandatory minimum in Ontario.   It will be interesting to see how construction changes to reflect increasing efficiency standards.