It is extremely rare to see an underground parking lot that doesn’t have some form of cracking or water ingress into it.
If you think about it, it is a large concrete structure carrying a heavy load on top. Things are bound to crack a little bit. And since its underground, water will eventually seep into those cracks.
People ask me a lot, is it bad if water gets into the parking area? Well moisture won’t really damage concrete. It may damage the rebar in between the concrete, but the concrete itself is fine. So the real consequence is water dripping onto things you don’t want it to drip on, so cars and people.
The most extreme cases usually involve a strata installing water diversion methods to keep water away from things.
On the exterior of underground parking areas, there is a waterproofing to reduce the amount of moisture being held against the exterior concrete surface. People’s concern usually is replacing this membrane is typically quite costly.
When looking at a complex, I typically look at the exterior surface and grading of the surrounding above ground area. If you have a complex that has a lot of large planters, brick work, or other type surfaces that hold moisture, you are more prone to underground parking membrane deterioration. If you have very well drained area, so sidewalks, roads, etc, you are less likely to have membrane deterioration.
The key is to look at the surrounding area, that always helps
Items that are ‘Good to Know’
Here are some point form things that are good to know when looking at a condo or strata.
- If the heating method is hot water baseboard, many strata buildings turn off their main boiler during the hot months. This means that its very difficult to test the heat functionality during those times, because they won’t work
- Self managed stratas have a reputation for not being as well run as a strata that has a management company. Typically it involves many of the owners participating in the maintenance of the area. Read the strata minutes carefully to see whats been done and hasn’t been done
- Most stratas will clean dryer ducts to reduce any fire hazards, but look through the minutes to make sure. Some don’t. Typically its once a year.
- If there is a wood burning fireplace, find out if strata is responsible to clean them.
- Fire sprinklers came into effect in 1994, and are supposed to be tested annually by the fire department
- When looking through strata minutes, there typically is always a leak somewhere. When many people live within a close vicinity there is a higher chance that someone didn’t use their dishwasher or clothes washer properly. That isn’t necessarily a flaw of the building, just owner error.
- Decks typically need some form of work every 10-15 years. This depends heavily on facing, and exposure to the elements. It doesn’t mean all decks in the entire complex, just some.