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Vancouver Real Estate: Owners Must Pay for Condo Damage

 

A civil court found that a pair of core holes damage or break cables essential to the structural integrity of a building.

Two West Vancouver condominium owners have been ordered to repair structural damage they caused to their community during unauthorized renovations.

In March 2020, the West Royal Towers Strat Council granted Philip and Raven Garrow’s request for permission to redevelop their townhouse at ground level, according to a ruling released by the Civil Court last week. But the following month, the strata withdrew their permit and alerted West Vancouver County after they learned contractors were punching holes in the concrete floor, something expressly prohibited by the agreement.

“The concrete floor structure is subject to post-tensioning, and any damage to the cables embedded in the concrete floors could result in catastrophic damage to the structural integrity of the building,” the agreement states.

An inspection by an engineer hired by Strata confirmed that two post-tension cables were damaged and one was completely torn apart by a core, the ruling said.

West Vancouver County also banned work on the site.

Garrow filed their layers with the Civil Tribunal, seeking to overturn the order to cease layers and seeking $180,000 in damages for negligence and breach of change agreement.

The Garrows acknowledged that their work included punching holes in the slab, which led to the cutting of post-tension cables, the ruling said, but they argued that plans approved by the layers indicated holes would be required to move plumbing fixtures.

Associate Chief Justice Kate Campbell dismissed Garrow’s claims, arguing that the terms of the agreement superseded anything that could be in the architectural drawings.

“I believe the Strats were justified in stopping work because the rework agreement expressly forbade drilling holes in the floor,” she wrote, adding later: “I also note that the Garrow initialed every page of the agreement and cannot reasonably challenge them.” knew about all his terms.

The Straths counter-sued, seeking an order requiring Garrow to repair the support cables and suspend any other work until that was done. The Garrows argued that they were not required to do the work, given their engineer’s opinion that “the slab could carry the design load without any of the three wires being damaged.”

Campbell disagreed, preferring the testimony of the reservoir engineer, who indicated that if future work resulted in similar damage elsewhere in the complex, it could create more pressing safety concerns.

“It would be unreasonable to conclude that the Garrows have the right to leave damaged cables unrepaired when this could lead to problems in the future,” she wrote. “Given that the structural cables were quickly and easily damaged by Garrow’s repair work, it would be unreasonable to conclude that damage from others is unlikely in the future.”

The rework agreement signed by Garrow explicitly makes them responsible for repairs, Campbell noted, and gives them 120 days to submit a report from an engineer confirming that repairs have been completed.

However, the tribunal denied the strata’s request for an order ordering Garrow to pay punitive damages.

Campbell noted in the ruling that the stratum estimated repair costs would be around $250,000, although the exact cost is unknown.

Garrow has a separate legal dispute with the county seeking the repeal of a municipal cease-and-desist order on the site. It remains before the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

This isn’t the only developer run-in with West Vancouver. In 2017, the county filed a petition in the Supreme Court of British Columbia seeking a demolition order for the 20th Street home they claimed Garrow built almost entirely without permits. The building had numerous structural, electrical, and plumbing defects, about which the district filed affidavits in court. Before the case could go to court, one of Garrow’s creditors foreclosed the property and sold it to a new owner, who demolished the house in October 2022.

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