Housing Cooperatives

When we initially get involved with a housing cooperative, they are often aware of particular building envelope problems in their complex but they may not know how to address it. In some cases, budget constraints dictate additional funding or loans are required. Typically, a full building envelope condition assessment is completed so that the full extent of the required repairs is known. This is followed with some form of prioritizing in cases where funding may not be available for all repairs.

Owner Involvement

Touwslager Engineering Ltd. has worked extensively with BC Housing who is involved with many cooperatives, sometimes on behalf of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). We are aware of their requirements and Touwslager Engineering Ltd. is pre-approved by BC Housing as one of their Building Envelope Consultants.

Housing cooperatives generally have maintenance or building envelope committees to address their needs. These groups are responsible for retaining professional advice. It is our role to remove the burden from the committee by providing the required knowledge for you to make educated decisions. We also provide technical advice throughout the project.

Touwslager Engineering realizes that while we may explain everything to the committee, it may not be as easy for them to explain the same thing to the general membership. For that reason, we are available at any time in the process for information meetings and these are recommended. For example, we are often involved in a general membership meeting before the members vote for particular options.

Condition Assessment

We have already discussed the general steps for a typical project. The first step for many cooperatives is the aforementioned building envelope condition assessment. Once this is received and reviewed, a meeting between the committee and Touwslager Engineering is recommended. This will allow us to answer questions and discuss the next steps, if any are required. In some cases, the cooperative will have a project manager or administrator, such as BC Housing, involved and they often attend these meetings as well.

If repairs are required, budgets must be prepared and the cooperative will need to get funding. We do not typically get directly involved in the funding aspect, but we can provide the required documentation and information for CMHC or any other parties.

Design

The design phase is the period where we work closest with the cooperative’s building envelope (or maintenance) committee. Typically, over 50 decisions need to be made. We will present the issues and options, first at a meeting and then later in a report. The issues and options are well-documented so that the cooperative can later vote on the critical items at a membership meeting. It is our experience that the building envelope committee selects the preferred option for the membership for most topics and then votes on any critical items. The items requiring a vote typically include cladding type and colour. Note that the cooperative determines which items require a vote, but we can provide input and comments on what happens at other buildings.

Once funding is secured, we will prepare drawings and specifications, and complete construction services as required to match the scale of the project. The construction documents can be hundreds of pages, consisting of general conditions, scope of work, technical specifications for each building element and each material, plans and elevations, windows schedules, assembly drawings, and detailed drawings.

Construction

During construction, Touwslager Engineering will handle a majority of the workload, with the committee only being required to attend meetings, review and sign contract documents (which will be fully explained), correspond with and otherwise coordinate the membership, and generally perform non-technical tasks. The committee is not required to perform any contractor-related services, such as inspections or negotiating with the contractor. The committee may be required to provide access to the units, contact the general ownership for access, and perform housekeeping tasks, although responsibility for these can all be discussed in advance.

Maintenance manuals and capital cost renewal studies usually follow construction.

We hope you consider Touwslager Engineering as your building envelope professional. Contact us today if you’d like to discuss your building’s issues.

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Touwslager Engineering Ltd.
Suite 204 - 3882 Napier Street
Burnaby, B.C.
Canada V5C 3E8

Telelphone (604) 299-1906
info@touwslagerengineering.com