Leaky building owners may not have the will or financial means to consider a remediation project, especially where no legal remedy to recover repair costs is possible (for example, the building is outside the 10-year eligibility requirement for WHRS claims).
To avoid risk of future liability, designers, if approached, should not become involved in projects where the owner decides to do nothing. Designers should also approach temporary mitigation of water entry with caution – they will need to clearly outline to the owner that temporary mitigation is not a remediation solution and that the building will still need to be repaired.
If an owner intends to do nothing and keep the building occupied, the following issues should be raised and discussed in detail:
- The risk that the building may be declared unsafe and unsanitary by the local territorial authority if the damage becomes serious enough to compromise the building’s structural integrity if it has not already.
- The risk that occupants will face continued or increased exposure to the potential health effects from a damp mouldy environment.
- As time goes by, the cost of repairs increase and the extent of damage will worsen, including potential damage to other property.
- No initial costs to the owner.
- The building may be able to be sold ‘as is’ – while the owner may have to accept a lower sale price, this may be a more affordable option than undertaking repairs.
- Damage will continue to occur.
- The property will continue to lose value.
- Repairs, when undertaken, will be more expensive or the building may have to be demolished.
- The potential for the owner to recover repair costs may be affected – the building may end up falling outside limitation periods if a valid legal claim opportunity exists.
Updated: 9 September 2014