By Mathieu Verronneau, ing. & Paul Hanratty, MBA

Condominium Parking Garage Maintenance

Introduction

Your parking garage, if not maintained properly, can be one of the most expensive costs to your Condominium Corporation. Repairs to your garage can cost millions of dollars and create massive disruption over multiple years to the quiet enjoyment of your home and investment.

Background

The National Building Code Standard for Parking Structure construction and protection is CSA S413, “The Canadian Parking Standard”. This building code document provides guidance for designers and builders of parking structures. The current issue of this standard is a highly informative document but falls short in several areas related to protection of structural elements within parking structures. Deterioration of structural elements like columns, slabs, ledge beams etc., accelerates quickly if these elements are not protected. De-icing salts greatly accelerate the deterioration of unprotected structures.

One can find all details on this standard at:https://www.csagroup.org/store/product/S413-14/

Historic Building Process

Condominium structures are built by property developers and in most urban settings the parking garage is generally underground. Developers have a two-year obligation to the Condominium Corporation covering non-structural and non-life safety components of the building. This includes waterproofing structural elements in the parking garage and elsewhere. The short warranty period incentivizes some developers to install the minimum protection required by the building code. The current code only requires that elevated slabs be protected by an elastomeric membrane and traffic bearing surface. It does not require that the Architect or Designer of structural protection systems design for durability. This lack of guidance in the building code will be changed significantly with the new iteration of CSA S413:21, due to be released later in 2021. The new code will require that deck membrane systems be designed to receive four distinct levels of wear exposure i.e., parking stalls, drive aisles, turns and ramps, and entrance / exit plaza. This will be of great benefit to new condominium construction but does little for existing buildings.

Your Building

Your Condominium parking structure was built under the guidance of the old building code and depending on its age, quality of the developer, usage and protection systems employed, can have a significant impact on your common area maintenance costs and the life cycle costs of maintaining your garage.

Early signs of deterioration in parking garages include worn or unbonded deck membranes, leaking cracks and expansion joints, watermarks on the underside of the slab at joints, ledge beams, cracks, wall joints etc.

Structural deterioration will not fix itself. It will continue to propagate and the longer it is left unchecked the more expensive and disruptive it will become to repair. No matter what condition your garage is in, the best time to begin a serious repair and maintenance program is now.

The Covidien era was particularly harmful for certain commercial parking lots put on hold, because with the traffic reduced to “zero” some owners who no longer had rental income decided, or were forced to, not to maintain their building and/or parking. This phenomenon is hot right now to the point where several technical articles from engineering firms and specialists discuss the costs associated with postponing parking maintenance. Simply do a search with the keywords: “Deferring Maintenance Parking”. Here is an example of an article that talks about this deferral of maintenance for a condominium building:

https://www.kellerengineering.com/article/the-pitfalls-of-deferring-maintenance-and-repairs-in-condominiums

Outlined next are 3 steps every condominium owner should take to minimize the life cycle cost of maintaining their parking garage facility.

What To Do?

The generally accepted life expectancy of parking garage deck membranes is 12 to 15 years. The 3 steps outlined below you will help extend the life of your parking deck membrane by up to 10 – 15 years more.

3 Steps Condominium Corporations Should Follow
to Extend the Life of Their Asset.

  1. Hire a reputable parking garage consultant to conduct a technical audit of your parking structures, outline deficiencies and provide a budget to remedy the issues identified. Update your reserve fund to reflect the reality of current and future repair and maintenance costs. Create a budget to complete work that is immediately needed. If all work cannot be completed in a single year develop a multiyear plan that fits your budget to get it done.
  2. Have your consultant develop a specification to complete the work and issue a tender for the work. Ensure that contractors who are invited to bid the work are reputable and have a successful history of completing work of a similar scope and scale to that needed. Ensure the deck membrane supplier has a long, successful history or installation in our climate, and local technical representation. Aim for a “single-source manufacturer warranty”, by choosing a manufacturer who has several construction materials suitable for the protection of garages / parking lots in his offer, such as: concrete repair mortars, joints sealants, waterproofing membranes for parking decks and balconies, resin coatings (for mechanical rooms, stairs, locker rooms, etc.), water-repellents, expansion and fire-stop joints, wall coatings (some also have the ability to be highly reflective to enhance safety and increase lighting without adding fixtures!)
  3. Develop a maintenance plan that includes a spring wash down of the entire garage, unplug drains, clean debris from expansion joints, check for wear in deck membrane and search for leaky caulked joints. Conduct yearly localized repairs to deck membrane, newly developed cracks, caulked joints and drains as needed.

To conclude, in parking garage management, prevention is always better than the cure and it is important to involve competent and experienced professionals in this type of project.


About the Authors

Mathieu Verronneau, ing. & Paul Hanratty, MBA

Cell: 514-386-4163, mathieu.verronneau@mbcc-group.com

Mathieu is a Technical Specialist responsible for Master Builders Solutions and Watson Bowman Acme parking market in Quebec. Paul carries the same responsibilities in Ontario and is also a voting member of CSA S416 Technical Committee who are currently updating “The Canadian Parking Standard” for the National Building code of Canada (NBC).  They are both active members of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) and have participated in over 4,000,000 square meters of parking membrane and balcony installations in Quebec and Ontario over the past 20 years.

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