Canadian Underwriter

The latest flood peril: Do-it-yourself condo repair

February 26, 2018   by Canadian Underwriter

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Insurance professionals selling condo insurance might want to advise their self-styled handyman clients to consult an expert before taking on seemingly minor home alterations.

A British Columbia strata lot owner is on the hook for more than $8,000 after accidentally drilling a hole into a pipe when trying to mount a television.

In June 2016, Ronald Lake drilled a hole into a wall to install a mounting bracket, the Civil Resolution Tribunal noted in a ruling released Feb. 20, 2018. The drill hit a pipe, causing flooding.

Lake wanted the strata corporation to reimburse him $5,000 while the strata corporation wanted Lake to pay $8,281.87 for emergency restoration services and pipe repair. They took their dispute to the CRT, which ruled against Lake.

Lake had argued the accident was “caused by incorrectly installed plumbing approved by the strata, and it was reasonable to expect to be able to mount a television on a bedroom wall,” CRT member Kate Campbell wrote in the ruling.

The strata corporation had argued that unit owners are “responsible for ensuring there are no service lines in a wall before any drilling.”

The strata corporation did not convince the CRT that Lake violated a bylaw requiring approval before fastening to a wall “any television or radio antenna or similar structure or appurtenance.” Campbell’s rationale was that a television wall mount bracket is not an antenna, but rather is “similar to wall-mounted shelving or furniture,” which do not require approval for installation under the strata corporation’s bylaws.

But those bylaws also stipulate that the strata corporation is not responsible for damage “caused by an overflow or leakage of water from any adjoining strata lots or buildings or by the breaking or bursting of any pipes or plumbing fixtures, or in any other manner whatsoever, unless such damage shall result from the negligent act or omission on the part of the strata corporation, its servants or agents.” The CRT ruled that in this case, the strata corporation was not negligent.

Lake had stated he “deliberately drilled into the drywall and not the stud, in order to install a toggle bolt,” based on advice from installers at Home Depot and Best Buy.

Evidence submitted by Lake “[does] not prove that the water pipe in question was installed contrary to the codes applicable in the applicant’s jurisdiction,” Campbell wrote.

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2 Comments » for The latest flood peril: Do-it-yourself condo repair
  1. Thom. Young says:

    Perhaps it’s petty, and maybe it’s just me, but I expect more from the industry press.

    Drilling through a water supply pipe results in a loss from the peril of water escape, not flood, the water damage that occurs when this happens is called, water damage, not flood damage. The Peril flood is a consequence of overland water entering the premises.

    It’s hard enough to explain the nuances of our terminology to our customers without a news article referencing the cause of loss incorrectly. Forgive me, but we don’t need to add to the confusion our clients endure already from the uniformed press by misquoting the cause of loss in news articles.

    Maybe I just need coffee?

    Have a nice day!

  2. Maureen Sikorski says:

    This is the second article in today’s version of Canadian Underwriter Daily that references water escape as flood. As set out in the prior comment about this article, there is a difference between water escape and flood and Canadian Underwriter journalist’s should understand that.

    Thanks for the opportunity to point that out.

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