Facade maintenance requirements
The maintenance of facades is an essential component of property management, guaranteeing not only the safety but also the durability of the structures. The Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) has developed a set of guidelines to ensure that buildings across the province meet strict standards. This in-depth guide aims to provide owners, managers and building professionals with a detailed understanding of these requirements and their importance.
1. The Crucial Importance of Facade Maintenance
Safety: Deteriorating or poorly maintained facades can lead to severe accidents, such as falling materials, endangering pedestrians, vehicles, and even building occupants.
Durability and Structural Integrity: A well-maintained facade ensures that the building itself remains robust and protected from the elements, thus reducing the risks of water infiltration or structural damages.
Aesthetics and Property Value: Buildings with clean and well-maintained facades are not only more appealing but can also have a higher market value, attracting potential tenants or buyers.
2. Classification of Affected Buildings
The RBQ emphasizes tall buildings, especially those five stories or higher. However, it's essential to note that height isn't the only criterion; the building's function, its location, and its use can also influence maintenance requirements.
Historical or heritage buildings, even if they might be shorter, require special attention due to their cultural and historical value.
3. Maintenance Guidelines
Inspections: Inspections should be conducted by qualified experts, who have an in-depth knowledge of construction materials, inspection techniques, and local regulations.
Repairs: Identifying problems isn't enough; it's crucial to act promptly to carry out the necessary repairs. This might include replacing materials, consolidating structures, or implementing temporary protective measures.
Documentation: Keeping written records of inspections and repairs is vital for accountability and future planning.
4. Inspection Frequency
According to the RBQ, buildings should be inspected at specific intervals:
- Buildings of 5 to 10 stories: Inspection every 10 years.
- Buildings of 11 stories or more: Inspection every 5 years.
It's also recommended to conduct inspections after major events, such as storms or earthquakes, which might have compromised the building's structure.
5. The Responsibility of Professionals
- Building professionals aren't just inspectors; they are the guardians of the safety and durability of structures. Their role is to offer advice, oversee repairs, and ensure transparent communication with owners and managers.
6. Consequences of Non-compliance
- Beyond fines, negligence in facade maintenance can lead to legal consequences, especially if negligence results in accidents or damages.
7. Maintaining a Record
Throughout the life of a building, it's imperative to maintain a detailed record on-site. This record should encompass:
- The contact details of the owner.
- If available, copies of the facade construction plans, photographs, and any other document related to modifications made.
- A history of the repair, modification, or maintenance work carried out on the facades, including repeated interventions to address a recurring issue.
- The official facade verification reports.
8. Verification by an Expert
Every building owner is responsible for seeking out an architect or engineer to provide a verification report. This report must certify that the building's facades pose no danger. The inspection of each facade should be carried out at least six months before the report is submitted. The report should contain:
- Details of the professional who conducted the inspection.
- A comprehensive description of the mandate, the methods employed, and the scope of the verification.
- The exact address of the building and the inspection dates.
- A location and description of observed defects, their potential causes, and any attachment issues on facade elements.
- Recommendations for necessary corrective work, with a suggested timeline for their implementation.
- A summary of the report, confirming the safe state of the facades and, if necessary, recommendations made to the owner to rectify observed defects.
- Appendices containing photographs, drawings, and any other relevant information.
It's worth noting that if no dangerous conditions are detected, the report doesn't need to be submitted to the RBQ. However, it should be kept in the building's record.
9. Declaration of Dangerous Conditions
If no dangerous conditions are identified, there's no need to submit a report to the RBQ. However, if dangerous conditions are detected by the professional, they must immediately inform both the owner and the RBQ and provide their recommendations. The owner is then obligated to:
- Implement emergency measures to ensure public safety.
- Promptly inform the RBQ by filling out the appropriate form.
- Provide, within a 30-day window, a description of the necessary corrective work, drafted by an engineer or architect, and submit a timeline for approval.
- Ensure that the work is carried out in accordance with the provided description and timeline.
- Obtain a final report confirming the safety of the facades upon completion of the work.
- Send the RBQ a letter signed by the engineer or architect attesting that all corrective work has been carried out and that the facades are now safe.
10. Frequency of Verification Reports
The initial verification report should be obtained no later than the 10th anniversary of the building's construction. Subsequently, a report should be produced every five years.
11. Signs of Deterioration
It's vital for owners to recognize early signs of facade deterioration. These signs can indicate the need for a more in-depth inspection. Among these indicators are:
- Visible cracks.
- Rust marks.
- Visible signs of deterioration on balconies.
- Displaced bricks or stone or concrete blocks.
- Damaged joints on the exterior cladding.
- Any equipment affixed to a facade must be securely attached to ensure safety.
Facade maintenance is a complex task that requires constant attention, specialist knowledge and proactive action. By following RBQ guidelines and understanding the importance of this maintenance, owners can ensure the safety, beauty and longevity of their buildings for future generations.