Condo and townhouse buyers need expert help!

Strata management and maintenance in BC is about to improve

In the meantime, buyer due diligence will be more challenging

By December 13, 2013 every strata condominium and townhouse complex of 5 units or more must either obtain a Depreciation Report or pass a ¾ vote to defer obtaining the report.

Depreciation reports are used to establish long term planning for common property and common assets to determine:

1) What assets a complex owns ( an inventory )
2) The asset condition ( evaluation )
3) When things need to be replaced ( the anticipated maintenance, repair and replacement )
4) How much money a complex currently has (contingency reserve report )
5) What it is likely to cost for future replacement (a description of the factors and assumptions in projecting costs)
6) How a complex is going to pay for the costs ( the cash flow models projecting 30 year replacement periods )

Depreciation Reports will not only make it easier for stratas to maintain their properties and investment values but will also make it easier for buyers to ascertain how well maintained and funded stratas are and how likely future Special Levies/Assessments or strata fee increases will be.

In many complexes, monthly strata fees will increase.

Stratas will need professional input to carefully plan how to fund their Depreciation Report findings without damaging values by imposing exorbitant monthly fees or large future Special Levies

While we help house buyers and sellers too, a large part of our real estate practice is helping buyers investigate and purchase good condominium and townhouse properties.

If you are thinking about a strata purchase this year, call to arrange a confidential, no-obligation meeting with Rick Couvelier.

For those wishing to sell a strata property, we are considered experts at that also.

Rick Couvelier

Pemberton Holmes Ltd.
#150-805 Cloverdale Ave
Victoria, B.C.
V8X 2S9

The Carpenter Ants have returned!

Now that the hot weather has arrived, Victoria’s carpenter ants are active again.

Inspect and protect!

They are large ants, 6-12 mm long (3/8-1/2 inch); the flying queen ants may be nearly 2 cm long (7/8 inch). For brief periods in the spring and early summer the winged ants swarm into the air on mating flights. The queens are easy to see as they settle, shed their wings and search for decaying wood to begin their nest. Very few of them will find an ideal site, which is usually outdoors. Their presence does not mean that your house is infested. Carpenter ants are actually beneficial predators that feed on small insects, honeydew and dead and decaying material.

Carpenter ants make two types of nests. If the queen finds moist, decaying wood, she tunnels into it to begin the main nest. This site must be permanently moist or the eggs and younger larvae cannot survive. Old nests can contain thousands of ants, but it takes several years for a new nest to build up to a few hundred individuals. Main nests are usually outdoors in rotting stumps, trees or in decaying landscape timbers. They can become established in houses where wood in the structure has begun to decay. Although carpenter ants do not eat wood, they do tunnel into it to make their galleries. Once they establish a nest in damp wood they will eventually damage the structure by tunnelling from the decaying wood into the sound wood. Carpenter ants also make satellite nests where they care for the older larvae and pupae that tolerate drier conditions. These nests are often in wall voids and eaves, ceilings or under insulation in attics or crawl spaces. Most nests in houses are satellite nests that maintain communication with the main nest.


The best protection is to maintain dry conditions with proper construction and maintenance, remember that anywhere wood is in contact with soil there is a risk of carpenter ant infestation.

  • Repair wood damaged by moisture, ventilate damp areas, clean gutters to avoid clogging, which leads to water damage to siding or roof.
  • Store firewood on raised platforms, well away from the house.
  • Prune trees so branches don’t touch the house.
  • Remove all nearby rotted stumps or logs. Check for rotting landscaping wood.
  • Ensure that wood of the siding or structure isn’t in contact with soil at any point around the house foundation.


The key to control is finding the main nest, where the queen is laying eggs. This requires thorough inspections and an effort to follow foraging ants back to their nest. If you see ants inside your house in an evening, it is worth hiring  professional to investigate for a nest inside your  house. While you can inspect and treat on your own, some chemicals can be harmful and my experience is that if the queen sees the effects of your treatment, she may relocate her nest. You see dead ants and think you killed them all….without realizing the rest have relocated

Carpenter ants use the same trails over and over and are most active at night.

Professionals will look for signs of nesting activity, such as mounds of loose shavings or sawdust beneath a crack in a wall or eave space. Sometimes you can hear rustling sounds in the walls (use an inverted glass or rolled up paper tube to amplify the noise).

Choose a service that will conduct a thorough inspection for the main nests and that is willing to discuss with you, in detail, the various treatments. To prevent the problem from recurring after treatment, replace or repair any damaged timbers and correct moisture problems.

If your treatment professionals offer a warranty it may make sense to have them back again for an inspection before the warranty expires

(Source for most of this article: