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Commercial buildings falling into disrepair, following months of lockdowns: expert

Last Updated Jan 26, 2021 at 7:45 pm PST

FILE - An aerial shot of Downtown Vancouver. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 Photo)

One of the unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic is many commercial buildings are falling into disrepair

Many buildings have been under-used, due to months of pandemic restrictions and work-from-home protocols

Problems can include everything from leaks and drains clogged from lack of use to more serious structural issues

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Experts are warning there might be hidden cost to buildings which have been under-used because of pandemic restrictions and work-from-home protocols.

Jim Mandeville is with FirstOnSite Restoration and says when these buildings come out of “hibernation,” they have to be approached like new structures by going through a break-in period.

“Our modern structures — especially large ones — are designed to be lived in. And when they’re not being lived in … or are not being used, or used to their full potential, they can get a little bit achy and they could start to have some problems.”

Some of the problems that can occur can range from fairly minor, like clogged drains, to very serious, like building envelope issues, Mandeville says.

“People aren’t sitting there all the time like they normally are. And things that are normally innocuous and very small that are normally caught very fast, can really be magnified over time because those buildings are vacant and are not being used.”

So, Mandeville suggests more attentive inspections are required while buildings go through their hibernating season.

“A lot of times when we’re checking on these buildings as operators it’s a fairly cursory check, fairly quick for each floor. We need to pay a lot closer attention to things like plumbing systems, the exterior envelope, the roof. We can also get into some issues in the parkades and around the sidewalks and the perimeter of the building.”

And with temperatures continuing to drop, the winter weather can additionally impact the structures.