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What Condo Associations Have Told Us About Water Leaks Prevention Since 2014

Starting a business is never a linear journey. With Ubios, it’s been a gradual journey, not a radical change or pivot. Indeed, Ubios retained its original idea—a smart thermostat—and just made it better, to give it a bigger purpose. Instead of making it a simple gadget, we gave it a central role in our solution to prevent water leaks and damage. Real estate market observers, whether they are in Montreal, Canada or abroad will tell you this: water leaks and the damage they cause are the biggest challenges faced by co-owners today. Ubios had found how to fulfill it’s peace of mind purpose: solve this ongoing crisis!

A Discussion With all Market Stakeholders

But our team wanted to do things well. Water damage does not occur in the same way in a single-family home, a triplex or a condo building. The solutions cannot take the same form either. As they begin to emerge, none of them seem to meet the real needs of condominium associations and managers.

This is why the Ubios team worked since 2014 with condo associations, condo managers, co-owners and their insurance companies to clearly assess their biggest challenges. It was the only way to respond adequately to those issues. Since our first installation in Mont Tremblant, we can see that this approach was the right one.

Relieve Condominium Associations and Restore Insurers’ & Co-Owners’ Confidence

In addition to being the victims of water damage, the leaders of the condominium industry have a responsibility to regulate, or at least mitigate, the extent of water-related claims. Even when a manager is hired to do most of the legwork, the final responsibility still rests with the condo board. To relieve the boards of administrators, they have to take the means to reassure all parties involved. Here are the pressures experienced by condo board at present:

  • Insurers’ pressure:

    In addition to the financial impact (increases in home insurance premiums and deductibles for condos), insurers are increasingly asking for preventive actions to be taken by condo managers. And requests of such nature won’t go away anytime soon!  

  • Co-owners’ pressure:

    Whether directly affected by claims or not, co-owners are rightly concerned about direct and indirect impacts. A decrease in the value of their property, loss of enjoyment due to temporary relocalisation, and other impacts are usually at the center of most discussions during general assemblies! And of course, nobody wants to hear about special assessment fees!

  • Pressure from condo managers:

    Managers mandated by condominium associations already spend a whole lot of time dealing with issues caused by water damage in co-ownerships buildings. While they wish to prevent water leakage, this should not mean new tasks (battery replacement, false alarms, user training, service calls, etc.) for them to perform on a regular basis.

  • The pressure of past liabilities:

    In several condominiums, self-management frequently means a certain degree of turnover on the board of directors of the co-ownership union. This often results in lax in record keeping, delays in taking decisions, and few initiatives of a preventative nature.  

The current members of boards of directors must, therefore, assume a great deal of responsibility. Our mission was to develop a solution that would allow them to really solve the problem without becoming too expensive or adding new areas of pressure.

A Solution Built for the Reality of Condos/Multi-Dwellings

Throughout our discussions, development, and implementation, we have acquired a great deal of information. Whether it is from co-owners, condominium administrators or damage insurers, their needs all intersect. Here’s what we’ve identified as the most critical needs for every stakeholder:  

  • A system that is always effective:

    a system that remains functional even during power outages.

  • A reliable system:

    which generates a minimum number of false alerts to ensure the quality and relevance of interventions in the co-ownership building.

  • A “transparent” system:

    the system must allow the usual use of water without manual action even during a power failure.

  • A comprehensive system:

    given that plumbing and frozen pipes are the primary sources of leaks and water damage in condominiums, a system based solely on the detection of leaks from household appliances (water heaters, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc.) would only do a tiny part of the job as those represent less than 10% of all water damage and leaks in co-ownerships. The chosen solution must be able to prevent and detect all potential risks: broken pipes, improper connections, infiltration, freezing temperatures, etc. The more you can prevent the better!

  • Provide an overview of the building:

    Administrators and managers wished to have a global view and real-time status of the system and alarms when needed. A defective equipment must be able to be identified quickly to avoid compromising the integrity of the prevention system.

  • Avoid special assessment condo fees:

    to facilitate the integration and social acceptability of the implementation of preventive solutions, directors wish to avoid the use of special contributions. Such would be the case, for instance, if a condo association decided on the purchase of equipment payable in one installment, the size of which would necessitate expenditures not usually provided for in the co-ownership fund or operating budget.

  • Alerts that reach the right person:

    In a tower of several tens or hundreds of units, local alarms could remain unanswered for weeks. Remote alerts are critical for rapid response. Additionally, they must be simple to manage, without asking for a new device/app.

  • Address modular needs:

    each condominium must deal with a reality of its own. Some buildings need to intervene to prevent freezing of pipes, control heating, security, while others need to ensure HVAC systems work to prevent fungus from forming, etc. Any proposed platform must provide this flexibility.  

  • A sustainable technology:

    the purchase of major new equipment for a condominium must not only be amortized by a return on investment but over an extended life, taking into account the cost of maintaining the new system, valves, detectors, hardware and specialized labor. The optimized lifetime of this type of equipment, so as to minimize interventions on building critical systems, was identified as between 10 and 15 years. And should not require any additional investment by the co-ownership union in order to be profitable.

It is with all this information that we finalized the development of our technology and our business model. To fulfill the need for condo protection in a way never seen before, we had to create something new. And we think we succeeded, right where our expertise and the needs of our customers – condo associations –  intersect!

Want to know more about our solution to prevent leaks and water damage in condo buildings? Get a custom quote designed for your needs and enjoy peace of mind right now!

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