Preparing for the future occupies my mind. It should also fill your mind.
My vision of the future is dark, the blackest ink color. If it were otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing a column about getting ready – I’d be buying an Art Nouveau glass canopy to sit over my front door.
But now I think there is no need to take shelter from the heavy rain that is falling on all of us. And the glass shatters when tree branches fall on it. I’m thinking a jerry-rigged canvas arrangement, or maybe a parasol.
Modern homeowners don’t want to dip into the fund of the heat pump, or the fund of the charging station of a future electric car, or the special kitchen utensils they will need when they replace their stove with gas by an induction model. The future is ahead, and it is looking for personal weak points.
Owners should be careful. Apparently, Ontario’s condo reserve funds, which a smart council sets aside for repairs and unforeseen costs within 30 years, are laughable. A recent Globe article explained both the deterioration of buildings and human nature, claiming that maintenance and repair costs are minimal for the first 20 years and then skyrocket.
Buildings are like humans: they age very slowly, then suddenly.
Homeowners who have grown accustomed to minimal repair bills will scream when the board suddenly needs millions to fix elevators, replace pumps so water can reach upper floors, replace those huge glass windows from a long time – or even, take a break, repair the concrete.
It was the deterioration of the concrete that flattened the Surfside, Florida condo tower like a pancake after residents, many of whom died horribly that night, burst into flames when asked to shell out d large sums postponed to consolidate the building.
Can I say that my long-term belief that renting is the best option seems to be beaming right now. Renting gives you an escape. Rats have them. In these dark times, rats are your model animal.
Toronto community housing tenants at Swansea Mews are unwilling to leave their apartments, even though one tenant was seriously injured after a concrete ceiling collapsed. They live well with metal poles supporting the ceilings all over dodgy apartments.
Understandable, but I’m not sure. The Toronto Community Housing Corporation should have repaired the faulty concrete decades ago. Postponing repairs is not good. Concrete hitting the human skull, not good either.
In “Dark Age Ahead,” Jane Jacobs wrote about decline: people choose to buy rather than budget; universities offering degrees rather than a solid education; make speculative economics a science rather than the real science; and choose cheap, fast-paced urban sprawl and glass condo towers above land, water, and air.
We weren’t preparing for the future.
At an open house recently, I saw some strange things. Why was there a shower in the living room? Why no heat pump? Why install bay windows that can’t open for a breeze or accommodate an air conditioner? Why climb an almost vertical staircase and bend over backwards to enter an attic bedroom? The price was $1.8 million.
The house was in the process of being flipped, which meant that the realtor/owner had done a quick and cheap renovation without thinking about the difficult life that was going to be lived within these walls. Pinball was selling just as the market crashed; no one wants a rushed home now.
It will sell under demand unless a (hopefully very short) buyer plans to rent the ground floor and sleep in the attic, while cooking and eating in the basement apartment with its exterior door. The house would be very suitable for an embittered couple who are divorcing.
I hope municipal and federal governments plan a reset – I can’t imagine Premier Doug Ford understands the future pain that underlies this – that helps prepare us for dark times. Tell us what we should buy now and save for later.
Is there a discount for reflective white roof paint? What trees should I plant? Why are weather reports so bad? I have to lie down now. Dark room, dark age.