December 4, 2013

Vandals cause nearly $250,000 in water damage

A construction worker tosses water damaged drywall from one of the nearly completed suites in the Hudson Mews development in Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island.

Whoever got into an almost-finished, 12-storey building in Victoria, then fully opened a water line on the top floor, must have been familiar with the building's layout, said the site supervisor.

“It’s starting to seem like an inside job,” said Cameron Scott-Polson of Campbell Construction, the general contractor for Hudson Mews, a 120-unit apartment and ground-floor commercial development.

When Scott-Polson got to work at 6 a.m. on Nov. 25, he encountered water on the fourth floor and as he climbed to each floor, it got wetter and wetter.

Whoever entered the downtown building, at what’s estimated to be between 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, made a beeline for level 12 and fully opened a 3/4-inch butterfly valve, water line in an apartment bathroom, Scott-Polson said.

“It was going full-blast,” he added.

Initial reports pegged the damage at about $40,000, but Scott-Polson said damage may reach $250,000.

Water reached the ground floor, but the most extensive damage was from level six and up.

One slight advantage, is that the upper floors were not as complete as the lower floors, said Nathan Garrioch, with Townline, the company jointly developing Hudson Mews with the Peterson Group.

It could have been a lot worse if the incident happened closer to the April 2014 opening date, he said.

Still, the outlet was spewing water for at least 11 hours.

“Water came through the walls and out the bottom of the wall on every floor,” Scott-Polson said.

The water seeped around steel studs and into the insulation of the concrete tower, which effectively soaked up the water.

Later that day, crews working flat-out, had vacuumed most of the water on all floors. The next step was removing drywall and insulation, which continued into the week.

“Water got inside the walls. We had to act quickly. We didn’t want mould,” Scott-Polson said.

Even with this significant setback, Scott-Polson, who’d already been working 12-hour days, expects to honour the April 2014 completion date.

Once the insurance adjusters determine the cost of damages, work will go full-tilt to repair and finish the apartments.

Additional workers will be hired to stay on schedule, Scott-Polson said.

The Victoria Police Department had its Forensic Identification Services team on-site, but there are no suspects, said Victoria Police spokesperson Cst. Mike Russell.

Scott-Polson said it was kind of odd that the watermain was likely turned on while the Grey Cup football game was in progress.

Another oddity is that a perimeter fence was knocked down on the Sunday afternoon when a female driver backed her car into the fence.

She took off, according to a witness in a nearby coffee shop.

It appears the perpetrator or perpetrators got into the building by scrambling over the flattened fence, Scott-Polson said.

Despite being surrounded by buildings, some with video surveillance, none of the cameras were directed at Hudson Mews.

The building itself is not equipped with security cameras, Scott-Polson said.

Russell couldn’t recall a recent incident of this type, where someone cranked open a water main inside a building.

“We don’t see this type of crime happening that often,” he said.

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