Are you ready to throw up your morning bagel?
If you are, then watch this video, where I show you the downside of terrace living.
I’ll give you a hint, folks: it involves some elderly lunatic on the 21st floor of my building feeding pigeons like it’s going out of style.
As embarrassed as I am to show you the mess on my terrace, I figure it’s a good discussion point…
Well, I may have said, “…one a month,” in my video, but to be quite honest, I’m out there weekly in the summer.
The warm weather this month represents a double-edged sword: I can use the exterior hose, since it’s still warm enough to avoid any freezing pipes, but the warm weather also means some birds have forgotten to fly south for the winter.
The result: I’m out there, days before we turn the page to December, washing birdsh!t off my deck.
My terrace is fantastic. It’s the reason I bought this condo, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But having spent five wonderful, bird-free summers on that terrace, all I can think about is this past summer, when the torrential downpour of birdsh!t began.
So while I don’t think the “downsides of terrace living” cancel out the upsides, I figure I’d provide the following list of the top five issues you’ll encounter when owning a large, outdoor space in a downtown Toronto condominium:
1) Cigarette Butts
This is, always has been, and always will be, reason number-one.
I’ve written about this time and time again, and nothing will ever change.
Putting up notices in the elevators won’t work.
Sending out group emails won’t either.
When you have (and I’m really going to stereotype here), some greasy, 20-something, wearing too much cologne, hosting a “pre-drink” at his 1-bedroom condo, and he’s leaning over the railing talking on his phone to his ‘bro, while hacking a butt, the chances that he suddenly thinks, “Hey, I shouldn’t be the asshole that I am, and flick this cigarette butt outwards as though I’m in a hot air balloon overtop of a pit that sinks down to the centre of the earth,) is slim to none.
You can’t stop an asshole from being an asshole.
And people who smoke on their balconies, and flick cigarette butts, will always smoke on their balconies, and flick cigarette butts.
I alluded to this in the video, and showed a screen-capture of a few midges on the glass window. But when things get really bad in September, that entire window would be peppered with midges.
The severity seems to vary throughout the downtown core, but suffice it to say, there are some buildings in Toronto where you literally cannot walk outside in September without getting a midge in your eye, up your nose, or in your mouth.
They only seem to dominate your outdoor space for about a two-week period, usually mid-September, but trust me when I say you’d feel the effects.
3) Dust & Dirt
I would like to believe that we live in a relatively “clean” city.
We’re not exactly walking around with surgical masks like the folks in some cities across the globe, where the air quality is poor.
But one constant in the downtown core is construction, and while you might not be living right next door to a large pit in the ground with a crane extending into the sky, the dust and debris has a way of spreading through the air, and onto your terrace.
If you’re hosting friends for a dinner outside, try running your index finger along the glass table as you set up the plates – you might be able to write your name on that glass.
As with the midges, and everything else on our list, it varies from area to area.
My terrace is open air, so I don’t get that much dust. It would seem the terraces that are a bit more cramped, covered, or adjacent to other buildings/walls/structures get the most dirt as wind seems to love blowing through small spaces!
4) Dirty Window-Water
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t blame the guys cleaning the windows. They have one of the scariest jobs out there.
But I do blame every property manager, in every condo, where window-washers are hired to clean 20-storeys worth of windows, and squeegee all of the dirty water off the windows, and let it rain down on the terrace below.
I understand, there’s probably no other way of doing it.
But I’ve lived in two condos with large terraces, and both times I’ve experienced the torrential downpour of dirty water onto my terrace. Both times, of course, I told property management, “It sure would be nice if you told the window-washers to tackle my windows, to make up for the fact it’s been raining muddy water on my terrace for ten days. Would you believe that both times, the property manager failed to think outside the box, and recited a paragraph from the Condominium Declaration about “inaccessible versus accessible windows?”
Anyways, that’s my rant, my problem, and my opinion.
But residents with terraces, and often balconies, have to be ready for both dirty-window-water, as well as water dripping down from people (over)watering plants. Just because you don’t have several hundred square feet, and you’re tucked away underneath a unit or balcony below, doesn’t mean you’re safe from your neighbour that, much like the guy flicking cigarette butts, has no idea where the water goes, once it leaves his balcony.
5) Bird Crap
I think we covered this one in the video, no?
It’s 5th on the list because it’s really not all that common.
But honestly, folks – I’ve never understood the attraction to pigeons.
They are the bird equivalent of a squirrel, which is just a rat with a tail.
Would you put out food to attract rats?
If you live in the country, I can see having a bird-feeder to attract blue jays, cardinals, finches, sparrows, hummingbirds, warblers, sparrows, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
But attracting pigeons to your condo balcony?
You have to be just a little bit crazy.
You’ll probably find the odd beer can on your terrace once in a while.
And I’ve twice had somebody drop their cell phone, and come knocking on my door (once at each condo).
I had a guy come by looking for his “throwback Canucks hat” last year.
My building hired a company to cut away all the excess rubber that was around each exterior window (I’m assuming this was the sealant they used to install the windows), and it rained rubber strips onto my terrace for three days – none of which, the razor-happy workers picked up.
If you’re really unlucky, you’ll live below a lazy young’in who lets his or her designer teacup dog piss on the balcony, only to have it drip down onto your patio set. That happened to a client of mine last year.
The window-washers often tie their ropes to, and around, things on your terrace. Don’t be surprised if they break something.
They might also use your hose, make a mess, clean their shoes and/or tools, and almost always leave the hose running.
I think the theme here is that if you combine people, the earth’s creatures, the elements, and mother nature, you can find any number of pitfalls on a large, outdoor space, in the downtown core.
But as I said from the start, none of these issues can trump owning, maintaining, using, and enjoying a terrace.
Developers are building fewer and fewer of them, and when we do see large terraces in new developments, they’re almost always in unaffordable penthouses.
Now, as for my bird problem, are any of you a crack-shot with a pellet-gun?