Back in February two apartments above us had a leaky pipe, the water mainly affected the apartment above us but also did some minor damage to our kitchen as well. This is our journey to get the issue fixed.

In The Beginning

The day that it happened we called the local handyman and he drilled a hole in our kitchen ceiling so that the water would spread further into our walls. That did the trick and only affected a small part of the ceiling.  I felt sorry for those people above us as the water did affect them more.

Then we started on our journey to get this fixed which was more stressful than the actual leak.


This is the company we have our insurance with. Initially, we had hoped that the apartment where the issue came from would get their insurance company to deal with all claims, we didn’t cause the incident, why should we pay for it out of our insurance. In fact, those are in the strata rules of where we live. However, when we initially contacted BCAA they said this was a building infrastructure problem rather than an accident caused by that apartment, so we would have to pay for it. I still don’t agree with this path but there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

After that initial disappointment dealing with BCAA was ok. They were quite communicative, responding to our questions quickly, providing us with good explanations, and explaining things well. They paid us for certain expenses and the cheque came through very quickly.

First OnSite

This is a restoration company that was recommended to us and they were an approved supplier with BCAA. Our experience with First OnSite was very poor.

  • They said “we get bad reviews”, well, now we know why.
  • They said they would start the work in 2-3 weeks, 2 months later…sigh.
  • Their so-called “project management” was non-existent and through most of it, we did it. Project Management was about 10% of the bill, that was 10% more than they actually did. What they know about project management couldn’t fill up the backside of a postage stamp.
  • Their communication was really bad. The project manager never writes back to us. The scope of the project was poorly communicated. Really didn’t have a handle on scheduling their sub-contractor. Two people arrived unannounced by their project manager.
  • We provided feedback but there was still no improvement in their service levels.
  • 3-4 times they tried to sell us their moving services, however, no move was required. I think they just tried to sell us something that wasn’t really necessary, we only learned the scope and move requirement (ie minimal move that we could handle) when their sub-contractor arrived. Really, a restoration company should know the scope of work of such a simple project.
  • They mixed up the final sign off documentation, the project manager thought it had been sent to us, but wasn’t.
  • We project managed with the sub-contractor, First OnSite said they couldn’t start for another two weeks but when we dealt with them directly they started on Monday after we called them.
  • Their cleaners didn’t do the deep clean that we asked for, I had to clean after they cleaned.
  • Their estimate wasn’t very detailed and their invoice basically said: “see estimate”. We had taken note of all the hours worked on this project so from the First OnSite perspective it was difficult to tally things up.

Numerous restoration companies had worked in our community and they are basically all the same. When speaking to sub-contractors who know what they are doing our confidence is restored but it appears restoration companies are full of administrators who should probably just act as referral agents rather than pretend to be subject matter experts.


This is the company that did the main labour on the damage. They used their sub-contractor to do the job. I would say they did a pretty decent job, there were things that could have been better but generally, I was quite pleased.

If we could have bypassed First OnSite and gone directly to Bender this project would have been far less stressful.


These are my lessons learned:

  • Just because you didn’t cause an accident doesn’t mean an insurance company will go after someone else to pay for it.
  • Bypass restoration companies if you can but if you have no choice but to use them then watch them like a hawk, they might diddle you or forget you exist for months.
  • Ask the insurance company, if you do any of the work yourself, like moving items, having to stay in a hotel, eating dinners out, and what you can claim back on. We did some stuff ourselves, got compensated for it, and saved the insurance company hundreds of dollars.
  • If you live in an apartment block see what there are in the rules about damage by other apartments.
  • If others are affected compare notes and worth collectively to resolve issues as they come up.