Avoiding Condo Troubles
August 13, 2012

Stainless steel appliances and granite counters can easily blind you when shopping for a new home. There are people who do their job and then there are people who do their job well. Architects, engineers, and contractors are no exception. This is important when you are buying a new condo.

While all buildings should be built to the same minimum standard it simply isn’t the case. When doing inspections inaccurate details can raise questions. How can you as a condo buyer use this information to your advantage?

1) Know how to look at a condo.
Viewing a condo is an active exercise. Pay attention to all your senses when viewing. Touch everything, are the walls smooth, are they warm or cool to the touch, can you hear street traffic, can you smell the restaurant exhaust from the street below. Walk through a place as if you were living there; remove your shoes, sunglasses and jacket.

Operate the windows, doors, and closets. Try the taps, shower, and flush the toilets. Open drawers and operate light switches. Be considerate but it is a mistake to be bashful when looking. If it is part of the purchase test it. It might help to think of the condo as your own.

2) Make sure you see.
Analyzing what you look at is the first step to seeing. Do the moldings meet up neatly in the corners? Pay particular attention under sinks as well as other areas most people overlook. Do the holes in the cabinet line up neatly with the pipes? Are the drywall corners and paint inside the closet as good as the rest of the room?

While real estate price points affect the finishes they shouldn’t effect the finishing. It is just as easy to install a laminate counter as accurately as granite. When building trades cut corners to save time your intuition should be tingling. If the plainly visible details are suspect imagine what’s buried from sight.

Good homes start with good designs and finish with good craftsmanship. This means layouts should make sense. Does the front door operate if the hall closet is open? Can you even get an oversized couch into the large living room? Are light switches and plugs where you expect them to be? The flow through a place should make for comfortable easy living.

Poor design and detailing = poor construction and future headaches

3) Going one step further.
Research the architects and general contractors for your perspective condo. How are their older projects performing? Have you seen them? Ask the tenants coming out of the building how they enjoy it. Did they require any special levies for major repairs? Good architects and contractors will likely continue to be good architects and contractors. Obviously the opposite is also true. Be mindful of the details.

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