At Eli, we stress the importance of looking at the whole picture – not just what exists within the four walls of the condo unit you are looking at. When viewing an open house, be sure to spend as much time looking at the building’s overall condition as you do inside the actual unit.
Here are a few things you can visually look for:
- Is the building’s exterior original, or new? Original, stucco exteriors have a history of problems in the Pacific Northwest and can be prone to leaks. Are there signs of widespread staining on the exterior?
- Take a trip down to the parkade and look up at the ceiling. Does the concrete look like it is in good shape? Do you see any signs of cracks or leaks, with what look like white calcium deposits? This could be a sign that the slab membrane is leaking or has failed.
- Are the elevators old, and likely need to be replaced? Elevator revitalization can be an expensive and lengthy process.
- Do exterior patios look to be in good shape? Or are they showing signs of rot, decay and peeling back of the surface membrane?
- How does the roof look? If you are looking at a townhouse complex, the roof may be shingled. Looks for signs of wear and tear, water stains on the ceiling of a top floor unit and ask the listing Realtor when it was last replaced.
- Google Street View is your friend! Remember, if you street view the outside of the building, you can often view photos as far back as 2009. This is a great way to see how the exterior of the building has held up over time.
The above considerations are some of the common areas where major building maintenance occurs, either on a planned basis – or unexpectedly. In each case, the cost of these projects are borne by the strata. A strata which is underfunded will likely need to raise funds by charging the owners a special levy.
Special levies can be very costly for owners, so it is important to sniff out any possible clues that could indicate a major problem – before you buy.
How can Eli help?
In addition to a visual inspection of the building, the strata’s documentation is the best place to uncover clues relating to ongoing issues. And that is where Eli can help. Talk to your Realtor about getting an Eli Report on the next condo you are looking at, so we can make your condo investigations that much easier to understand!