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Inspection on a new condo, yes/no?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Eric Mitchell

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Posted February 12 2004 - 06:19 AM

Hi,
I'm buying a condo (first time buying anything) and I am split about whether or not I should be getting an inspection. The place is brand new and it comes with a one year limited warranty from the builder. Thoughts? Thanks in advance!

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark Sherman

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Posted February 12 2004 - 06:24 AM

I would get some one to give it a good once over just to be on the safe side. If this were my place I would make sure that everything is tip top before signing on the line.



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#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted February 12 2004 - 06:44 AM

It's fairly cheap to have done, but don't put much faith in the inspection.
I would maybe consider having a specialist come in and check over some things, like an HVAC guy to check the furnace/ac/water heater, it's a condo so you don't have to worry about the roof or anything, so there's not a whole lot to worry about.

Coming from a townhouse owner, I'd be really certain you're happy with the condo, I would certainly not buy this townhouse again Posted Image

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Max Knight

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Posted February 12 2004 - 09:19 AM

I would never spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that had not been given a thorough inspection and appraisal. Seriously, how much does an inspection cost compared to the cost of a condo?
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#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Cary_H

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Posted February 12 2004 - 02:45 PM

The most important things are unfortunately out of your control.
There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself.
1) Check out what sort of reputation the builder has. See what other developments he has built in the past.
2) In the disclosure statements available to you, see what percentage of units the developer has alotted to be sold to investors and can be rented out. Big numbers of absentee owners that rent out their units can have a big impact on votes in strata meetings. Live-in owners trying to push through motions to raise fees to make improvements, build adequate contingency pools to cover future capital projects and/or emergency repairs can find themselves holding the short straw at voting time.
3)Try your best at determining what the demographics around the buyers the place has attracted so far. Politics on strata councils can be worse than that of our governments.
There is always any number of owners with nothing better to do that muscle their way in as "self-appointed strata dictators". They build an empire of mindless lemmings around themselves to support their own interests.
Almost all the drawbacks to buying new can be avoided buying into established developments where you'll have access to council meeting minutes, strata financial statements, current bylaws, numbers of renters and owner occupied units. You'll have convenient access to talk to owners as well.
Local realtors always know the good complexes and the ones to avoid like the plague. The good ones know who the reputable builders are in the area as well.

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   larry mac

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Posted February 12 2004 - 11:26 PM

I would recommend it. Inspections cost less because there isn't as much to inspect, so less time involved. I only charged about $150 (approx .10/sq ft or less). There shouldn't be any problems if every worker did their job correctly, but there are many subcontractors involved in building a house/condo. Sometimes these guys know that something didn't get done right but don't care if they think it will not be noticed.

As an inspector, I saw things on new construction that surprised me. Example: a $375000 house. In one of the smaller, upstairs bedrooms, they constricted the AC/heating duct when installing the ceiling sheetrock. The sheetrock guy did this intentionally. The flexible ducting was installed improperly before he came and so he would have had to stop his work and notify the builders super. This would mean he (and his crew, these are usually Mexican immigrants) would not finish the work that day and would have to come back. Very simply, he just forced the sheetrock into place, smashing the duct against a 2x4. There would be less air movement out of that vent. The people living in that house would always wonder why that room was always colder/hotter than the rest of the house. I spotted this while the house was still under construction, before the insulation was blown into the attic. After that, it would have been difficult to see.

The builder made numerous mistakes while constructing my house. These were honest mistakes, they happen every single day with all new construction. Sometimes they come up with ingenious ideas to "fix" mistakes. You need to be aware what those fixes (if any) are, so you won't be surprised later.

Don't rely on the builders "inspection". That is likely to be a joke. They may find stuff that is superficial and of little importance, and conveniently not find a critical problem. Ask your friends, relatives and coworkers for recommendations on an inspector. That's the best way to find a good one that will do a thorough job.

Even though there may not be as much to inspect as a house, there could still be some problems to be found. If there are any, you will either find out yourself later (that might be inconvenient or worse), or when you try to sell the place. It will be inspected by the potential buyers inspector.

Good luck.

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted February 13 2004 - 02:15 AM

I'd do it as well. As others have mentioned, the cost of an inspection is very little compared to the cost of your new place. Posted Image

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Leila Dougan

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Posted February 13 2004 - 02:30 AM

Yes, I'd certainly get an inspection. New buildings can have just as many things wrong with them as old ones. If you saw my post from a few days ago about a new house that had that needed the foundation repaired, you'll know what I mean. And honestly, a 1 year warranty isn't long. I don't know who the builder is but a lot of them really drag their feet so that the warranty expires before you can get anything fixed. An inspection doesn't cost much and is definitely is worth the piece of mind on something you'll be paying for for many years.

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Lee L

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Posted February 13 2004 - 03:40 AM

Also, don't automatically assume that because it looks like a condo that you are not responsible for exterior maintenace. Make sure you thoroughly read the covenants or declaration of condominium to see exactly what you are and aren't responsible for.
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#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Tom Meyer

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Posted February 13 2004 - 05:38 AM

Quote:
it's a condo so you don't have to worry about the roof or anything

uh, nope. sorry. you definitely DO have to worry about the roof. I bought my condo 7.5 yrs ago and even though it was a newly converted/rehabbed building, we had to tear the roof off and do other repairs 5 years later. Cost us about $20,000 to do and with only 6 units, that's not a small chunk of change.

You most definitely, 100% WILL be responsbile for exterior maintenance. They aren't called "common elements" for nothing. Your monthly assesments go towards paying bills and building up a reserve to handle large things like roofs, foundations, etc.. If you don't have enough in the reserve, you arrive in Special Assessment Land and it's no fun.

#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted February 13 2004 - 08:03 AM

Well, in my townhouse I am not responsible for the roof, the exterior paint, siding, or anything else outside my own walls.
Why would anyone buy a condo that you WERE responsible for the exterior? that's what a house is for.

The reserve is the HOA's problem, not my own. The only thing they can do is vote to raise the monthly dues, and this can only be done once a year and has to be voted on by a majority.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Tom Meyer

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Posted February 13 2004 - 08:19 AM

I wasn't saying *I* was responsible. The Condo Association is. You may not pay for it directly, but the HOA is paying for it from money you pay them every month. If there isn't enough reserve to cover repairs, special assessments can be levied. The money just doesn't materialize out of thin air. I'd be extremely surprised if there wasn't a section in your documents that authorizes special assessments when needed. What if they found that all the windows on every unit had to be replaced or multiple roofs got blown off in a tornado or damaged in a snowstorm ? Even if your's didn't get damaged, you'd be responsible for paying your share of the costs, whether it comes from a reserve or a special assessment.

The very point of a condo, townhome or homeowners association is to share the cost of upkeep on common expenses. you own everything between your walls. (almost) everything else is either common or limited common elements and is paid for by the HOA with funds collected from the members of the association.

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted February 13 2004 - 09:55 AM

Quote:
I wasn't saying *I* was responsible. The Condo Association is. You may not pay for it directly, but the HOA is paying for it from money you pay them every month. If there isn't enough reserve to cover repairs, special assessments can be levied. The money just doesn't materialize out of thin air.


Exactly. I owned a condo for years that had a minimal condo fee. Just enough to pay for insurance on the building, plus build a little in the account. The entire roof needed to be redone, so AFTER using the savings the board needed to do a special levy...400 bucks per unit or something like that. It can and DOES happen.

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   jinksee

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Posted February 13 2004 - 10:01 AM

As one who is in a new condo that had quite a few headaches to get fixed that weren't done correctly, I would *definately* have a licensend, trained inspector give the place a good go over.

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Hardee

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Posted February 13 2004 - 11:26 AM

Better safe than sorry!

And it might be a good idea to talk to some of your neighbors who have already moved in.
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#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Eric Mitchell

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Posted February 13 2004 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the input everyone! This is very helpful and an eye opener. I will be getting the inspection tomorrow and personally taking pictures just in case. Thanks!





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