When you’re buying property, whether it’s a house or a condo, it’s good to know what you’re actually buying. Beyond the walls, what are the electrical components like? Will there be any problems with structure, including the balcony? Are appliances and hood fan exhausts up to code? Is there excess moisture anywhere, making the place susceptible to mold? In essence, what is the condition of the property itself?
This is where a home inspector comes in. A qualified home inspector can help a buyer determine if a property is worth buying before they buy it—even when that property is a brand new condo. While many people feel like an inspection on a new property is a waste of money, it can help identify problems such as incorrect installments—and often the cost of a home inspection, typically a few hundred dollars, is offset by the money saved from discovering a problem before you buy. Unlike with the purchase of a car, which comes with a warranty, once you buy a condo it’s yours—and so are all its issues.
Any qualified home inspector can evaluate a condo, but you’ll be hard pressed to find an inspector that specializes in condo inspections because the market is much smaller.
What a home inspector looks for in a condo (Condo Inspection Checklist)
Individual condo units are not nearly as complex as entire homes, so what exactly is a home inspector looking for?
- The windows are installed correctly and to regulation
- The heating, electricity, wiring, and plumbing is to code
- There is no build-up of moisture or humidity
- Appliances are installed correctly and up to code
- The hood fan exhaust is installed correctly
- Other exhaust and ventilation systems
- The balcony is up to code
- Any exterior issues that could affect your individual unit
Differences between home and condo inspections
Unlike with a home inspection, which looks at the entire property including its foundation, a condo inspection is concerned with the individual unit. Some home inspectors may look at the entire building and inspect the roof, air conditioning, garage, as well as any common areas, but most will focus specifically on what’s inside your space.
A unique aspect is that the majority of the building’s systems are shared elements and expenses. If there are issues with these components, they’re typically covered under the condo corporation. As such, some home inspectors may ignore these systems in their inspection. Details regarding any issues, maintenance, or renovation plans for shared components are outlined in the condominium’s Status Certificate, which you should also read before you buy.
If these components are owned by the individual condo unit, such as the heating and cooling units, the expense is on you and thus the home inspector will analyze them. If your condo has a furnace in it, for example, you likely want to have that inspected before you move in, especially if it is an older building.
Why does a new condo really need a home inspection?
Generally new condos purchased directly from the builder require the owner to take part in a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) to make sure everything is in working order. However, since this inspection is typically conducted alongside a developer, it’s often a good idea to have another set of eyes tour the place with you.
Getting your condo inspected—whether it’s older or brand new—is entirely your decision, but if you’re worried about anything, the cost of a home inspector is a small price to pay for peace of mind.