In­spec­tions seen as vi­tal be­fore mak­ing deal

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - MAR­I­LYN WIL­SON

Many buy­ers think it’s un­nec­es­sary to hire a build­ing in­spec­tor be­fore pur­chas­ing a new condo.

Prospec­tive own­ers of­ten as­sume a condo build­ing and their unit of in­ter­est is fine and ev­ery­thing is to code and work­ing prop­erly.

While this is usu­ally the case, pur­chasers still need to pro­tect them­selves against those rare oc­ca­sions where a prob­lem ex­ists.

A friend of mine, for ex­am­ple, moved into a newly con­structed condo where some­one had in­ad­ver­tently dropped a piece of ply­wood down the chim­ney flu, block­ing it off.

When the new owner lit the fire­place, smoke backed up through the unit. Although the condo cor­po­ra­tion took care of the fire­place, the owner was re­spon­si­ble for the smoke cleanup.

A pre-pur­chase in­spec­tion would likely have avoided this prob­lem as the of­fend­ing piece of wood was within view of a ca­sual look up the chim­ney.

I have sold many con­dos where buy­ers think they do not re­quire an in­spec­tion, but ev­ery condo should be in­spected by a cer­ti­fied build­ing in­spec­tor.

Re­mem­ber: It’s a good idea to put a build­ing in­spec­tion clause into your of­fer. And it’s im­por­tant to find a build­ing in­spec­tor who is fa­mil­iar with condo in­spec­tions.

He or she will be cog­nizant of the types of prob­lems to look for and of con­do­minium build­ing codes and reg­u­la­tions.

“What does an in­spec­tor check in a new condo? Isn’t this a waste of time and money?” I am asked this all the time.

An in­spec­tor will make sure your hood fan ex­haust is prop­erly con­nected. He will en­sure that the elec­tri­cal sys­tem is to code, in work­ing or­der and ad­e­quate to meet any spe­cial elec­tri­cal re­quire­ments you might have.

Win­dows will be in­spected to en­sure they are in­stalled prop­erly and to reg­u­la­tion. A good in­spec­tor will also check the com­mon el­e­ments to see if any own­ers who moved in be­fore you have in­flicted dam­age to the halls or el­e­va­tors.

Is the garage con­structed to code with ad­e­quate drainage to pre­vent flood­ing, win­ter road-salt spalling and ex­ces­sive hu­mid­ity buildup?

An in­spec­tor will check the drainage in the garage and your park­ing spot. You want to make sure when you open your trunk to take out your gro­ceries you are not al­ways stand­ing in a pud­dle.

The in­spec­tor will check the condo’s ex­te­rior en­ve­lope to see if it has ad­e­quate drainage and if it will de­ter ice buildup.

If there is a bal­cony, it will be the ex­te­rior el­e­ment in which you will spend the most time and also a source of li­a­bil­ity (for ex­am­ple, ice buildup or water-dam­aged tiles fall­ing onto cars be­low), so the in­spec­tor will ex­am­ine it care­fully for po­ten­tial prob­lems (re­mem­ber, this new condo has not yet had time for water seep­age to cause ob­vi­ous de­fects).

In­spec­tors will check the roof and any air con­di­tion­ing units lo­cated there, the se­cu­rity gate to the garage and many other things you would not think to con­sider.

The big­gest fac­tors are plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal, heat­ing and wiring. Th­ese must be to code, meet reg­u­la­tions and be suit­able to ac­com­mo­date any spe­cial re­quire­ments you, the buyer, might have.

To fur­ther em­pha­size, a re­cent in­spec­tion re­vealed an ice buildup prob­lem that, if not caught by the in­spec­tion, would have cost the buyer, along with the condo cor­po­ra­tion, $20,000 to cor­rect. Def­i­nitely not a nice house­warm­ing present.

Arkadi Abramovitc­h of Artech Home In­spec­tions in Ot­tawa told me re­cently that tech­nol­ogy has changed a lot in the past few years and this has helped to en­sure buy­ers have a pos­i­tive buy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Arkadi, along with many in­spec­tors to­day, uses in­frared equip­ment to check for mois­ture buildup in or be­hind the walls or ceil­ings, which would not nor­mally be vis­i­ble.

In­spec­tors check the ex­haust sys- tems for bath­room ven­ti­la­tion fans and kitchen hood fans that have some­times been blocked in­ad­ver­tently. A mem­o­rable condo in­spec­tion Arkadi had re­sulted in dis­cov­ery of two cof­fee cups in a kitchen ven­ti­la­tion ex­haust sys­tem.

In new con­struc­tion, the ex­haust vents di­rectly to the ex­te­rior, but this has not al­ways been the code. Older con­dos have dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions. In­spec­tors also check for code or reg­u­la­tion prob­lems as overworked city in­spec­tors may have missed some­thing or not been on­site as many times as re­quested.

It’s bet­ter to find out be­fore clos­ing on your unit than to try to fix the is­sue (and be re­im­bursed) later. Ask the in­spec­tor specif­i­cally for his or her im­pres­sions of the com­mon ar­eas as they may or may not do this if they aren’t asked specif­i­cally.

By now, I hope you are sold on the need for a build­ing in­spec­tion for a new condo.

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