How to tell if a Condo building is a good building?

Let’s start this one off with a quick disclaimer - This is not a be all and end all guide. These are a few of the basic things we look at when looking at the quality of a building. In order to get a much more detailed view on this, we recommend having an inspector look at the unit, along with the common areas and roof. Also, if the building has it available, any depreciation reports or envelope reports etc.
So the first thing we look at is the building age. Something newer is less of a concern typically, especially if it falls into the 2-5-10 warranty that comes with a newer build. On the other end of the spectrum, we have those buildings built in the 60’s and 70’s. These are not necessarily bad buildings, but will need to be checked for some fundamental upgrades.

  • Exterior (envelope)
Is the building exterior made out of concrete, brick, stucco or a mixture of materials? Concrete is the preferred method for hi-rise buildings today as it has a longer life time expectancy, is more durable and does not need rainscreening - The problem Vancouver knows as leaky condos. If the building is made out of a brick and stucco exterior, we are looking to see if the building HAS been rainscreened or not? Also in what shape the exterior is in, has it been well maintained or not?

  • Plumbing
Are there any visible signs of leaking within the building? Are there notes in the minutes of spot repairs to plumbing or a plumbing/mechanical inspection being carried out? Again, if the building is an older building, has the plumbing been replaced and to what extent? Commonly, when an older building upgrades their plumbing, they will do so in order to allow in-suite laundry if the building does not have it originally. This is done by replacing with a system that can withstand the pressure required for an in suite washer and dryer - Ducting for in-suite laundry is another conversation...

  • Roof
Not always as easy to see, but still checkable. Especially if you’re putting in an offer and getting access to the buildings minutes/reports and having an inspector come through. If the building is an older building, has the roof been repaired or replaced? If not, it’s not always an issue but have they been keeping an eye on it to check for problems or just hoping for the best? This could be a costly item to fix if not watched properly!

As building codes and standards are continually improving, so is building/system integrity. We currently sit in the year 2019, therefore buildings built in 1999 are now 20 years old. Crazy to believe I know! In the late 90’s a lot of changes took place to the construction of new buildings, concrete became the primary material for envelope finishing, plumbing systems were much more up to date and roofing was made more solid. For this reason, don’t be put off by the fact it’s a ‘20 year old building’ or the similar. Overall, a lot of the same standards put in place then, are the same now. Meaning they are, for the most part, very effective and reliable. In the year 2000, a 20 year old building meant something completely different than today's 20 year old buildings!

Once again, we recommend taking a comprehensive look through any minutes and reports available should you be looking to purchase into a building, but these are some of the major items we like to address first!

Thanks for joining us for this week's topic! Thank you to James for reaching out and asking this week's question!
Until next week everybody,

Jay Mcinnes
T: 604.771.4606

Ben Robinson
T: 604.353.8523