How is a condo inspection different from a home inspection?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A condominium inspection is done with same attention to detail as a regular home inspection. The difference is that the exterior, attic, roof, and site—areas of the unit that the association is typically responsible for—are not included, and the cost of the inspection is reduced as a result.

   But the condition of the condo exterior and common areas, including any pool and clubhouse facilities, are something you should look over carefully. Also, we recommend that you get a copy of the most recent financial statement for the condo association, and have a real estate attorney review it to evaluate the financial condition of the association for you. There should be funds set aside each year that accumulate for big-ticket repairs like roof replacement, for example, so you do not get hit with a giant special assessment when it’s time for a roof. Not all associations have sufficient funds set aside for expected future expenses. 

    At least one we know of in the Gainesville area does not accrue funds for expected future repairs and just does special assessments as necessary. The real estate downturn a few years ago has left some associations with a high percentage of non-resident investor owners holding onto units that are under water, with some awaiting foreclosure and the investor not paying the monthly assessment. You should have a clear picture of the financial situation of the association.

   There are times when a condo inspection may seem appropriate but is not recommended. Planned Unit Developments (commonly called “PUDs”) are one example. They are similar, but not the same as a condo, in that the homeowner’s association is responsible for only a limited part of building and site maintenance, which varies frome development to another. 

    Older condos that are townhouse-style construction are best evaluated with a full inspection. While you are not responsible for the condition of the exterior, a complete inspection will give you a list of any exterior components that are deteriorated for you to call to the attention of the association for repair before they get worse.

    Also, see our blog post The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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