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  1. #1
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    Default Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Looking at a condo that has been converted from an apartment - what are the important differences for inspection purposes?

    Almost everything I can think of applies to both:
    Firewall requirements -
    Heating system (multiple family units cannot share forced air heating ducts) -
    Electrical - each tenant must have access to a main electrical disconnect -

    Can you think of any inspection differences that might apply to a condo differently than a standard apartment in an apartment building?

    Terry

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Hi Terry
    This means it was rehabbed and often times that is not done well.

    Pay particular attention as to how old mixes with new.

    Did they cover a old stone foundation with drywall and turn the first floor unit into a duplex would be one good example.(Mold issues)(covered floor drains)

    Did they add extra power consuming items such as a Spa tub and leave in the old 40 gallon Hot water tank.

    I could go on but hope you get the idea.


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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Thanks Bob,

    Yeah, I know what you mean. When I hear the realtor tell me the age of the house, but then proudly state "but it was remodeled", is when I get the most nervous. Especially in the rural areas in this state.

    Of course there are big differences when it comes to the ownership contracts, mortgage and financing, condo association, etc.
    But this realtor made such a big deal about this being converted to a condo, I was just trying to think of any code differences. After all, both are multi-family buildings, and rules for one should apply to the other.


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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    Thanks Bob,

    Yeah, I know what you mean. When I hear the realtor tell me the age of the house, but then proudly state "but it was remodeled", is when I get the most nervous. Especially in the rural areas in this state.

    Of course there are big differences when it comes to the ownership contracts, mortgage and financing, condo association, etc.
    But this realtor made such a big deal about this being converted to a condo, I was just trying to think of any code differences. After all, both are multi-family buildings, and rules for one should apply to the other.
    Since we are not IHJ I would not worry.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    Looking at a condo that has been converted from an apartment - what are the important differences for inspection purposes?

    Almost everything I can think of applies to both:
    Firewall requirements -
    Heating system (multiple family units cannot share forced air heating ducts) -
    Electrical - each tenant must have access to a main electrical disconnect -

    Can you think of any inspection differences that might apply to a condo differently than a standard apartment in an apartment building?

    Terry,

    There are NO differences in construction between an "apartment" and a "condo" - they are both constructed to the same exact codes and same exact sections of the codes.

    Both are dwelling units within a single common structure.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    There are NO differences in construction between an "apartment" and a "condo"
    JP: Maybe. Where I work apartments are built like temporary structures, and condos a little bit better. In this particular case, where an apartment has been converted to a condo, again in my area, you would have a dog house badly remodeled.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    You should make sure their is a drip pan under the washing machine, hot water heater, and furnace, especially if this are on upper floors.

    Proper fire breaks are very important, age of roof, any special assessments in the near future for repairs.

    Its a long list hope this is helpful.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: Maybe. Where I work apartments are built like temporary structures, and condos a little bit better. In this particular case, where an apartment has been converted to a condo, again in my area, you would have a dog house badly remodeled.
    In older American cities the rehabs are built on a better base of double and triple wythe brick that has withstood the test of time.

    Stone foundations are another story.(parge coating from inside does little to help)

    Problems occur when they mix old with new improperly.

    As far as the drain pans go they would also need to have a drain system.
    Although I still recommend a drain pan it is rare to see around here and with no drain retrofit it can only hold a small amount of water.


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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    In a condo you also have to be concerned with common areas and planed improvements. Usually in a condo, the owner is only responsible for the interior, the exterior is usually maintained by the HOA. But,,, if there are expensive improvements the owner can get hit with an assessment.

    Things like heating/cooling plants can get expensive.

    In an apartment (same structure, different occupancy) take tons of pics for the client in order to document the conditions.

    In high rise

    Look for units sharing electrical feeds, check the electrical/mechanical closets.

    Consider the "chimney effect" when determing heating/cooling/pressure.

    The kitchens and bathrooms usually share common exhaust ducts to the roof. I seen a number of cases where the vent was either severed or sealed, and a number of times that the in line fans did not work.

    open fire penetrations, boiler inspections

    Locate the water shut off valves for the apartment.

    Locate emergency staircases, fire stations, test emergency lighting, does the building's front door close, latch/lock etc. s there emergency hardware at roof access.

    window bars, elevator inspection, sprinkler system ? is it inspected?, is the osy valve locked in the open position. etc,...

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 12-14-2009 at 10:27 PM.
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  10. #10
    Gene Koshiol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Firewalls are definitely important, most apartments have 1/2 inch throughout and will require 5/8 between dwelling units, storage areas and dwelling units, utility rooms and dwelling units and floor/ceiling assemblies.
    Draft stops are required in attic space between units to the roof deck, which means separate attic access and roof ventilation. Many other items may have been required by the local authority during the conversion process like adding smoke detectors, updating guard rails and handrails, relocating electrical panel out of the closet, egress window size and height, GFCI and AFCI protection, to name a few.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Koshiol View Post
    Firewalls are definitely important, most apartments have 1/2 inch throughout and will require 5/8 between dwelling units, storage areas and dwelling units, utility rooms and dwelling units and floor/ceiling assemblies.
    Draft stops are required in attic space between units to the roof deck, which means separate attic access and roof ventilation. Many other items may have been required by the local authority during the conversion process like adding smoke detectors, updating guard rails and handrails, relocating electrical panel out of the closet, egress window size and height, GFCI and AFCI protection, to name a few.
    Actually that may be local code stuff.


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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    In an apartment (same structure, different occupancy) take tons of pics for the client in order to document the conditions.

    Steven,

    Actually, by code, even the same "occupancy": R-2

    - R-2 Residential occupancies containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature, including:
    - - Apartment houses
    - - Boarding houses (not transient)
    - - Convents
    - - Dormitories
    - - Fraternities and sororities
    - - Hotels (nontransient)
    - - Monasteries
    - - Motels (nontransient)
    - - Vacation timeshare properties
    - - Congregate living facilities with 16 or fewer occupants are permitted to comply with the construction requirements for Group R-3.

    There is no "occupancy" such as "condominium", it is simply an "apartment house" with a different ownership structure.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Most of the time there's an issue with the threshold for the unit from the common hall (floating on shims with unsealed gaps hidden by carpet and tack strips and its method of attachment to the floor/subfloor) allowing tremendous air/smoke/odor infiltration in these "conversions" & other issues with the unit's entry from the common area.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    The same fire separations pertain to "apartment house" and "condominiums".

    The difference is not in the ownership style, but in the age the buildings were constructed, the codes at the time, and the enforcement of those codes.

    The older the structure, the less code restrictions and requirements in separation, and the less code enforcement of those restrictions and requirements.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Steven,

    Actually, by code, even the same "occupancy": R-2

    - R-2 Residential occupancies containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature, including:
    - - Apartment houses
    - - Boarding houses (not transient)
    - - Convents
    - - Dormitories
    - - Fraternities and sororities
    - - Hotels (nontransient)
    - - Monasteries
    - - Motels (nontransient)
    - - Vacation timeshare properties
    - - Congregate living facilities with 16 or fewer occupants are permitted to comply with the construction requirements for Group R-3.

    There is no "occupancy" such as "condominium", it is simply an "apartment house" with a different ownership structure.

    Hi Jerry,

    When I stated different occupancy I was not referring to zoning as much as I was referring to the fact that one is occupied by an owner (in most cases), whereas the other is occupied by a tenant.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    Hi Jerry,

    When I stated different occupancy I was not referring to zoning as much as I was referring to the fact that one is occupied by an owner (in most cases), whereas the other is occupied by a tenant.

    Steven,

    Which is why I stated:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The difference is not in the ownership style, ...
    In one, the entire structure is owned by one person or entity and the tenant *rents* "their space", in the other, the entire structure is owned by an entity and the tenant *owns* "their space".

    Either way, though, the same fire separations apply, the same egress requirements apply, the same ... apply.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Steven,

    Which is why I stated:


    In one, the entire structure is owned by one person or entity and the tenant *rents* "their space", in the other, the entire structure is owned by an entity and the tenant *owns* "their space".

    Either way, though, the same fire separations apply, the same egress requirements apply, the same ... apply.

    Yes, I agree wholeheartly... and then some.

    A renter may not care if the comdominium has to redo the roofs or heating system or sidewalks, etc. In most condos there are monthy common charges to cover basic maintenance and repairs. When some big, and/or out of the ordinary pops up, they can assess the owners. WHereas a renter does not get assessed. (depending upon the lease).

    Yes, the homeowner only owns his interior space, but the entity that owns the entire structure is made up of the individual owners. There can also be a sponser, who owns all of the unsold units. SInce he owns more units, he controls more of the entity. Once he has (if ever, but in many cases) sold all of his units, the condo is controlled by the HOA. They have an Executive Board, and Officers.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    A renter may not care if the comdominium has to redo the roofs or heating system or sidewalks, etc. In most condos there are monthy common charges to cover basic maintenance and repairs.
    In apartments, that monthly charge is called "rent". (It covers those things and more. )

    When some big, and/or out of the ordinary pops up, they can assess the owners. WHereas a renter does not get assessed. (depending upon the lease).
    That is when the "rent" goes up, and you either pony up or move out ... except in rent controlled areas, then the building is just allowed to fall apart ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    In apartments, that monthly charge is called "rent". (It covers those things and more. )That is when the "rent" goes up, and you either pony up or move out ... except in rent controlled areas, then the building is just allowed to fall apart ...
    You make it sound so easy.
    Are you a landlord?

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 12-17-2009 at 07:33 AM.
    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Inspecting Condo vs Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    You make it sound so easy.
    Are you a landlord?
    It sounds so easy because it is so easy to type what makes sense ... which is not related to actually doing those things in the real world ...

    Nope, not a landlord, but you probably figured that already.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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