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  1. #1
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    Default Condo vs single family

    As a non-inspector, could someone please explain the difference in inspection techniques. To me, I would still expect the same level of service regarding serviceability of the unit as a house. I can see the ownership issues of the common areas etc being out of the scope, but would still expect the mechanical, plumbing and electrical to work and be safe. If something like a window did not work, was single insulated or had a broken seal I would like to know.

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    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    As a non-inspector, could someone please explain the difference in inspection techniques. To me, I would still expect the same level of service regarding serviceability of the unit as a house. I can see the ownership issues of the common areas etc being out of the scope, but would still expect the mechanical, plumbing and electrical to work and be safe. If something like a window did not work, was single insulated or had a broken seal I would like to know.
    Condo or single family is not a good way of asking the question. There are detached single family condominiums, semi attached condominiums, multi family attached, 1 story, 2 stories, mid rise and hi rise (apartment) condominiums.

    The term condominium is a form of ownership and management. It is not a type of structure. There are also commercial condominiums.

    But if you are asking if there is a difference between inspecting a detached home as compared to a single dwelling unit in a high rise multiple occupancy... yes.

    You are correct that you still expect that all pertinent systems to be included. There are also conditions that may exist in one type of construction that does not exist in the other.

    Regarding common areas; why would you not be interested in those conditions? Imagine buying a unit thinking you are aware of pertinent conditions, only to be accessed for repairing something that is common.

    You should also me made aware if there are any currently planned improvements that may effect you.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    Oh, gawd! You might get HG stirred up! There is a different thread that devolved into Maryland law regarding inspecting multifamily (greater than 4 units) structures.

    Mark Fisher
    Allegany Inspection Service - Cumberland MD 21502 - 301-722-2224
    Home Inspections, Mold Testing, Thermal Imaging

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    My point was not to stir the pot, but to clarify what is inspected when there are two types of ownership involved and the ramifications thereof. In the recent thread it was mentioned paint to paint. Maybe an oversimplification, but if the association is responsible for anything behind the paint, what would the HI look at? My limited knowledge of condos was that you owner the unit and its appurtenances, but the association was responsible for the shell and the common areas, parking etc. As a HI I would not want to be expected to look at an entire complex for issues.

    Steve, I was thinking that the inspection of the complex would be out of the scope of a normal inspection due to its size. I am thinking of a condo association complex that looks like an apartment complex except for the ownership issues. It would be nice to be made aware that the roofs were needing replacement so that additional money could be expected in addition to the normal dues etc.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    Exactly

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    My CAHPI(BC) SOP does not require me to inspect common areas, but I inspect all the common areas I can gain access to as a service to my clients. Lots of pictures.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    It would be nice to be made aware that the roofs were needing replacement so that additional money could be expected in addition to the normal dues etc.
    Jim,

    Likewise, it would be nice to be made aware that the parking lots and roads (if applicable) were needing resurfacing or replacement (repaving), and if the swimming pool was in need of upgrades, ADA compliant items, etc., but that is well beyond the typical condo inspection which is for interior items only. Which is why a condo inspection is less than a regular home inspection for similarly sized/priced units (depending on how the fee is calculated) as the inspector does not need to go on the roof (except to get to a condenser unit if it is on the roof).

    I suspect that most home inspectors did what I did - provided a list of items which typically need renewal at some point and advise the client to check with the condo management to see if there is a reserve for those items.

    If no reserve, or very little reserve, that tells the client that they can expect a huge special assessment for each and every major repair, and is cause to think that maybe they should buy in a better managed condo where reserves are kept for those future repairs.

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

  8. #8
    Don Burbach's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    I report on most everything I see that might affect the owner's maintenance responsibility. Siding and trim may be the HOA's responsibility, but sooner or later the defect will rise in level of importance and spread to affect the interior. Likewise, the roof may be the homeowner's responsibility, or a shared issue. Similar thinking should go into gutters, grade drainage, all common area items, lawns, etc. It is irresponsible to totally overlook an issue because it is an HOA responsibility. The HOA is the community at large and each homeowner is a partner.

    I find that many buyer's and most agents overuse the HOA responsibilities to push off issues. At the time of inspection, I usually get blank stares when I mention common area hazards, decayed wood in decks or fencing, failing landscape walls, and carports in need of repair. Some HOAs here even count a shared deck used as an entrance as an individual maintenance item. Each HOA gets to define their own areas of responsibility. EX: My own HOA maintains LED lights in house address signs(they want all homes to be uniform), but individuals are responsible for garage doors and windows.

    The earlier related thread that may have prompted Jim to start this thread mentions the term interior 'paint inwards'. Do they mean that a mis-wired outlet(obviously on the outside of the interior paint) is an HOA responsibility? I guess I should ask in the earlier thread, but it has already been hijacked.................. I also think that it is a dis-service to not report on the comprehensive condition.

    I explain that while I strive to inspect and view the condominium as comprehensively as possible, my access to some areas may be limited, especially when utility closets are locked, access is through a neighboring home, the HVAC system is on an unaccessible roof, or a water heater is common to several units. In these and maybe other areas, I don't want to go beyond what likely can be considered to directly affect my buyer.

    I make suggestions about issues that may be an HOA issue, and suggest the buyer pass them on to the HOA with a sentence that simply says 'It is suggested that all issues that are the maintenance responsibility of the HOA, should be reported to the HOA as soon as possible for resolution'.

    Last edited by Don Burbach; 08-27-2012 at 10:41 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    I take 2 hours alone, no clients tagging along, to inspect a condo unit, but that way I can cruise the halls and stairwells, find roof access if possible, check the garage for leaks, check the driveway for cracks, and take pics as I go, all in less than 20 minutes. Then I do the unit and record the particulars. The clients arrive and I meet them at the door. I review what I saw with pictures on my laptop. It fills in the gaps and often gives them some confidence to go ahead, knowing a bit more about the building. If the building is rundown and in need of maintenance, I say so, but if it is well cared for with a good roof, I can tell them that.
    I do not do a formal building envelope inspection and my report explains this, it is simply a visual inspection provided as a courtesy.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    I don't think there is one set standard when determining what is the unit owners responsibility.

    I prefer the expression domain.

    I'm sure there are buildings that are "paint to paint", but my experience is more with the unit owner having domain on the interior of the unit. Also I totally agree that if a unit owner wants to move a wall or even do a bathroom or kitchen over (especially in a high rise), they may need approval of the condominium board. This may involve a simple board approval or even engineers review.

    In a townhouse condo that I owned, I didn't have to ask anybody when I renovated my bathrooms. I had to purchase my own storm doors (but they had to match color. The condo took care of the roof, shingles, etc.

    Regarding maintenance, my experience is if it is inside the unit; the unit is responsible, if beyond its the condo's.

    During a renovation across from Lincoln Center we had problems with a drain. It turned out to be clogged galvanized. Because it was before the riser, the unit owner had to pay for the repair.

    At the beginning of every job (if there were no shut off valves) we would have to schedule a shut off (and drain) of the entire riser to install vales to isolate the unit's water supply. After that whatever we did (with a licensed plumber) was all us. The only time the building would get involved was to conduct a 24 hour shower pan test.

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

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    The issues here are time and liability.

    When I do a "building envelope" inspection for condo boards with water intrusion problems, I schedule 4 hours for the *initial* envelope inspection. Last week I spent an hour and a half documenting the problems at, and visible from, from the balcony of a single unit. Granted, this was a construction nightmare, for example the sliding glass door assembly were so badly warped that someone had nailed 2x4s to the exterior in an attempt to reinforce it... but still. (This was a 6 year old, 350K unit, BTW.)

    Obviously, there is no way to perform this sort of inspection within the time and budget available for a condo inspection - and we are not even starting to talk about central HVAC systems, common area electric, etc.

    OTOH, I spend so much time in this style of construction that I see, and I'm set up to report and document, a lot of defects that I *know* many other inspectors who do not specialize in this type of construction are missing - and I feel I'm doing a disservice to my clients if I do not at least attempt to "observe" it.

    OTOH, I do NOT want the liability of clients assuming that since I got up on the three level 150,000 sq ft roof, was in a common elements utility area that took up an entire floor for HVAC equipment, etc, that I *inspected* these areas and the equipment on/within them.

    And some clients WANT to assume the same, no matter what you tell them.

    It's a dilemma, really.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Condo vs single family

    I would like to thank all that have participated in this thread. I can see there are a multitude of issues, some of which I expected to hear. This was enlightening.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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