New condo buyers ask me all the time “Do I really need a home inspection for a condo?” After all, there’s no roof to climb or crawl space to inspect. My answer is, if you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on anything, why wouldn’t you want a professional to inspect it and point out any nasty surprises before you sign the dotted line?
I think many condo buyers, especially ones who are new to condos, believe that condo fees cover everything. There’s this feeling that if the plumbing leaks or the electrical system fails, the condo fees cover it. But the truth is far less reassuring than that.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a condo. Let’s look at them in two groups, which I think will make it clear why smart buyers include a condo inspection as part of their purchase.
What Condo Fees Usually Cover
Common elements are not included in a condo inspection because they are covered by the technical audit performed by the condominium corporation. These common elements are a shared responsibility among all unit owners. In theory, these are the things that your condo board plans contingencies for, and for which part of your condo fees are set aside.
What Condo Fees Don’t Cover
The general rule is if it’s not a common element, it’s not covered. In other words, you’re individually on the hook for everything inside your unit, like all the appliances, and all the systems like your heating and air-conditioning unit, sinks and leaky faucets. For example, if your toilet wasn’t properly installed and later caused a slow leak that caused damage to the unit below yours, you might be on the hook for the damage to both your neighbour and the condo corporation. Your inspector will be looking for evidence of what is happening in the unit above yours. If they find any leakage or moisture seeping into your unit, wouldn’t you want to know?