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3 obscure things to think about before buying a condo

If you’re an architect, developer, or someone else in the business of building buildings, chances are you have an extensive mental list of things that you would think about before buying a piece of real estate. I know I certainly do. These are things you learn over time – sometimes by making mistakes.

Depending on the type of real estate, this list would vary. So this is not going to be a comprehensive list of things to consider, by any means. But today I thought I would mention 3 things that a lot of people might not think about when buying a new condo, particularly when buying pre-construction off drawings.

Noisy Adjacencies: 

What’s around the suite? Elevator shafts, mechanical rooms, and gyms all create noise. There are measures to protect against all of these noises, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about these sorts of things. For instance, in my experience, some (many?) condo gyms don’t have the right kind of floor to deal with dropping weights. In these cases, something is usually done after turnover to address the noise complaints.

Exposed Overhangs: 

Does the suite overhang the floor below or sit on top of a space that is exposed to the elements, such as a loading bay or walkway? If so, you might get a cold zone if it hasn’t been properly insulated or heat traced. Of course, most projecting condo balconies also create a thermal bridge that can create a cold zone around it. But the first example could be worse. If you live in a place that doesn’t have subarctic winters (Toronto) this may be a moot point.

Transfer Floors: 

The most efficient way to build a multi-family building is to repeat the same floor plan as you go up the building. This ensures that everything runs in a straight line. The minute you create stepbacks and offsets, you then need to start “transferring.” This means that structure and services will need to be brought from one location of the building to another. This can lead to deeper structural beams and additional bulkheads which could then impact ceiling heights in the suites. This won’t always be the case, but something to think about when you see dramatic changes in the building’s form next to your suite.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but these are some of the small – perhaps anal – details that I would think about if I were buying a condo. Feel free to add other items in the comment section below. They don’t have to be anal-retentive in nature.

If you’re on the building side, you work to get ahead of these issues by, for example, anticipating where you could need additional height for transfers and sound attenuation (such as around mechanical spaces). But buildings are complicated and sometimes things happen. It’s a long way from initial sketch to finished occupied building.

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