Condo life is great for many people who don’t want the maintenance of a yard, but want amenities, and a prime location. Just like a home inspection is not required, but recommended, so is a condo inspection. What areas are on a condo inspection checklist? Ceilings, floors, windows, walls, electrical system, HVAC, plumbing, kitchens and bathrooms, exterior and common areas.
Let’s take a look at why this is important, choosing an inspector, choices of inspections, explanation of the areas, other areas to check, and other things to think about.
Why This is Important
Buying a condo is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. Even though it is not required to have an inspection, it is always a good idea. You don’t know what is going on inside the walls or other areas or what the previous homeowner may have done. Condo inspections are basically like full home inspections. However, sometimes exterior items are not inspected since they are covered by the condo association or access is limited. Having an idea what is on a condo inspection checklist will give you knowledge of what the inspector will look for.
Choosing a Home Inspector to Inspect the Condo
There are many home inspectors out there so how do you choose one? Google reviews, and making sure they have ASHI or InterNACHI certifications. A fewer amount of condos are sold than homes, so more inspectors have more experience with home inspections. It is even more important that the inspector you choose also knows how to do condo inspections.
Here in Florida, condos are typically near the beach and usually older. This means there are frequent updates made with electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, and other items. Florida beach condos can have difficulty with mold growth due to the high humid environment. Hiring an inspector that completes mold testing might be a good idea.
Choices of Inspections: Interior Only vs. Full Inspection
Interior only covers ceilings, floors, windows, walls, electrical systems, HVAC, plumbing, kitchens, and bathrooms. This choice of inspection should be for those properties that are in high-rise buildings as the full inspection areas will be difficult to get to. An explaination of those areas are below.
Interior Areas Explained on the Condo Inspection Checklist
Walls and Floors
Cracks in the walls, or warping in the walls or floors. These can signal that there may be water damage.
Inspectors will check these to make sure they are working properly. Replacing the batteries every year and all at one time is a good idea. Every 10 years smoke detectors should be replaced.
Sewer smells could be a variety of things such as the P trap in the sink, the toilet, shower drain, or Jacuzzi tub to name a few. If there is a smell like something died, like an animal, the inspector will check to see if it is just old food in the garbage disposal or issues with the appliance.
However, if it is not the garbage disposal, the inspector will look to see if there are remnants anywhere of a dead animal. In addition, there may need to be a pest inspection to find out where the smell is coming from if it is not found.
The inspector will check to make sure the water pressure is where it should be. If it is low, it could be a number of things: low water in the area, or an issue with the water meter. It also could be clogged or broken pipes that may need further inspection.
An inspector will make sure the appliances are all working. One of those is the dishwasher as well as the furnace and water heater. There may be an issue with the water heater reset button and the inspector will check the life of the water heater in case a new one is needed. If it is a Bradford water heater, it can be a little more difficult to figure out the age. The inspector may also check if the anode rod is bad if he/she is near the water heater and there is a rusty smell or rotten egg smell.
Corroded or broken pipes – if your condo is near the beach, the salt air can shorten the lifespan of pipes by 20 years!
Ceiling and Floor Issues
Is the ceiling wet or has a stain on it? There could be issues with a water leak. Maybe the ceiling is falling apart and needs replacing. A home inspector might see the ceiling hanging down, or missing part of it. This will go into the report for repairing.
Also, if the home is older, there could be suspicion of asbestos in the ceiling tiles if the home hasn’t been checked and samples will need to be tested.
These are usually in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Inspectors will check around the sinks and in the bathtub for caulking gaps or issues and also evidence of mold. In the kitchen, the inspector will look around the sink, and make sure the caulking around cabinets is still good.
Door and Window Issues
The inspector will look at the windows and doors to make sure there is no mold growing and they open and close properly. The last thing you want is a window that doesn’t close properly so it leaks when it rains and causes a safety issue. Lastly, it could be the window sash that needs replacing. Just like the windows, the doors will be tested that they open and close properly. Door alignment and weatherstripping is also important for safety and keeping the outside air out of the home.
The electrical systems part of the inspection includes checking the HVAC unit. These units usually last about 10-15 years and the inspector can make sure it is working properly. Also, the electric panel will be checked as this is essential for the home. However, there are a few brands and models that home insurance companies will not insure and these are Challenger GFCI , FPE panels, and GTE Sylvania Zinsco.
If the condo has these, the inspector will let you know. This is something that the seller will need to replace as you won’t be able to get home owners insurance. If the seller won’t replace them, it may need to be in the negotiations or think about walking away. Also, the circuit breakers will be check and if any of these are not working, it will be noted.
If there is an attic, the inspection will also check this area. The inspector will be looking for any structural issues, mold, or insulation issues. If you have recessed lighting, make sure there are no hazards such as air leaking and there is enough insulation. Additionally, checking the the attic hatch will be important as it needs to have weather stripping to create a seal. Lastly, the structure of the attic will be looked at and a check for any pests will be made.
This inspection covers all of the interior areas as listed above and also any attics or crawl spaces that are attached to your unit, as well as basements, garages, common areas, and roof. Even though these areas may not be something you have or think is important, the problem is many of them are in the special assessments that you may have to pay for. A full inspection is recommended if you don’t live in a high rise as it will check out everything and you will know what the property value is.
Other Areas To Check
Shared walls between units– this is to make sure there is no damage inside or other issues going on.
Roof – to make sure the shingles are still intact and none are missing.
Siding – checked for damage or missing siding.
Water infiltration into the house, poor repairs from previous issues, and handrails and staircases to make sure they are safe. Also, that parking lots and walkways are taken care of, patios and shared decks are not damaged, and flooring is not damaged in common walkways/hallways and the lobby.
Radon testing – it is important radon testing has been done as it is odorless and colorless and can cause harm for you and your family.
After the Inspection
You may be wondering what the mandatory fixes are in an inspection. Unfortunately, there are no requirements but anything that deals with safety and the health of the new owners should be fixed by the seller. The same issues can be good reasons to walk away after the inspection too.
Other Things to Think About That Are Not on the Condo Inspection Checklist
- Check the neighborhood and building at various times of the day to hear the noise level and also see if there are traffic issues. This may be helpful so you know if this is the unit or complex for you.
2. Review documents from condo meetings- these meetings will discuss issues in the condo development as well as exterior problems, maintenance issues, etc.
3. Reserves- find out if the condo HOA has reserves of money and ask for a recent reserve study. The HOA should have at least 70% of these funds for the condo community. If they do, they are in good shape.
4. Research online reviews and ask residents about living there too.
An inspection of such a large purchase is always recommended. Finding someone qualified who knows about condo inspections is equally as important. We have experience in condo inspections. If you are thinking about buying a condo and needs our services, comment below or get a quote!