10 Common Condo Problems Every Homeowner Is Familiar With
With proper inspection and preparation, you can avoid some of these
Moving into your new condo home is an exciting milestone that one can be truly proud of. However, along with your new investment, you may also acquire or encounter problems in your condo—some of which are avoidable and some are not.
Remember that these problems could be evident as early as your first inspection so make sure you take your punch list seriously. Go through the list of deliverables and do your research. It's important that you understand the quality of the condo unit you're about to buy. You can also consult and ask help from a design professional to help you with your inspection, if needed.
If not addressed properly, you might have to live with them for a long time. Some of these issues can be dodged early on while some will surface later when the unit is used on a day-to-day basis. Save yourself from stress and expenses by taking note of these common problems:
Take note of these construction defects:
1. Water leaks
Be on the look out for stains on your ceiling and walls near the door and window openings. Evident stains near balconies and bathrooms could mean that there are water leak problems which need to be checked out.
Spot cracks on walls, columns, and beams. Be wary if they manifest in the aforementioned load bearing elements and on your perimeter walls—especially on the façade side. Consult with a structural engineer as this may be a sign of a poorly built structure. Cracks in interior partitions shouldn’t be much of a problem as they do not affect stability.
3. Defective hardware
Some windows and doors may not swing out or slide properly. Your doors should have a tiny clearance from the floor—just enough for them to open nicely. Hinges and drawer guides should also be inspected for rust stains and ease of use and pull-out for drawer hardware (for built-in furniture).
4. No flooring slope
Balcony and bathroom flooring should be sloped toward their respective floor drains to avoid water overflow in other areas of the unit. This problem can create a domino effect and damage the adjoining engineered wood flooring which is the standard material used these days.
5. Warped wood flooring
This can be seen early on or over time. Warping of wood is caused by moisture from leaks near wet areas like your balcony, bathroom, and sometimes, even in the kitchen. Make sure you inspect if there are gaps between boards as this can also result in problems.
6. Tile cracks
Make sure that your tiles do not have hairline cracks as these signs could mean that there is not enough bonding substrate beneath it. Knock on different parts of the individual tile pieces to determine if the tiles are filled thoroughly. Hollow portions will create more cracks in the future.
RL Tip: If you're working on any of these problems, it's important that you have a copy of the necessary changes that were made or requested for. The engineer or representative of the developer needs to counter-sign the document as well. Hold off the signing of turnover forms until all promised repairs are met and accomplished. It also helps to ask about the warranties for hidden defects that may or may not come out after moving in.
Aside from these, there are things you can't control—especially if there are many units on your floor. These include:
Your walls and windows are not soundproof. You can’t control your neighbors, their pets, guests, and the traffic outside your condo, but it will help if you choose your preferred unit location. This affects the noise pollution you have to deal with everyday. Stay clear of units near elevators and garbage disposal rooms as they are high traffic areas and noise can echo from the hallways. Ask your building administration about house rules regarding guests and pets.
8. Unit size and unsightly elements
With the smallest at 16sqm, all new condos have a size issue. The size of your unit is rather dictated by your budget, but you can deal with it by implementing proper space planning. Make sure you take accurate measurements before bringing in furniture and review furniture standards for built-in cabinetry. Meanwhile, exposed piping and too many beams and columns in your unit can get in the way of your chosen aesthetic. You can use wall cladding and dropped ceilings to hide these.
RL Tip: Remember to consult with an interior designer for design strategies regarding these issues.
There will be declared and hidden expenses after move in and even when your unit is paid for already. These include turnover fees or transfer taxes, association dues, maintenance fees, common area fees, real estate taxes, and insurances. These payments are expected of you upon turnover of the unit even if it's unoccupied.
The ratio between condo units and parking slots is not 1:1. Parking titles are independent from the title of your property as you are expected to purchase them separately. If your budget permits, have a parking slot reserved together with your unit. Even if you do not own a car yet, but planning to buy one in the future, renting out your slot is an option.
Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]gmail.com.
Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at]gmail.com with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.
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