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When purchasing a condominium, our clients are entitled to have a home inspection in the same manner as somebody buying a house with a white picket fence and full yard. The difference is that the portions of the property that you walk through to get to your front door of the condominium are common areas that are shared by all of the different unit owners. The Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is usually responsible for taking care of the common areas. They are also often responsible for taking care of roofs, exteriors finishes, and landscaping. It is important for prospective buyers to review the HOA Restrictive Covenants to find out what the HOA covers and what the homeowner covers when issues arise.

Many inspection firms economize by opting to only inspect condominiums from the interior drywall inward. We have found that this type of evaluation does our clients a great disservice. We look at the unit and the common areas that lead up to the unit to see what issues are affecting the unit we inspect. We also knock on the neighbor’s door immediately below the inspected unit to verify that the inspected property is not doing water damage to the unit below. We realize that our clients don’t want to find out after closing that the plumbing has caused major damage below that they are expected to pay to repair when they take ownership. We also encourage clients to meet the neighbors before closing to ensure that there are no unresolved disputes between the prior owners and the neighbors that still need to be resolved.   

The following is a partial list of what we look for when we inspect condominiums:

  •       Exterior Claddings
  •       Roof and roof discharge
  •       Rot, Deterioration and other Water Damage 
  •       Floors, walls, and ceilings
  •       Windows
  •       Major Appliances
  •       Windows
  •       Attic Insulation and Ventilation,
  •       Foundation
  •       Heater
  •       Air Conditioning
  •       Plumbing Fixtures
  •       Electrical panel, switches, fixtures, and outlets

Our condominium  inspections include a detailed computerized report that covers room by room, and component by component reporting. Digital pictures are included to help convey the severity of the issues that are discovered.



OUT OF AREA CONDO CLIENTS: Many of our clients purchase condos as investment properties near our local universities and they cannot be present during the inspection. We have found that with our detailed report this is no longer an issue. 10 years ago it required an hour on the phone trying to convey the severity of each item, but nowadays with our detailed report and digital photography, we rarely need follow up phone calls with our out of area clients.


I found this great Q&A by Barry Stone regarding the issue of inspecting the exterior of condominiums. I think that you will enjoy the disposition of the seller as he shares his frustration with the home inspector...

Should the Exterior Be Included in a Condo Inspection?

By Barry Stone

Dear Barry,

I'm selling my condo and am annoyed with the buyer's home inspector. He insists on inspecting the exterior of the property, even though the outside of a condo is maintained by the owners' association and is not included in the sale. As far as I'm concerned, the exterior has nothing to do with this transaction. Why should the common areas be included in a home inspection? - Geoff

Dear Geoff,

There are conflicting schools of thought regarding which portions of a condominium should be included in a home inspection. Some inspectors evaluate the interior only, while others also inspect the exterior. The argument against outside inspection is that the exterior is owned collectively by the owners' association and is not being purchased by the individual condo buyer.

The opposing view regards the elimination of an exterior inspection as a risky and over-reaching omission. Although the owners' association may be responsible for exterior repairs, it is still in the buyer's financial interest to be informed of exterior problems. For example, a deteriorated roof could produce water damage to the interior of the condo; substandard entry stairs could result in an injury lawsuit against the individual condo owner, as well as against the owners' association; and faulty ground drainage problems could cause rot or mold to occur within the dwelling.

Considering the direct impact exterior problems can have on the interests of individual condominium owners, and in view of the fact that each owner shares in the collective costs of the association, an exterior inspection is a reasonable part of a thorough condominium inspection.


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