Whether you’re eying your first home or downsizing from a decades-loved family home, an older condominium offers some appealing features you might not find with a newer building.
Many condos built in the 1970s, for example, will have significantly larger floorplans than those typically built today, explains Blaise McDonald, from MAC Renovations. In fact, it’s not unusual to see two-bedroom units in the 1,200-square-foot range, often with gorgeous views. To buy a similar-sized modern unit would cost considerably more.
Like a single-family home, if the “bones” of an older condo are good, and needed updates are largely cosmetic, it can worth investing in a renovation to bring the features you want to a space you’ll love.
That said, condo renovations require some specific practices that single-family home renovations don’t, Blaise notes.
Part of that includes involving the strata council at the outset of any renovation. “We’re not only working for the client, we’re also working for the strata,” he says.
Blaise shares a few planning points for condo owners to consider:
- Logistics: Remember that tools and materials will need to be brought up and down the stairs, or elevator where possible, which can add to time and labour requirements. Be sure to ask potential contractors about steps taken to protect elevators and common areas, and to accommodate parking needs.
- Pre-approvals: Before beginning work, MAC asks homeowners to provide a letter of approval from the strata, Blaise notes. Homeowners must typically also accept responsibility for any damages that could occur, so it’s essential to ensure your renovation professionals have appropriate insurance and experience to undertake the planned work. “Even if you buy a cheap fixture from a big box store and it leaks and damages the building below you, you could be responsible,” Blaise says.
- Limitations: Depending on the size and design of your condominium, you could face certain limitations – you may not be able to accommodate that extra-wide refrigerator or roomy island, for example.
- Structural challenges: Any structural changes must be designed by an architect and/or structural engineer, to ensure renovations don’t negatively impact the building or other units. During work in an older building, it may also be necessary to bring other elements up to code, such as fire separation.
The good news? The rewards can be worth the work. “Even simple dress-ups like a bathroom update will make a big difference and make your new home yours,” Blaise says.