Free condo inspection checklist

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Buying a condo is one of the most significant financial decisions you'll ever make. Whether you're upgrading your quality of life, downsizing to avoid maintenance, or moving closer to the city, you want to find somewhere that meets your immediate and long-term needs. Inspecting the unit and building is essential, so let's create an inspection checklist to help you make the right choices.

1. Verify access - Before you begin an inspection, you need to verify access, both to the condo unit and the entire building. You may need to organize a meeting point and time, collect keys, and get permission from management to visit common areas and amenities.

2. Inspect the building - When you purchase a condo, you are buying into an entire community. Along with the unit itself, you also need to inspect the building or condo complex. The condition of amenities and common areas should be an important part of your decision.

3. Technical audit - Along with looking around, you should ask if a technical audit has been carried out alongside the reserve fund audit. If a condo building has FHA approval, this audit already exists and can be used to determine the condition of the building.  

4. Condo documents - Personal inspection will only take you so far, you also need to inspect all relevant condo documents. You can ask to inspect the minutes from recent condo board meetings, contingency fund documents, proof of major structural costs, fees incurred, and recent repairs among other documents. Make sure to note historic condo fee increases and forecasts.  

5. Heating and air conditioning - When you're inside the unit, you should take some time to inspect the heating and air conditioning units. Do you have your own equipment or is it part of a central system? Working with a professional property inspector is worthwhile during this process, with an experienced person able to check things like filters, electrics, and overall condition. Don't forget to speak with the current owner to get a run down of operating costs per season.

6. Ceilings, floors, and walls - The internal structure of your unit represents your greatest investment, and your most significant cost if something goes wrong. Look for cracks in the walls and ceilings to indicate structural damage, damp spots and stains to indicate leaking, and loose or incorrect flooring to indicate previous damage. Once again, working with a professional is a great idea.

7. Windows and doors - The windows and doors also need to be checked for damage or potential future problems. Check that the window seals work properly, the doors slide silently, and the locks are functional and in good condition. These issues are especially important because they affect your security, noise levels, and quality of life.  

8. Plumbing and electrical - Plumbing and electrical needs to be checked by a professional building inspector. Along with ensuring the safety and operational status of these critical systems, they can also test all appliances, electrical outlets, smoke detectors, drainage systems, toilets, and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). It may be necessary to check that utilities have been activated before scheduling the inspection.

9. Bathroom and kitchen - The bathroom and kitchen require special attention, with any problems in these two rooms needing to be addressed before you sign a contract. As the most expensive rooms to renovate, their condition is critical. Check the condition of the fixtures, the appliances, the storage system, the lights, the tiles; and pay close attention to damp, cracks, or other irregularities.