“The main misconception about condo maintenance is that the purchasers or owners of condominiums think that the association takes care of everything,” shares Richard Harrison, a top real estate agent and condo specialist who serves the Oakland County, Michigan area.
Don’t neglect your condo maintenance and let your property drop in value. Heed these tips to care for your unit and avoid bank-breaking repairs.
Obtain a copy of your condo bylaws to learn about your maintenance responsibilities
The level of condo maintenance homeowners are responsible for varies widely from state to state and from condo to condo. Condo associations also may change their services over time, covering maintenance for more or fewer features than previously.
“That’s why it’s so important when a person gets involved in a condominium to first off get a copy of the bylaws, a current copy,” Harrison says. “So many agents out there will give a buyer a copy of the condo bylaws, and they may be 3, 5, 10 years old.”
Failing to read the bylaws or relying on outdated information could set an owner up for unpleasant surprises. Think ahead when purchasing a condo and request the most up to date bylaws before you close on the property.
These condo maintenance items typically fall on the homeowner
Harrison shares that condo owners are usually responsible for maintaining everything in the interior of their units, while the association is responsible for everything inside the building walls and common areas.
However, there are exceptions. For example, homeowners are typically responsible for maintaining windows, doors, bathtub connections, and light switches.
Harrison shares that much of condo maintenance is keeping your property up-to-date to maintain your unit’s value. If your appliances, cabinets, or countertops become antiquated or dated, you may struggle to sell your condo for the best price possible when you’re ready to move.
Here’s a quick run down of some common condo maintenance items and their respective price tags:
|Maintenance item||Average cost|
|Appliance repair||$150 – $300|
|Appliance replacement||$400 – $3,800|
|New countertops||$1,000 – $10,000|
|Cabinets||Installation: $900 – $1,350, Materials: $100 – $280 per linear foot|
|Windows||$650 per window|
If your condo’s refrigerator dates back to the last century, it’s time to upgrade. Choose an energy-efficient model that’s gentler on the environment and your utility bills. Although a stylish, high-end fridge can cost $3,800, you can find a quality model for under $2,000.
When updating your condo’s stove, there are many considerations, such as choosing a freestanding or built-in stove or a stove/oven combo or deciding whether to go electric or use a gas appliance. Expect to pay between $700 to $900 for a gas range and $500 to $1,000 for electric versions.
If your condo lacks quartz, marble, or granite countertops, consider making the upgrade to meet the expectations of future buyers. The average cost to replace kitchen countertops is $4,500, but the range can be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.
Old cabinets significantly date your kitchen’s design. If your condo’s cabinets have seen better days, paint, reface, or replace them. According to HomeAdvisor replacing cabinets in a 70-square-foot kitchen costs between $1,700 and $11,000 on average for materials and installation.
Windows and doors
Windows are a big gray area in condo maintenance, Harrison advises. The only way to know what repairs you’ll be on the hook for is by reading the details in the association’s documents.
If window maintenance falls on your shoulders, note the following repair costs:
Maintain the flooring in your condo following the rules in your condo association’s guidelines. Carpet requires regular vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning; it has a highly variable lifespan of between five and 25 years depending on the level of routine care and quality.
Concrete flooring’s value lies in its needing very little maintenance, however the costs of installation can value widely from $2 per square foot to $30 per square foot.
Hardwood floors offer the highest in terms of return on investment at 106%. However, over time hardwood flooring can become scratched and worn, requiring an inexpensive buffing procedure, as well as a fresh coat of polyurethane from time to time to protect it.
Known for its affordability and durability, laminate flooring is made from engineered materials that can be made to look like hardwood or tile. Laminate flooring is generally easy to clean and maintain but lacks the aesthetics of hardwood.
In general, condo owners are responsible for maintenance and repairs on all plumbing inside their units, while the association covers plumbing that runs inside the walls and in common areas.
However, when a plumbing emergency occurs that results in damage to other units, you may or may not be responsible for repairs depending on your condo’s rules. Your condo insurance may cover some of the damage if your association does not.
Condo associations typically cover these maintenance items
Now that we’ve covered condo owners’ responsibilities, it’s time to focus on one of the major perks of living in a condo: major maintenance items covered by your association. Most condo associations cover maintenance on roofs, building exteriors, shared spaces, amenities and landscaping — in exchange for your condo fees, of course.
|Maintenance item||Average cost|
|Roof repairs||$200 – $3,000|
|Landscaping||$165 – $540 monthly|
|Pool care||$3,000 – $5,000 annually|
If there’s a single most significant benefit in terms of maintenance from living in a condo, it’s that owners don’t have to maintain or replace the roof. Roof replacement is one of the most expensive home repairs for single-family homeowners, costing upwards of $15,000. There could be hundreds of people living under the same roof in a condo, so the repair and replacement costs are ultimately shared.
Avoiding installing and maintaining landscaping is another major perk to condo life. Consider how your savings on the following average landscaping costs add up over time:
- Mowing: $30 – $80 per visit
- Landscape maintenance: $125- $430
- Grass aeration: $70 – $190
Family pools are a dream for many single-family homeowners during the hot summer months — until cleaning and repair costs pile up. Total upkeep for pools can range between $3,000 and $5,000, which is steep for a seasonal amenity. In a condominium, the association covers these costs; however, the shared nature of the recreation may be a downside for some.
Today, condo associations leave more maintenance up to the homeowners
On average, the maintenance costs for condo owners may be significantly lower than single-family homeowners depending on how much your association dues are compared to the amount of maintenance your association covers.
However, Harrison shares that over the years he’s noticed HOAs shift more maintenance responsibilities onto owners For instance, he shares that while most condo associations covered furnaces and hot water heaters in the past, today newer developments pass the responsibility onto owners.
That’s why it’s imperative to read the bylaws before you move in and don’t rely on assumptions or past trends for decision-making.
“The biggest thing I would say is to read the documents, be involved, be a member of the board,” Harrison says. “Because a few people are making the decision for many. And you want to check their financials. It’s a seller’s disclosure. You want to know the financial situation of the association, and you want the condo docs.”
Condo maintenance varies: Read the fine print before signing
In some ways, understanding the responsibilities of owning a condo can be more complex than a single-family home. In addition to a high degree of variation in bylaws there are differences in types of condominiums such as attached or detached, with different rules governing each.
As with any major purchase, when in doubt, consult a lawyer or real estate agent to help you decode the community bylaws before sealing the deal. These professionals can help you demystify maintenance gray areas.
Header Image Source: (Brian McCall / Unsplash)