The Greatest Hits for First Time Condo Ownership!

Whether you’re a first-time condo owner or are simply starting out by renting a unit, congratulations! The world of condo living is wondrous and wide (and sometimes even a little bit weird!) – there’s nothing quite like it, and for us, there’s no other way we’d rather do it. That said, if you’ve only everlived in single detached homes before, condo living can come with a few elements that the uninitiated might find to be a bit of a culture shock.

Even aside from these details, there are plenty of steps to learn when it comes to mastering the intricacies of life in a condo building – but, that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Read on to take advantage of this greatest hits collection of condo living advice that we’ve compiled for you, and fully embrace everything that life in a condo has to offer!

Track 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Bylaws

You wouldn’t try to join in on a dance that you don’t know the moves to. That same principle applies to your new life as a member of a condo community. This goes doubly-so if you’ve purchased a unit you’re looking to renovate – in this instance, lack of understanding of the condo community bylaws has the potential to not only start things off on the wrong foot, but to be expensive as well, considering that any changes you make to your unit that go against your community’s governing standards will undoubtedly have to be repaired at your own expense.

Start things off right by taking the time to review your condo’s bylaws first and foremost, and avoid making any embarrassing (or costly) missteps during your time there. In fact, if it’s not too late, our best advice is to actually take a quick spin through the bylaws even before you sign on the dotted line, just to make sure your expectations and standards align with those of your new home. Knowledge is power!

Track 2: Assessments and You

Living in a condo community means taking part in the management and maintenance of not only a large collection of individual homes and dwellings, but also the building they make up and the grounds that surround them. That’s a whole lot to keep track of! As such, there’s no shortage of assessments, reports, and inspections that you might need to wrap your head around – here’s a quick list to help catch you up:

  • Reserve Fund Studies These detailed reports work to plot out the course of any upcoming renovations, repairs, or maintenance costs that your building might face over the next few years, allowing your condo corporation to earmark funds and get ahead of major mechanical failures with preventative maintenance and cost-savings measures.
  • Special Assessments Sometimes, things fall through the cracks. Maybe your reserve fund study missed catching something, or maybe your building just ran into some bad luck, but every once in a while, your condo might need to head up a special assessment to take care of an out-of-scope project or repair.
  • Building Envelope Assessment Once your complex gets a few years behind it, it’s never a bad idea to run a building envelope assessment to make sure your condominium’s structural components are right as rain.

Track 3: The Move-in Shuffle

There’s no easier way to announce to your condo building “Hey, I’ve never done this before!” than to botch things up on moving day. Make the transition an easy one by planning ahead, being courteous, and following the rules. Book your move-in day well in advance with your new condo manager, and make sure to use the proper elevator, if they have a preference. Have all your monies ready to go (damage deposit, any move-in fees, etc.), and make sure you’ve got a plan to have everything wrapped up within the allotted time you’ve got to work with. Finally, clean up after yourself – this your new home, after all, so be sure not to leave any bits of styrofoam, cardboard, or other unsightly messes in your wake!

Track 4: The Role of Your Condo Management Company

When it comes to condo living, there’s a lot more to look after than simply shoveling the walks and clearing the gutters like you might with a single detached home. That’s where your condo management company comes into play. Responsible for day-to-day operations, your condo management company works closely with your building’s board to manage the complex as a whole, providing guidance when it comes to big-picture items like reserve fund studies, maintenance, budgets, and so forth. Your condo lives and dies by the success of your management company, so make sure you’re working with a good one to get the most out of your new home!

Track 5: Know Your Board

Another aspect unique to condo living is the presence of an overarching condo board. Usually consisting of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and various directors, these individuals generally meet up about once per month to plot a successful course forward for your condo building. If you’ve got a handful of hours a month to spare for the cause, we wholeheartedly suggest signing up for your condo board – there, you can make your voice heard, and ensure decisions are being made that fall in line with your views about where your condo complex should be headed.

Bonus Track: Talk, Talk

Communication is a big part of condo living, so one of the first things you’ll want to do upon moving in is get in-tune with how your board talks to the building at large. Whether your complex relies on tried-and-true measures like bulletin boards and mailed missives or has an eye to the future and communicates via email, online portals, and other digital means, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the process to stay in-time and on-beat with everything happening in your new home.

This might all seem like a lot to take in, but don’t be overwhelmed! Just start with the basics and keep this guide by your side for reference. Before you know it, you’ll have all the different steps down to an art form and will be impressing folks left, right, and centre with your condo savviness. As always, if you have any additional questions about condo living that we didn’t cover here, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Catalyst Condo Management Ltd – we’ll be happy to show you our moves and walk you through any details that you might be interested to learn!