Buying a condo or townhome? Don’t skip out on the condo inspection.

Yes, a condo or townhome does present some obvious differences when compared to a single-family, “freestanding”, home. However, a condo inspection is one important evaluation of the property that should NOT be skipped during the home-buying process.

“Inspecting a condo versus a single-family home may create some different items to address,” says Texas-based home inspector, Micah Stephens, of SafeShield Inspections, LLC. Here are a few examples of what can make a townhome or condo inspection different from other home inspections — and why it’s important to be aware of the differences before the option or contingency period ends.

1. Check the roof.

In a single-family home, of course the roof will fall under the responsibility of the home owner. However, with a condo or townhome, the HOA (homeowners’ association) is usually responsible for the exterior of the building. Make sure your inspector is not just inspecting the interior of the condo. The inspector SHOULD perform a roof check. If they notice roof deficiencies, such as weather damage, etc., those damages may fall to the HOA to fix.

2. Examine shared walls, ceilings and floors.

A thorough inspection of the walls, ceilings, and floors is very important when it comes to townhome or condo inspections because these areas are often shared with neighbors or common spaces in a building.

Your inspector should check for water and other damage around shared spaces. If there is visible water damage on the ceiling, for example, a good inspector may request access to the roof to investigate whether the problem has been addressed and repaired or not.

While it does not fall under the scope of a standard home inspection, buyers may also want to pay special attention to flooring and soundproofing. If the condo has hardwood flooring, buyers should be aware that hardwood flooring is a known sound conductor, particularly from neighboring units above.

3. Don’t overlook the HVAC system.

The HVAC unit may or may not be located in each individual unit, but this system does fall within the scope of a condo inspection. In condos specifically, sometimes the HVAC units may be on the roof and/or require approval or access instructions from the HOA. It is best to get this information up front so the inspection is not delayed.

4. What about elevators?

Most buildings with more than two stories will have an elevator. Elevator inspections are NOT part of a standard home inspection. Buyers should request access to the engineering, maintenance, and inspection reports for the building’s elevator or elevators. In Texas, the TDLR lists elevator safety and licensing administrative rules here.

5. Request the HOA meeting minutes.

Let’s circle back to the HOA. The HOA meetings have minutes, which should be available to all homeowners. Buyers may want to request access to those minutes. Look back on a full 12 months of minutes to evaluate if there were any major issues or building failures. For more information regarding property owners’ associations in Texas, the Texas Law Library provides a legal research guide which includes links to relevant statutes, practice aids, and information in “plain English.”

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Townhome and/or condo inspections, although not required, have become a critical step during the home buying process. You’re not just buying that amazing chef’s kitchen or perfect master bath. “You will be buying any problem issues that you likely would never have found during your tour of the home,” says Texas home inspector, Micah Stephens of SafeShield Inspections, LLC. The inspection is your opportunity to gain insight into the current condition of the home and use the material to make an informed decision.

Your future deserves the attention of a professional. If you have questions or would like more information on a home inspection, please contact Micah Stephens with SafeShield Inspections, LLC at (832) 953-6992 or email Micah@SafeShieldInspections.com.

Do you own a condo or townhome? Do you have special tips for buyers? Share your advice in the comments below!

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Alli Stephens is a marketing and communications professional who works to ensure the highest level of service for clients. Alli believes that a wise customer is an informed customer, and she knows that a home inspection provides clients with important details about the current condition of a home.