Rules Differ in a Condo Remodel: Here’s How

You’re ready to renovate. Your creative juices are flowing, and you’re excited to create that perfect space.

But wait. Are you remodeling a condo? If so, this requires some special considerations. The game rules differ from those for a detached home. Here’s the playbook:

Read the regulations: Condos come with associations. These come with rules. The association has put certain standards in place to maintain the best possible conditions for your building. Before forging ahead with any plans, read through the regulations of your association and consult with your board or property manager for anything that will need the association’s approval.

Consider condo limitations: Your unit may be linked to others, so you may not be able to alter certain aspects of your home: plumbing fixtures might have to stay where they are; you may not be able to remove walls that support the structure, or install pot lights in ceilings. But don’t let these limits stifle your creativity or dash your renovation hopes. Just keep them in mind as you plan.

Plan ahead: If your renovations are extensive and the space small, your contractor and workers may require an extra space in which to work. Ask if there is a workshop or outside space they may be able to use.

Don’t fear the painter: One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to transform a space is by painting it. However, many condo owners are concerned about personalizing their walls, especially with deep, dark colours. Unless you’re renovating for an immediate sale, go ahead and make the space your own. Enjoy it while it’s yours. When you are ready to sell, you’ll likely need to apply a fresh coat of paint anyway, and you can make it neutral then.

Get out: For your own sanity, stay with a friend or relative during construction, or treat yourself to a hotel.

Home Hungry: Why Not Co-Own a Home with a Co-Stranger?

Not unlike speed dating, the goal of a recent Toronto meet and greet was to discover a soul mate. Only the objective here was to find a soul mate with whom to buy a house. For many living in expensive urban centres, it might be the only way they’ll ever become homeowners.

Co-ownership of property has been around for years. However, with the housing price increases in some areas of the country, it appears to present a viable solution to home-hungry Canadians, particularly millennial wannabe-homeowners used to sharing.

That’s because you and your co-owner will jointly own a property purchased together. And you may or may not be friends or even acquaintances; these days many are looking to go halvsies with complete strangers.

At the Toronto meeting, a number of wishful homeowners “speed-interviewed” each other, hoping to find a compatible stranger. But even if the homeowner vibe is right, don’t go blindly into mutual homeownership without knowing the risks. As real estate lawyer Lauren Blumas told the CBC, it’s important that co-purchasers sign a legally binding agreement before they buy.

This agreement should detail the percentage of the property each individual owns, as well as the responsibility each has for maintenance and repairs. Also necessary is a resolution mechanism in case the co-owners decide to go their separate ways.

Says Blumas: “(The agreement) would … force you to sit down and think about how you want to structure your arrangement and then formalize it.”

Not to mention to decide if it’s worth the risk.