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Redesigning A House VS. Condo

A home is a home no matter the size or layout and designers work in a variety of spaces. However there are some aspects to be aware of when it comes to redesigning a house versus a condo.

When planning work for a house, concepts derive from designers, and decisions are made by homeowners. It’s easy to accomplish aesthetic work with the approval of the homeowner because they are the sole proprietor of the structure. Things are a bit different as far as a condo is concerned. For example, unlike a house, alterations to the exterior of a condo are very limited or at least monitored because all units need to adhere to the building’s overall style. A condo owner could be met with stern restrictions and would probably not be able to change things such as paint color or outdoor lighting easily, which would in most cases not be an issue for the owner of a house.

With any major work a house commands city permits which are typically fairly simple to obtain and not extremely costly. The largest difficulties permits face are if the work encumbers the land or hinders a neighbor, like building another story that could obstruct a neighbor’s view. Working in a condo can be more challenging because it requires permits along with approval amongst the building’s homeowners association board. It might be easy to get permits from the city, but applications for them can only be submitted if the board supports the work. Any time a physical change to the space is anticipated such as wall removal, plumbing changes, electrical work, cabinetry or lighting installation the plans must be proposed to the board.

New condo plans might be rejected for various reasons, but if permitted to move forward the work then needs to obtain an approved schedule. Normally the board will only allow work between certain days of the week and hours of the day to be considerate of noise to the other owners in the building. Electrical and plumbing also needs to be arranged in advanced and the other owners must be given notice as cutting off power or water effects more than just the unit being worked on.

A great benefit of living and designing in a condo however is sometimes the HOA will actually be responsible for covering changes from a reserve fund due to maintenance policies. For instance if the walls are going to be painted and a major crack is discovered or window treatments are going to be installed and the windows or a sliding glass door requires replacement, they may be accountable for repairing such issues. Unfortunately for the owners of a house if something of that nature occurs it has to come out of their own pocket.

There are pros and cons when it comes to projects in houses and condos. The most important thing designers and owners can do is to ensure they’re crossing all their T’s and dotting all their I’s before work ensues to avoid legal complications.

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