At the right price point, remodeling may be a great option to get the location you want and personalize the finishes to your style.
Thoughtful consideration should be given to make sure you have the information you need to make informed buying decisions. Here are some things to weigh out in your exploration.
Be “in the know”
Before you dive into a remodeling project in a condominium be aware that there are many more things to consider than with a single-family home. With condominiums, there is a governing body and rules and regulations that lay out what things are allowed or not allowed including architectural guidelines as well as restrictions on things like materials, finishes, and times that construction can be performed during.
Knowing what these restrictions and requirements are before finalizing your purchase decision will help you avoid missteps and surprises. Having this knowledge also helps you avoid actions that could get you off to the wrong start with your neighbors and community. Your Realtor can obtain copies of these governing documents in advance of your decision to extend an offer on any given condo.
When deciding whether to purchase a condo that needs remodeling, you should work with your realtor to do estimations of the post-remodel value of the property to ensure that you are in good financial shape at the end in consideration of the cost of the original purchase plus the investment of upgrades. In some cases, homeowners are fine with putting money into the property that they may not get out when they go to sell. However, if you are in a position where you need your investments to be valued when you sell, it is worth doing some projections and estimations to make smart, financially sound remodel decisions.
Have a Vision
Taking the time to think through and lay out your vision and end-goal will help guide your remodel decisions. What is your intended use of the property (e.g. personal use, seasonal use, full-time use, rental use, short term use). Remodeling plans can then be aligned to your goal to ensure that you are making smart investment decisions. Your remodeling plans may look very different if you are planning to sell the property in a short period of time, or if you are going to be renting the property versus remodeling it with the intent to occupy the property for the foreseeable future.
Examine Structural Limitations
Because condos are inside a defined, shared exterior, there are architectural elements that may not be modifiable. These architectural elements may limit changes that you want to make. It is better to know what these confinements are before taking the remodel plunge. If the changes that you wish to make are extensive or involve moving and/or removing walls, it is always a good idea to bring in an expert early in the process. This professional can provide feedback on the feasibility of changes you wish to make in light of restrictions as well as budget considerations. Keep in mind that ceilings in condos are typically concrete, which affects how you deal with ceiling elements such as lighting and ventilation.
Enhance versus Remove
You may have to think out of the box to come up with viable solutions to your desired outcome. Removing and replacing may not be the best option in all cases. Explore options for enhancing existing elements may be more feasible. For example, rather than removing and replacing heavy entrance doors, you may be able to enhance the doors to give them a brand new look. Adding trim to walls may also give a room a new look.
Hiring an expert with knowledge and experience working in local condos will help make the process go smoother. They can ensure that all requirements are adhered to as well as coordinating work and deliveries to keep you compliant and in the good graces of your neighbors. These same resources may have relationships with building management that will serve you well.
Stay Out Of The Way
Kudos to those that have the appetite to live through construction. However, being able to complete the work before moving into the condo not only allows you to enjoy the finished product, it also makes life easier. Taking this approach lessens the stress that comes from living amidst construction chaos. Check with your condo association to see if units or guest suites within the condominium are available as this provides a great opportunity to be nearby without the burden of construction zones. Not only is there a benefit to not living through the construction, it also minimizes the disruption to the construction itself as home owners living onsite, may get in the way and/or slow things down.
If you decide to tackle a remodeling project in a condominium, doing your homework up front will help you feel good about the final product. Allow your realtor to be a part of thinking through the cost-benefit scenarios. That partnership will serve you well.
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