If you charge a flat rate for your home inspection services, you’re probably happy when you get a call to inspect a condo. Most condos are much smaller than an average house, and inspecting systems such as HVAC at their source is considered unnecessary.
Homeadvisor.com acknowledges that some inspectors charge by the square foot while others charge a flat fee. You may set separate prices for condos and single-family homes, and thus, have separate contracts. Regardless of how much time you’ll spend or profit you’ll earn for the job, it’s essential to be just as thorough with a condo or high-rise inspection as you would with any other property. The principles you learn in inspection training apply no matter what kind of home you’re working in.
What is usually covered when you inspect a condo?
Inspecting a Condo
This type of determination is easier to make if you already have a checklist formatted for the properties you inspect. This way, you can simply cross off the items that don’t apply, rather than start considering what is included.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to inspect a condo’s interior the same way you would a house. Check to make sure all the electrical outlets and fixtures are working and safe. Take a look at the circuit breaker box as well. See if the smoke detector is hard-wired — this is illegal now in some jurisdictions. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for carbon monoxide detectors. Though regulations vary from state to state, most places mandate working carbon monoxide detectors in every home, condo or apartment building. Refer to our inspection training modules for further details on what to look for.
Check the plumbing in the bathroom and the kitchen to be sure that it is functioning properly and there are no signs of leaks.
Look at the walls, ceilings, and floors and note any holes, cracks, punctures, pet stains, torn or dirtied carpet, broken tiles, peeling paint, or other issues. Inspect the windows and doors, looking particularly at whether they open and close easily and for the presence of wood rot. Even checking out spots like the ceilings of closets can reveal a lot about a property’s condition.
Check all the appliances and see — to the best of your ability — that they are in good working order. Though not technically part of the condo, appliances can hint at the overall health of the plumbing and HVAC systems in place.
Inspecting the Exterior of a Condo Building
Whereas the homeowners association manages the exterior of a condo building, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t inspect it. The roof above particular units may be leaky, and this may not be an issue the HOA pays for. Your clients will appreciate your warnings and take them into consideration when choosing to move forward with a sale.
And furthermore, although condo inspections don’t usually include the exterior of the building, an ASHI Reporter article details why you may want to include this in your inspection. The great part about owning a condo or townhouse is that someone else takes care of issues like exterior maintenance and grounds. But it’s not free. Owners pay fees for this upkeep. Additionally, if a significant capital expenditure becomes necessary — putting on a new roof, building a parking garage, connecting to town sewers — the owners are assessed a share of the cost, and this sometimes reaches into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Condo Owners Are Invested — Like it or Not
So while owners — and potential owners — may see these issues as not their headache, and they are partly right, it doesn’t mean they don’t pay for them. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’ll want to point out the potential for things to go wrong and the cost that could be associated with such repairs.
Thus, inspecting the exterior of a condo unit or the building’s HVAC equipment could reveal serious and pressing issues the potential homeowner would not have known about but could factor into their decision to buy. Once a buyer commits to paying a mortgage and monthly fees, they may not be able (or willing) to afford a $22K assessment for a new road from the units to the street.
A quality home inspector will not only be able to spot these issues, but they’ll be able to educate their clients about them as well. It’s not enough to simply point out the potential for expensive repairs. A successful home inspector will use their education and experience to pass on their knowledge to clients. Whether you’re chatting with a condo buyer about their building’s HVAC system or discussing an unstable handrail in the stairwell with a high-rise apartment buyer, the goal is the same. You want to pass along your knowledge to prevent any surprises from occurring down the line.
When setting your rates for homes and condos and deciding what’s included, consider doing condo-buyers a favor and giving them information about what types of assessments they may be able to expect in the future, such as if you notice cracking stucco, sagging balconies, crumbling parking lots, etc.
At ICA School, your inspection training covers all aspects of condo and home inspections, down to the tiniest details. With asynchronous classes that allow you to learn at your own speed and on your own terms, ICA is especially helpful for those eager to switch careers. There’s no easier way to learn a new trade or brush up on old theory. To automate your home inspections and save time, check out our home inspection report software,