Everything You Need to Know About Condo Inspections

How-Tos and Advice

Most people tend to think of home inspections as applying to single family homes, but there are plenty of important reasons to have a condo inspected before you sign on the dotted line, too. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or are simply new to the condo scene, here’s everything you need to know about condo inspections (and why you should get one!).

What is a condo inspection?

Just like a single family home inspection, a condo inspection is, well, an inspection. A professional inspector will come in and look at everything in your potential new unit from top to bottom just like they would in a house.

A home inspection will usually involve looking at the yard, pipes, and everything involved with the property, a condo inspection is a bit different. Because most HOAs take care of all of the building-related issues, a condo inspection will only evaluate everything within the walls of your unit since that’s what you’ll be responsible for as an owner.

Do you need a home inspection when buying a condo?

Because HOAs do take care of so many issues that surround condos, many prospective buyers assume that no inspection is needed. But they’re wrong. A lot can be hiding beneath marble countertops and a fresh coat of paint.

Especially if the previous owner did any renovations, it’s in any prospective buyer’s best interest to have their condo inspected. This way you know exactly what you’re getting into and can significantly reduce the potential for unwanted surprises after you move in.

What does a home inspector look for in condo inspections?

Most inspectors will offer two types of inspection for condos. One is a full condo inspection and the other is an interior only inspection. In a full condo inspection, a professional condo inspector will generally assess a building’s overall health. They’ll do this by looking at things like:

  • The attics and crawl spaces that attach to your unit for firewalls and potential issues
  • Basements, garages, and other common-use areas, especially if they’re adjacent to your unit

While it might seem like overkill to have common spaces inspected, it’s in your best interest to know their condition as well. While HOAs are responsible for common spaces, the costs for repairs and upgrades are the collective financial responsibility of the building's residents, which would mean you if you move in.

During an interior only inspection, a condo inspector will generally assess:

  • The quality of the walls in your unit
  • Signs of water damage or other plumbing and water flow issues
  • HVAC systems
  • The furnace, water heater, and other major appliances
  • Electrical systems
  • The quality of previous repairs
  • Patios and other external spaces

What do condo inspections cost?

You’re probably wondering how much a home inspection costs for a condo by now, right? Unfortunately we can’t give you any hard and fast answer because each condo is different. Whether or not you’re having just the unit inspected versus having an inspector take a look at shared spaces or shared walls will make a big difference.

That said, in general, condo inspections cost around $250 compared to an average of roughly $325 for a house inspection. Naturally the specific size of your condo will make a difference as well. If you’re going for a luxury penthouse with six bedrooms, you can expect to pay more than someone would for a two bedroom, two bathroom single family home.

A condo inspection checklist

Everyone misses things from time to time, even the most experienced condo inspectors. In order to make sure your inspection covers everything that’s important, make sure the following elements are evaluated:

  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Any strange or unpleasant smells
  • HVAC systems, both internal and external
  • Large appliances
  • Water pressure
  • Plumbing
  • Caulking in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Doors and windows
  • Electrical systems
  • Attic and crawl spaces

What do consider if you’re thinking about passing on a condo inspection

Even if you’re moving into a brand new unit, do you really want to trust the work of strangers with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re about to sink into your new home? It’s a major investment that should be taken seriously.

It can be tempting to save a couple hundred dollars up front and pass on a condo inspection, but it’s best not to. Here’s why: Many people opt to simply review a condo’s status certificate instead. While a status certificate is a helpful and important data point, it’s not comprehensive. It won’t alert you to things like a leaky dishwasher that could ruin your floors and cost you thousands in repair costs. Think of a condo inspection as an investment in your future. It’s a small price to pay to know what you’re truly getting yourself into. Once you sign on the dotted line, there’s no going back. The condo and all of its potential issues become your responsibility in an instant.

Got other condo buying questions? Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

How to find the right person for your condo home inspection

Deciding that it’s best to not leave the condition of your new home up to chance is the easy part. Now you have to find someone to actually do the inspection. Don’t worry, there are plenty of tried and true ways to find a trustworthy condo inspector.

1. Ask your realtor. They’ve been at this for a while and will likely know who the best people in the condo inspection business are. 2. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Even if everyone you know owns a single family home, you can still ask their trusted inspectors if they do condo inspections, too (or if they know someone who does!). 3. Get in touch with local professional groups. Especially if your condo is located in a larger city, chances are there are home inspector associations that make for a great starting point.

Ready for a new condo of your very own? Browse our luxury condos and loft condo listings to find your next home.