A condo/townhome inspection is a comprehensive evaluation of the property by a qualified professional inspector. It is designed to inform you of the condition of the property and its major systems. These inspections will give you “the big picture” of your choice and the estimated maintenance and cost of repairs.
Many people are under the false impression that a townhouse or condominium inspection is far easier, takes less time and costs less than a single family home. None of these are true. Inspections on these multi-unit residences are conducted in the same manner as a single family home, including common areas. Typically inspection fees are based on the square footage of the unit just as in a single family home.
A common misconception is that common areas are not included in the inspection. In most cases the common areas are owned by an HOA but if repairs are necessary and the association isn’t aware of this or hasn’t budgeted funds for repairs, who is going to pay? It is difficult to properly inspect the components that only belong to the individual property owner without inspecting the exterior of the building. For example, a blocked combustion air intake for the furnace or kitchen vent fan would can only be detected from the exterior. Items such as roofs, siding and surface grading should also be inspected as issues in these areas could lead to interior problems.
The walls you share with neighbors, your floors, ceilings and internal systems are your responsibility and you must be sure they are in good order. Your home inspector should go over the entire property and give you a detailed description of the unit, its operating systems and the building in general.
Radon tests should also be conducted if the unit has contact with the ground by either a basement, crawl space or slab on grade. Units that begin on the second floor or above would not need a radon test. If the unit is in an area with expansive soils, has large tree present or is older a sewer scope should be considered. In addition, depending on the age of the unit, tests for asbestos and lead should be considered.
In general, an inspection on a condominium or townhouse should include the same major components as a single-family home; plumbing, electrical, heating and air-conditioning, doors, windows, all appliances and the exterior (including the roof). While home owners are often not responsible for repairs on the exterior of multi-unit buildings buyers are encouraged to conduct due diligence with the homeowner’s association if issues are found on the exterior of the unit or any common areas.