Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

Main Content

How To Tell If Your Not So New Condominium Is Aging Well

There was a group of new condo developments in Manhattan that were built prior to 2008. Some were well built and others didn’t measure up. Since these condos are now over ten years old it is a good time to check just how well they were constructed.

Here are my tips on how to check out your condo building:

1. Check out the condition of the lobby and the amenity spaces. Notice if they were designed to be relatively timeless in style. Is your building is locked into a “ trendy dated style.”

  • Does your lobby look a little tired? Check the finishes in the lobby and elsewhere. There will be typical aging after 10 years but if they are of high quality and are well constructed then they will continue to hold up very well.
  • Do your amenity spaces need refreshed? All of a sudden your building can go from a new building to a tired looking not so new building. Do you live in a building where an amenity such as perhaps a spa or dance studio that is never used. Then your board may want to repurpose the amenity space and you will get assessed for the renovation.
  • Lower quality details will deteriorate and you will be able to see the wear and tear.

2. Review Your Building’s Exterior

  • This means the roof , façade and windows. Find out if the roof has been replaced already or if it needs repairs. Find out about the warranty which can be anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
  • Are there ongoing leaks going on in your building? This can really be a big problem.
  • Look for cracks or mortar replacement of the façade.
  • Look in the basement for water stains on the floor or walls and notice if there is a damp musty smell.
  • A good way to keep an eye on the façade is to check the local law 11 report known as the Façade Inspection Safety program. A report is required every five years. It is conducted by a New York State licensed architect or engineer. Look up the reports and see when your building is due for another inspection.
  • That said after 10 years there should not be many repairs. If there are a large number of repairs that may be a sign of poor construction.

3. Check The Windows

  • Check to see that the windows are not leaking. Sometimes the caulking fails.
  • Windows have improved rapidly in the last 10 -15 years. Check to see if your building has used the best available technology at the time it was built. Are your windows triple glazed or double glazed. If your frames are aluminum the cold can come in.
  • Shake the handles of your windows. They should have a solid feel. If they feel heavy then they are substantial. They should be easy to open and close.
  • Sound can be a big issue. How well are your windows insulated to keep out the street noise?

4. Consider The Floor Layout

  • A good layout makes a big difference. If there is a space or closet that is undersized or can’t be used that is a sign that the project was not well thought out. A good developer optimizes the plans to make sure that there is little wasted space and that it is easy to get from one end of the apartment to the other.

5. Review The Mechanicals

  • Review the guarantee and maintenance records for the elevator and HVAC system and the physical plant. Find out how many repairs have been done.
  • Does your building have Central Air. That is the what is being used in many new buildings. It’s more energy efficient and quiet.

6. Request documents And Field Questions To Your Managing Agent

  • Read the condo’s board minutes and the property manager’s report if you are looking to buy a condo in the 10 year plus category. There will be indication in these documents whether your building is holding up or if the board is talking about making capital improvements.
  • Get a copy of the offering plan . There is a lot of information in the plan about your building’s structure, the finishes used for the kitchen and baths. If any need replaced they should be replaced with the same quality or better.
  • Submit questions to the managing agent or ask the seller’s broker.

7. Look At The Relationship Of The Developer To The Building

  • Are there any ongoing disputes or litigation with the sponsor? Just because your building is 10 years old doesn’t mean your board and sponsor are done with each other. Are there any construction related disputes? Did the sponsor get the Certificate of Occupancy? Some condos are 10 years old and still don’t have a certificate.

Make sure you give your building a checkup by using this checklist. You will be glad you know about the health of your building and the quality of its construction.