So you’re looking to buy a condo in Toronto?
Whether you’re just starting your search or have already shortlisted your “must-have’s,” taking time to understand what sets a quality condo apart from the rest can really pay off in the long-run.
To help make sure you’re on the right path to the condo you’ll be proud to call home, we’ve uncovered 10 key differentiators of quality condos and explain why they matter particularly when buying directly from a builder.
1. History and Reputation
It pays to do your research on a developer’s history and reputation. Get a snapshot of their status and performance by researching them online using Tarion’s Ontario Builder Directory to find out how many projects they’ve built, how many warranty claims have been paid out and the status of their license to build in Ontario. You can also ask the developer for references and/or visit some of their previous developments to meet owners and learn first-hand how their purchasing experience was.
2. Building Quality and Workmanship
The condo development world works in two ways. One: the developer owns the construction company that manages the construction process; or two: the developer relies on outside construction companies to bid on the job and then makes their selection and contracts a builder. In this case, the selection is often based on the lowest cost or value for money. There’s really no right way to do it, but in the first scenario, the developer generally has more visibility and control over the management of the project to ensure construction quality standards are met. So if quality is a top priority on your list, the choice is clear.
3. Suite Design
Many of today’s modern condos have suite designs that include floor-to-ceiling windows, structural concrete pillars and curved walls. Top developers use these to their advantage and allow them to enhance the practicality and functionality of suite layouts. The most elite developers go the extra mile and use interior design experts to optimize the layouts of each particular suite to ensure it is designed for the best living experience possible. Be sure to look closely at the suite floor plans and think about yourself (and your furniture). Does the layout and design make sense for you and the way you like to live?
A building’s amenities are an extension of your living space and should make you feel comfortable and align with your needs and priorities. If you don’t swim, perhaps a building with an Olympic sized pool isn’t the right fit. On the other hand, if you like to entertain large groups of friends, a building with a large, beautifully designed and functional party room would be more suited to your needs, and therefore, a better investment for your lifestyle. Or, if you love to run 5k on the treadmill to burn off some energy after a long day at work, you’ll want to know what the gym is like. Is it in the corner of the basement with no natural light, or will you be jogging with a beautiful view of Toronto’s city skyline? Amenities that matter to you are important to maximizing the value of your investment so make sure to look closely at amenity drawings and speak to the sales centre representatives about them.
If you’re looking at a condo development that claims premium or upgraded finishes such as granite countertops, high-end appliances, and so on, make sure you get a clear understanding of what that means. There are no “real” standards when it comes to finishes; they vary from building to building and developer to developer. For example, standard finishes included in the base price of a unit offered by one builder may be equivalent to the upgraded finishes by another builder, and vice versa.
Be diligent when evaluating the quality of the materials and finishes to understand what you’re actually getting. This will ensure you’re not overpaying for finishes that are marketed as premium but fall short on quality. This is one of those circumstances where taking the opportunity to make a physical visit to “touch and feel” at the condo sales centre can make a big difference. Don’t forget to ask the sales representatives whether the finishes shown in the presentation unit are standard or upgraded.