Why Inspect a condo? The HOA covers everything, right?

By Kurt Shafer Guaranteed Home Inspections

Why would a buyer have a condo inspected in Temecula, Murrieta, or anywhere else?
Well, yes, the HOA typically covers everything outside, but what about the inside? It is a common misconception that condos are trouble free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are a few examples of potential problems that would only surface if a real home inspection is done. Each of these is a real life situation encountered in my inspections done over the last 7 years.

During an inspection of a 20 year old condo I was testing the air flow and temperature in every room. The heater was turned on and I used an InfraRed (IR) detector for temperature. (The same one I use to detect moisture). Each outlet was on walls with adjustable louvers over them. Each room tested as expected – I could detect reasonable air flow and the temperature was the expected 20 degrees or more above the input air temperature. But when I entered the small bathroom area I found one outlet with absolutely NO air flow! The duct was built into the ceiling and was not accessible in this condo like they would be in a house with an attic. So the lack of air flow had to be a construction defect by the builder that had not ever been detected before.

Another inspection involved an air conditioning unit that was tucked up in the ceiling above a hallway. It had a metal plate covering the bottom of it that was missing some of the attachment screws so it was barely held in place. Upon removing it I found a large area of rusted metal on the upper side of the metal plate caused by water that had dripped from a corroded and faulty condensate drain fitting. Given the condition of the pipes it was only a matter of time before the amount of water would overflow the plate and spill onto the carpet below.

My work takes me into Santa Monica and West Los Angeles where I have seen many condos ruined by the 1993 Northridge earthquake. But when I say “ruined” the fact is that they are still occupied by residents who could not afford to really fix the damages. So I have seen dropped floors and ceilings, sagging parking entrances, and crooked window frames, all of which significantly affect the look and feel of the homes.

The latest experience was with a young lady trying to buy a condo in Murrieta. She had been told by her real estate agent that she did not need an inspection! (contrary to all the advice from her broker and the CA DRE). Turns out that the HOA was involved in a class action suit by the owners. She was lucky and was able to back out of the deal. The issues in the suit would have been caught by the right inspector.

In closing, the caveat BUYER BEWARE is your best motto. Do NOT assume all is well, no matter how good it looks. Spending $300 to $600 or more for an inspection is the best insurance you can buy.

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