Condominium Ownership – (revisited)

It always amazes me how few property owners (either already owning a condo or contemplating buying into one, exchanging their home) know the consequences of being a condo unit holder. A condo is not just an apartment, far from it, or a living space, in fact condo ownership is equivalent to any share ownership in any corporation. A condo corporation is the overriding corporate entity responsible for jointly owning, managing and controlling a condominium building, whereby each owner has the right to vote (usually during an annually occuring General Meeting) jointly with all co-owners. As it is impossible and not practical that all owners in a condo building also manage the day to day operation, there will usually be a property management company – who are non-owners – responsible for this, paid for by all condo owners. Mostly – also for practical purposes – represented by a Council, all of whom should be owners.
In other words, condo owners cannot easily control what changes or improvements they may want to make to their units, nor can they control (except by special vote) what expenses are required for the building and grounds. If expenditures are mismanaged, it can blow a big hole into the (jointly owned) contingency fund.
The only advice I can give to prospective purchasers of a condo: look closely at who manages a condo building, even more closely check out the finances, how much is the remaining contingency fund.
It is well known that buildings depreciate at an alarming rate, the only appreciation comes from the land base and/or is market driven. And older buildings in the absence of sufficient funds require regular special levies over and above the monthly condo fees. In the long run this can cost a unit holder a fortune.
Alternatives to condo ownership are: Either remain in your house and stay in control. Or, sell out and rent, use the money for paying a portion of the rental costs. This way, you can travel whenever you want.

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VOCs and the real cost of carpeting

Ever heard of “off-gassing” ? How about VOC – volatile organic compound ? [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound ] Paints, stains, caulking, appliances, cleaners, new carpets – the backing of it – can contain high amounts of VOCs. These VOCs not only are the cause of offensive vapors and odors, but the active chemicals released can be dangerous to human health and can cause harm to the environment. New carpets, particularly nylon carpets, can contain highly toxic substances including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. To those customers who purchase new household items and who are (as we call it) ‘nose-blind’, odors and fumes can be negligeable. That would most logically apply to owners of large department stores who are daily surrounded by their “off-gassing” products.

My own recent experiences recounting, let me first say that in forty years and many new carpet installations I had never experienced before any such “off-gassing” as with the last nylon carpet installed recently in my bedroom. I was told in the store that the carpet manufacturer – a large company in North America – has special awards for manufacturing carpets with LOW emission VOCs. (At that time I did not even know what VOCs are.).

After installing that carpet, over night the off-gassing drove me out of the room. Within one day I was beginning to show signs of serious upper respiratory problems,  all-night coughing and keeping me awake. I moved my bed into the living room. Within three days I ordered an expensive air purifier with strong carbon filter for processing VOCs, to install in my bedroom, and leave the window open day and night. It has now been two months since installing that carpet, myself still using my living room to sleep in. During that time there were various contacts with the store where I purchased that carpet. The carpet store did not come forward with any decent customer service (except ‘replacing the carpet with one similar’.) But instead referred the case to the manufacturer, who in turn maintains to have a super record for their products. No tests were done to confirm the level of VOCs. The carpet manufacturer’s warranty is for stains and soiled carpet only, but not for health-related problems caused by excessive off-gassing.

In summary: Is it worthwhile to purchase products that can cause both health and financial problems ? or, do research prior to any purchase to investigate which products are the least “off-gassing”, offensive and dangerous, and which companies are trustworthy ? I would advise,the latter.

{NOTE. Names of companies withheld.}