Think a condo inspection is probably easier than a single-family home? Hardly. Inspecting a condo interior is largely the same as any home. But while the property is smaller, condo inspections can be trickier with more potential defects to suss out.

Add these items to your condo home inspection checklist, and you’ll do a better job than inspectors who think condos are fast and simple.

#1: Condo Exteriors May Have More Common Defects

  • Associations might be responsible for condo exteriors, but owners ultimately pay for it.
  • Because associations handle maintenance, owners and prospective buyers might not think to look at the exterior or realize there’s a problem.

The owner is responsible for the entire structure in a single-family home. But with a condo, the association usually takes over maintenance and repairs. Condo owners might never walk around the building to view the roofing shingles on the back side of a townhome unit three doors down. But those shingles could be a clue to an attic leak in the customer’s unit.

Some home inspectors skip the roof and other shared systems in a condo or townhouse inspection, thinking they’re the responsibility of the association. While that’s true, defects could affect the customer in additional assessments. After all, the association handles common area maintenance, but condo owners still pay for it.

StructureTech says walking a condo roof is at least as important as a single-family home. Poor workmanship, shoddy repairs and a host of issues can cause leaks. And general disrepair could mean the customer will feel the pinch of an assessment soon after buying.

What should the inspector check and look for outside?

  • Ventilation outlets
  • Deck manufacture and installation
  • Shared walls
  • HVAC systems
  • Roofs
  • Siding
  • Water infiltration
  • Poor maintenance
  • Shoddy repairs
  • Landscaping issues
Condo home inspection checklist

The building superintendent can give access to shared or common areas, such as adjoining decks, roofs and basements.

#2: Access Might be a Problem

  • The customer’s unit is only one small part of a much bigger whole. But inspectors still need access to areas beyond the single unit.
  • Contacting the building superintendent before the inspection can save time and head off access issues.

It’s a good idea to talk with the building superintendent before a condo inspection. Otherwise, access issues might prevent you from checking the roof, adjoining attic spaces and other common areas.

HVAC systems in condos, especially taller or high-rise buildings, are sometimes installed on the roof. So roof access, which might require the assistance of the superintendent, is even more important for those units.

Condo basements are yet another potential snag. If there’s laundry hookup, you’ll want to inspect it. Basement-installed heating systems need access, and so do shared water heating systems.

Aside from systems that affect the livability of the condo, some common areas could affect the customer in future condo association assessments.

Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Interior or exterior staircase/handrail damage or disrepair
  • Wall stains, water damage and water infiltration
  • Siding damage
  • Walkways and parking lot wear and tear
  • Shared deck rot or patio damage
  • Damaged carpet, tile or wood flooring in lobbies and hallways
Condo home inspection checklist

The tight envelope of a high-rise condominium building pairs energy efficiency with a higher risk of radon gas.

#3: Radon Gets Trapped in High-Rise Buildings

  • Radon isn’t just a single-family home problem.
  • In a sealed, high-rise building, radon can build and build instead of escape

Radon gas has no taste or odor, so it’s impossible to know it’s there without radon testing equipment. Because high-rise buildings are sealed much differently than single-level or townhouse condos, radon gas can become trapped, creating a greater than usual hazard.

Radon testing should be recommended to every high-rise condo buyer. That’s what Trulia recommends. It’s not just an opportunity for you to earn a little more money on the inspection. If radon levels are high, the customer might not want to buy.

Living with high radon levels is a known health hazard. But radon mitigation for a high-rise is a complicated and costly endeavor. And that means higher assessments for the customer or decreased property value if the radon isn’t addressed.

Some home inspectors think condos are fast and easy. And some of them only worry about the interior. Condos aren’t half a home. Their systems extend to the exterior, even if the association is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

A complete condo inspection could be a bigger and more complicated job than a single-family home. It depends on accessibility, building design and the location of the condo in the building. Create a thorough condo inspection checklist that goes beyond the usual service, and your home inspections will carry a greater value for the customer.

The Report Form Pro app makes condo inspections simpler with a convenient mobile interface and professional reports that you can customize. Download the home inspection app for Android or get it at the Apple app store today.