I’m in vacation in Hawaii this week and have rented a fairly modern condo. It’s about 6 years old and is marketed as a luxury property, with a great pool complex shared between two buildings. Spending almost two weeks here, I find myself wondering “Hey, could I move back into a condo? There’s a lot I miss!”
What I Like About Condos:
- Garbage disposal
- At this particular condo there’s a garbage chute on every floor. The lazy side of me misses the ability to roll down the hall and drop my daily bag of garbage off. And that’s it – whereas in a detached house you can drop it off in the garbage cans at the side of the house, but you have to lug said cans out to the curb and back in. (Yeah, lazy like I said…)
- The garbage room is well maintained so it doesn’t smell. Recycling bins are also available and emptied every other day.
- No thought required.
- Knowing your neighbors
- I’m a social kind of guy so I do miss the sense of community in a condo – running into people in the hallways and elevators and having a quick chat. As a single person this was a great thing I have to say. Contrast that to the walled off life of detached living where you walk / drive home and slam doors shut. Yes, yes, I know this is a double edged sword as you may not be the social type that wants to chat, or it could be the nasty guy/girl you want nothing to do with.
- Quiet concrete construction. The floors are tiled here yet I can’t hear anyone in the unit above me. Not sure what the vacancy rate is here during our stay, but I’m not hearing any neighbors from any direction.
Why it Works
- Lots of staff on site – this place is continually cleaned by a fleet of staff that maintain 4 star hotel standards. Most condos are lucky to have a single cleaner come in one a week. No I don’t want to know what cleaning staff bill here is… They also had a full fleet of security staff to deal with noisy units and property damage caused by residents and guests. Again, most condos do not have on site staff, leaving owners or board members to “investigate” issues on a 2-3 day delay.
- Hawkish property management on bylaw infractions – like most people on a pool side vacation – I left my swimsuit and towel on the deck chairs overnight to dry. The next morning staff had left me a note to remove such items from the balcony as they were not permitted. No one likes to be told what to do but I get the need to do so or else the place starts to look like a tenement soon. So I brought my stuff inside. Pretty sure they did a scan by binoculars ever night…
- Nice hallways in the building make a difference, they’re wide, bright, and nicely decorated unlike the prison grey / industrial carpet of my last condo. They are also well maintained, to four star hotel with few marks and scuffs.
Things That Should Give StrataSense Readers the Shivers
- The $900 / month condo fees – as I said above, all those staff running around here come at a price…. And its about $900 for a one bedroom condo here (1150 sq ft). In theory a portion of your fees goes to Waterpark operations. I saw at least 3-5 staff on duty at any time, and that was mainly poolside staff, I have no idea how many behind the scenes cleaning staff there were.
- Reserve fund report for a freakin waterpark. This is truly the stuff of nightmares for Condo Boards. You think it’s tough to estimate the life of a roof? Try a freaking waterslide! I can’t even begin to think about all the items of “common property” a waterpark / restaurant has.
- Constant slate of visitors – A new set of neighbors everytime you visit…. Some great, some bad. As an owner you kind of like it when people (in theory) have a vested interest in the building so that they’ll treat things better. At this condo – it’s really just a fancy hotel to them – they aren’t worried about denting the elevators or keeping the noise down.
- Lack of security – somewhat linked to the above comment is the lack of security measures at this complex. Elevators will bring you to any floor. During the day, you can really enter the complex through a number of entrances. I’m not seeing a ton of cameras. Elevators are not card operated to limit you to your own floor. It’s not hard to go right from the street to your complex door (or parkade stall). Granted, it’s not like this is in downtown New York but still…the Ritz had card controlled elevators at least…
- Renovation costs required for “appeal”, not replacement – Overall, your reserve fund report for a quasi-hotel complex like this would be extremely difficult. Waterpark aside, the simple fact is that you have to renovate more often for a hotel to keep its standards up. Typically in a condo you might try and ride a carpeting of the halls for 7 years, but in a hotel you might have to do it at 3 years to keep the standards up. That means more reserve fund contributions