When the description of your condo doesn’t match the reality
Like an online dating profile that doesn’t quite match the person across the table, your new condo may not live up to all the hype in the marketing brochure. Maybe the floor space is a little less than expected or your kitchen island isn’t located where you expected it to be.
It can be an unwelcome surprise for new condo owners when the reality doesn’t exactly match the dream.
Dimensions are a common issue — often discovered when you show up with your trusty tape measure to figure out how to get all your furniture into a 600-sq.-ft. unit. To understand why your small condo might seem even smaller, it’s important to understand how floor space calculation works.
Let’s begin with the fact that builders aren’t required to include the square footage of condo units in their materials. It’s only if they voluntarily choose to include the information in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) that they need to follow certain calculation guidelines. In fact, what you may see in the sales materials is a standard clause along the lines of — “Actual usable floor space may vary from the stated floor area.”
Tarion’s Builder Bulletin 22 is an educational tool for new home builders that lays out the rules for calculating floor space. Floor plan measurements are based from the centre line of the common wall, or in a corner or end suite, to the exterior wall. That’s why your 10-by-12-ft. bedroom might end up with usable space more in the neighbourhood of 9.5 by 11 ft. Keep in mind that floor space may also be partially taken up by structural components or mechanical requirements.
But space might not be the only issue. It’s possible that things won’t necessarily be where they were on the floorplan or be quite as the marketing materials described. There can be many different reasons for this. For example, sometimes the municipality requires design changes or a one of the common element systems needs to be moved.
So, what can you do about it? When purchasing a new condo, read your APS and the feature sheet accompanying it. The marketing materials will give you an idea of what you are purchasing, but it’s nothing more than an “artist’s concept.” The details of what the builder will deliver must all be in the APS.
Your unit is covered by broad warranties but it’s important to understand what is and isn’t covered. When it comes to the size of the unit, for example, Tarion outlines only the approved method for calculating floor area. Warranty coverage doesn’t include floor area discrepancies or miscalculations.
You can expect some variance – up to two per cent is considered reasonable by Tarion. However, if you want recourse if the area is not as promised, you need to address this in your APS. Ensure that any commitments to square footage or other features are made in the APS and have a real estate lawyer familiar with condominium purchases review it. Remember that any promises, drawings or features that are in marketing material or made verbally by sales staff are not a commitment.
If you’re buying a new condo or have just taken occupancy and have questions about floor space calculation guidelines or warranty coverage, visit tarion.com, contact 1.877.9TARION or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.