Would you spend over $100,000 on a Mercedes SUV that you had only seen in a photo, that was meant to transport your kids, pets and cargo to the cottage on the weekends without ever taking it for a test drive or even sitting in it in a showroom?
Of course not. That would just be silly. How would you know if you love it enough to spend that kind of money? How do you know it would even be practical for your needs? If you’re vertically challenged like me, how do you know you could even see over the steering wheel?
I know you would never buy a car like that because you’re a smart cookie.
Yet every year, thousands of people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a condo that hasn’t been built yet from a set of plans that they don’t really know how to assess and an artist’s computer generated photo-realistic drawing that romanticizes the space and furnishings!
They may have gone to the sales center and visited the model suite, but unless they are buying that exact layout, it often bears little resemblance to the unit that is actually being sold, so they don’t actually know if their furniture will fit in it, whether there are any drawers in the kitchen or whether the closet is even big enough for their clothes!
Condo developers hire interior designers to furnish a model suite so it’s drool-worthy, with perfectly sized furniture, cool art and stunning accessories so it looks like a magazine feature. The problem is, after 21 years of working with clients to design their homes in the US and Canada, I know that 99% of people don’t live like that.
Most people aren’t starting from scratch when they buy a condo. They have furniture and STUFF that they’re bringing with them. Do you notice in condo model suites’ photos and magazine shots there is never any STUFF??
There are no books, no magazines (oh, maybe there’s one or two artfully arranged on the coffee table with a vase of
fake PERFECT flowers…), no pet beds or poop stains on the rugs, no kids’ toys…there are 3 blouses, 3 skirts, 2 suits and 4 pairs of shoes in the master bedroom closet, the bed has a perfectly wrinkle-free duvet, 14 stunning pillows, and a beautifully arranged throw… there is a dining table for 4 set with the most gorgeous dishes and napkins…all the furniture is white or pale grey which has no spit-up or red wine stains on it…
But do you know if there are any drawers in the kitchen??
Do you think I’m exaggerating?
Buying a condo is a HUGE investment for most people. And for the most part it’s the place you’ll live with your family and maybe a pet or two. Even if you’re going to be living alone, doesn’t it make sense to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a consultation with an interior design/space planning professional before you commit hundreds of thousands of your money to be sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting?
Information is power.
And having information about a condo’s deficiencies before you put down a deposit can allow you the opportunity to negotiate with the developer. And it could save you many THAAAAAOUSANDS of dollars on remedial work AFTER you take possession and discover that the kitchen island is only 18″ deep from front to back instead of a practical and standard 27 1/2″.
This happened to a client I’m currently working with. She had already put down her deposit before I was hired, but fortunately, since the building is still mid-construction and the kitchen wasn’t yet installed, at my urging, she was able to get the developer to agree not to install that ridiculous island so I could design something functional that we will install after she takes possession. However, in this case, the developer won’t allow us to go into the unit to physically measure the space until the closing date, so since I don’t know what size the island must be to allow for proper clearances, I can’t do final designs until after the close. The result is, the order and installation for the island and other built-ins will be delayed, costing her time and money.
Not to mention a teeny, weeny bit of stress.
Oh, and another thing: Once the developer tells you your move in date, add 6 months to that, otherwise you may be left out in the cold. Literally.
So do yourself a favor. If you or anyone you know is thinking of buying a condo from plans, hire someone like me to review them before being locked in to something that could cause considerable aggravation and money later on. If you’re reluctant to spend the $250 that I charge for that consultation, just be aware of the old saying,
“Penny Wise, pound foolish.”
Next time: what you need to know about renovating an existing condo.
In the meantime, if you’d like to receive my weekly posts to your inbox without searching the classifieds to find it, sign up here, and as a thank you, receive my free digital kitchen planner. I never share, sell, or trade your information, and I don’t inundate you with sales messages either. Just good, practical stuff with a bit of humor and fun. And if you know anyone else this might appeal to, please pass it along. It’s always more fun with a friend.