Condo Building Amenities and Common Spaces
So I’ve made you go through a lot of the more boring aspects for condo ownership in my previous East Van Condos blogs – so let’s take a break and dive into something a little more fun – condo building amenities!
What are Condo Building Amenities?
Condos in East Vancouver (and elsewhere) often have extra common amenities for the owners to enjoy within their building. New condo buildings in East Van and old condo buildings in East Van offer a variety of amenities (though some buildings don’t offer any). It’s important to find out what these amenities are because as an owner in the building, you have to help pay for their maintenance (through monthly strata fees and possibly special assessments) and they contribute to the lifestyle offered by the condo building and the neighbourhood. The types of amenities offered generally depend on the size of the building, the neighbourhood and the age, with many new buildings offering a plethora of extra spaces for owners in order to make their new development seem more appealing to potential buyers.
Many of these amenities also come with rules as enforced by the Strata Corp (open/close times, alcohol permitted or not, reservations, noise levels, etc.) but that’s fairly standard and are in place to ensure fairness, safety and quiet during the nights.
Take a look at list of some common East Van condo amenities:
- Many wouldn’t think of a parking stall as an amenity, but buy a condo without a parking stall (a typical occurrence in Gastown lofts and warehouse conversions) and be forced to park on the street, you’ll soon change your tone. Most other East Van condo buildings have secure underground parking, making it the most common building amenity. I always recommend buying a condo with a parking spot (especially for re-sale value) since most condo owners also own a car (and if not, there is usually the possibility to rent the space to a fellow owner in the building). If you’re buying a new condo directly from the developer, try to negotiate a second parking stall, or a good parking spot location (i.e. near the elevators, a large spot, etc.).
- Storage lockers are the second most common amenity found in East Van condo buildings. Not every building offers storage lockers, but it’s always a bonus for you, and when it comes to re-selling the condo. The size of storage lockers vary widely (for example, 6’ tall, 6’ back and 3’ wide is a a large locker) though the can be any size (tall and long, or short and wide). The type of storage locker can also vary. Some of them are metal or wooden cages in a room filled with other lockers, some of them are their own individual room, some of them are in the parking garage, some of them are found on each floor in the building. Depending on what you’re keeping in the storage locker and how often you need to access it could make a difference in what type of storage locker works best.
- Most buildings these days have bike storage, which is usually a fenced and locked area or room where you can lock your bike up securely. They are usually found in the parking garage or near an entrance to the building. Often buildings include bike storage lockers because they don’t take up too much space, there isn’t much maintenance involved in upkeep and most building forbid owners from bringing bikes into the elevators and hallways.
Common Green Space, Patios and Roof Top Decks
- Lots of condos in Vancouver offer common outdoor space, usually in the form of a roof top patio or common green space. This is especially common if the units have small or no outdoor spaces. Some of these outdoor spaces provide furniture (chairs, tables, picnic tables, BBQ’s, outdoor fireplaces and more) while others require that you bring your own every time you want to use the space. Some patios have gardens that owners can use and some of these patios have a connected indoor space with kitchenette and more seating space. The new condo building in East Van (particularly in the SoMa district around 12th and Main) offer pretty fantastic outdoor space with amazing views of the mountains, lots of space and comfortable surroundings (though keep in mind many of these newer units have VERY small patios).
Gym and Fitness Centre
- Many condo buildings offer fitness facilities, which can range from small rooms with weights and some equipment, to large rooms with a ton fo different equipment, TVs, nice locker rooms and little extras (like a bouldering wall – Woodwards in Gastown offers rock climbing!). Considering that many people would pay for a gym membership otherwise, this is usually a nice addition to the building (imagine not having to go outside in the rain to get a workout in!).
Party Rooms / Common Rooms
- There are some larger condo buildings that have “party rooms”, typically complete with a large common table, a TV (sometimes with cable) and a small kitchenette. Usually if there is a common outdoor patio, the spaces are adjoined. These rooms can usually be rented out (with a deposit) if you want to have a private party, and they can also be used on a day to day basis if you want to spend time outside of your apartment. Strata Councils often hold monthly strata meetings here. In some “artist” buildings (typically Live/Work), these spaces are built to double as art galleries, where you can rent the space to display your work.
Pools, Hot Tubs, Saunas and Steam Rooms
- These amenities are typically pretty contentious among Buyers. Often people don’t want a pool because they’ew never use it and it costs them money to maintain it. However, many large condo buildings offer pools, though they aren’t are common with the newest developments. Some pools are quite large and some are merely lap pools. If there is a pool, you can usually expect to see a hot tub and many have saunas and steam rooms as well. Change rooms and showers usually accompany this amenity.
- You’ll know the building has a concierge when you see one in the lobby. This person, employed by the Strata Council, is available to help with any issues, ensure security of people entering and exiting the building, accept packages and more. Some work a typical 9 to 5pm day, while other buildings offer 24/7 concierge service.
- Workshops are normally found in Live/Work buildings, giving owners a large space in which to paint, construct, fix, etc. large pieces. Some are a blank semi finished space, and some offer tools and workbenches. You can often rent these spaces out to guarantee that you’ll have the space to do what you need to do. Often these spaces will have a loading dock or something similar attached.
When looking into owning a unit in a Strata complex, you need to see the amenities and ask questions like: how often is it cleaned? Who maintains it? When was the last time it was upgraded? How often do people use it? What portion of the Strata fees go towards the amenities? What are the rules around its use? Has the building considered turning the space into something more useful?