Condo Life Stages: What Makes Buildings Vulnerable at Each Life Stage

condo life stages

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Condo buildings go through five life stages, each with its own vulnerabilities. Here, we look at what makes condo buildings vulnerable at each stage of the aging process to help you create a more predictive maintenance plan

Under a Year: The Pre-Natal Life Stage 

Feeling confident your reserve fund won’t be needed during the pre-natal condo life stage is easy. After all, everything is new and under warranty. However, this is where common element fees should go towards inspections, even if the inspections are unlikely to find anything. The vulnerability in new buildings tends to revolve around missed minor repairs. When not addressed, they can develop into severe issues in a year or two, even when building elements and components are only slightly compromised. You have lower maintenance costs, so investing in inspections now will save money in the first five years of the building’s life. Also, Ontario regulations require a reserve fund study within the first year to clearly understand current conditions and systems. 

1-16 Years: The Childhood Life Stage

As the building is exposed to use and the elements, your inspections continue to play an essential role in spotting vulnerabilities. Conducting repairs early is always critical to expanding the life of materials and systems. This is also when you can gain insights into the most vulnerable building elements to improve your preventative maintenance plan accordingly. 

Your pre-natal inspections helped reduce issues that lead to future projects, and you now need to be vigilant in repairs at a time when your warranties have run out. As you approach the teen years, you’ll need to conduct reserve fund studies every three years, when the engineer will likely find the need for replacements such as water heaters, circulating pumps, garage gate motors, and sump pump overhauls. Little fixes like exterior sealant replacement and aesthetic upgrades such as exterior painting and hallway improvements are also usually recommended at this stage. 

17 – 29 Years: The Adolescence Life Stage 

Although you’ve carefully invested in maintenance, repairs, and minor replacements during the childhood stage, adolescence introduces some bigger ticket items. The main vulnerability at this stage is a deterioration of assets. As a result, you need to continue with your inspections and develop a reliable reserve fund study plan based on new calculations and reassessment of the building’s condition. This is the best way to ensure you effectively allocate funds today and throughout adolescence. At this stage, you’ll look at costs such as new roofing, elevator updates, heating boiler replacements, new plumbing distribution systems, and window replacements. 

30 to 49 Years: Adulthood Life Stage 

This is where expenses become less manageable. You’ll dip into your reserve fund more frequently as you encounter the most expensive asset replacements. Your reserve fund studies will continue to find vulnerabilities, making prioritization of projects vital. You’re going to face costly replacements of items you replaced in the adolescence stage. Major projects will include updating fire alarm panels, exterior cladding upgrades, concrete and paved roadway replacement, and common area renovations/redecorating.

Over 50: Old Age Life Stage 

Interestingly, during old age, you’re looking at the same vulnerabilities you encountered in childhood. Since you are now replacing items replaced at Stage 2, you can use the same predictive budget and prioritization approach. The lifecycle repeats itself from here as those new replacements follow the same aging patterns.  

A significant overall vulnerability is not being able to predict advancements in materials, increasing or decreasing costs, and the efficiencies and lifecycles of modern envelopes. However, with a predictive and preventive maintenance plan, you can mitigate damage and create an effective reserve fund plan so you can fund the costs at each life stage. 

At CPO Management, a property management company in Toronto and the GTA, we can help minimize repair and replacement costs by ensuring finances are always available. Contact us today.

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