King5 ran a story on construction defects at conversion projects. When the condo market was booming in Seattle, apartment conversions were a much preferred development over new construction projects which usually go through longer planning, design review, city approval, numerous permit applications, lengthy construction, and larger loans from the bank.
In the midst of this conversion trend, there were developers that did a pretty good job with their projects carrying out extensive remodeling work on the exterior and interior of the building and other developers that went with minimal work, low-cost finishes, and often overlooked aspects of the conversion process.
Here are a few tips to minimize surprises:
1.) Research the developer past conversion projects. Talk to some homeowners (if possible) on their experiences after their move in. Did the building have any problems? How were the problems discovered? Were the developers responsive in addressing defects?
2.) Order an inspection. There is a misconception that new construction or conversion projects are usually defect free. They are not! A lot of time, the systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, etc.) are not used long enough for homebuyers to detect any type of defects. An inspector can conduct necessary testing to uncover potential problems, systems that are not installed properly, and up to codes.
3.) During the walk through, conduct a detailed inspection before closing. Common items that I usually come across are missing bumpers in kitchen cabinets, water temperature in the bathroom are switched, bedroom doors are out of alignment, and bathtub faucets are not properly installed. These are smaller items that can be easily fixed by the developer but can be annoying if you discover it only after your move in. Imagine trying to take a hot shower and the water flowing is cold.
4.) Remember to request for the manufacturer’s warranty deeds for all the appliances and mail the warranty. Most developers will usually include that in your home but is a common item that can slip homebuyers’ minds when they are busy planning their move. It will also be a good idea to get a list of the companies that installed all the finishes, especially if the developers like to use European finshes that might not be easy to replace or find locally. For an example, light bulbs for fancy types of lighting.