10 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Townhouse

Going through the purchasing process of a new home doesn’t need to be difficult.  Whether or not you are buying a condo, townhouse, duplex or detached property there are certain questions that you should ask before signing away your life savings.  It is important that throughout the process you are working with someone that you trust that will guide you through the process and help ask questions that you may not know to ask.  Here are a list of 10 that I believe to be the most important when buying a townhouse in Vancouver.

1. What updates have been done?

This is referring to updates on the exterior of the building.  Roofs typically have a 20-25 year life span, Paint needs to be done every 15-20 years and certain buildings need rainscreening.  It is important to know what has been done to fully understand what will be coming up.  Obviously buying a brand new townhome will save you from needing to answer this question but as buildings get up in age it is important to know that the proper upkeep has been in place.

2. How is the strata set up?

Townhomes can be unique and are not always set up in the typical fashion as a larger stratified condo building for example.  It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing to have a smaller strata but you do want to make sure that if there is a conforming strata that they are having regular meetings and your fees are being put towards projects that are important.

3. How much money is in the contingency fund?

Smaller townhome developments will have smaller “slush funds” as there are less contributors monthly.  With that being said the upkeep will also be less as there will be less building to maintain.  If the contingency fund seems low it is important to understand why.  Maybe they just did a big project?  Maybe the building is brand new?  Remember more is not always better.  It may mean that they have been saving up for a big project such as rainscreening.

4. How is parking set up?

Do you have exclusive use over a stall?  Do you have your own garage?  Parking is becoming more and more expensive in Vancouver and knowing what your rights are to your parking stall is important.  Leases, common property, or limited common property are the norm.

5. Have there been updates to the suite and if so were they permitted?

If there has been a renovation by the previous owner and permits were not used it could cause problems with the strata.  Some stratas have rules in place regarding what type of renovations are permitted and it is important to know that you will not need to change anything back to original condition if the previous owner did not get permits.

6. What do the strata fees cover?

Typically strata fees cover overall maintenance of the exterior of the building.  If you have a small yard will they cover the upkeep of that?  Is hot water, heat and gas included?  Simple questions that will help outline your monthly costs.

7. Is there a depreciation report?

Depreciation reports are not cheap and not always accurate.  Because of this, smaller stratas often post pone getting one done.  With a proper inspection and a thorough review of the strata minutes hopefully we can sort out upcoming work with or without a depreciation report.

8. Who was the builder?

As you can imagine, not all builders are equal.  There are a few larger developers that have great reputations and build thousands of homes a year in BC.  In the recent boom we are seeing a lot more smaller developers getting into the business and often need to cut some corners to make a profit.  We can help you look for quality in each home.

9. How is the building heated?

Electric? Furnace? Gas? Fireplace?  Radiant Heating?  Hot Water heating?  There are a lot of ways a home can be heated and it will effect your monthly costs.  Understand how each home is heated.

10. Are there any projects coming up?

By going through the documents we should get a good understanding of what projects are coming up.  Whether it is big or small it is good to understand what you are moving into.


As we mentioned the buying process doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful. We provide our clients with a level of service, comfort and security knowing that we know these buildings and can help you navigate through the buying process.  Give us a call if you would like to start your townhome search!