WHAT IS A STANDARD UNIT?
Condominium Corporations in Ontario are required to obtain insurance for both the common elements and the Standard Unit against major perils such as fire, lightning, windstorm, water escape and many others. Additionally, the corporation is responsible to obtain insurance for any other perils that the declaration of the by-laws specify (Condominium Act, 1998, Section 99 (1)).
The list of all common elements is described in the declaration, along with definitions of unit boundaries. The declaration does not however, provide a definition of a Standard Unit, nor is it required by the Condominium Act.
A Standard Unit Description (SUD) is a description of typical standard fixtures and finishing in a residential unit or class of residential units, provided to purchasers by the developer, or adopted by the corporation. Essentially, the description lists all base-level finish materials and fixtures in a condominium unit.
WHY IS A STANDARD UNIT DESCRIPTION IMPORTANT?
Without a SUD, there is no clear delineation of what interior fixtures and finishes within a residential unit are owner responsibility and what are condominium corporation responsibility.
This opens a condominium corporation to excess and undue liability in the event of a major peril, but it also can create issues for unit owners. Individual unit owners will have varying levels of unit insurance. In the absence of an SUD, it is possible that individual unit owners could be paying for their own insurance on finishes that are in fact already covered by the condominium’s insurance. This is a waste of resources for unit owners.
As such, if your condominium corporation does not currently have an SUD, it is recommended that one be created by a qualified professional and a by-law be passed. This will benefit both the condominium corporation and the individual unit owners.
WHO CAN CREATE A STANDARD UNIT DESCRIPTION?
In newer condominiums, documents listing the standard finishes planned for each unit are often available from the developer. In older condominium complexes or newer complexes which lack such developer documents, the condominium corporation may adopt a list of standard finishes either by amending their by-laws or by passing an ordinary or Board resolution after consultation with their legal professionals.
However, how do you determine what is standard in units with varying upgrades? How do you determine what was standard 30 years after initial construction? Industry professionals, such as Keller Engineering, are qualified to assist condominium corporations in creating lists of standard finishes.
WHAT DOES THE LIST TYPICALLY INCLUDE?
The professionally prepared SUD will quantify and assess the type and grade of the following:
- Internal doors and windows
- Closets, storage installations, and space dividers
- Flooring, wall coverings, and trim
- Lighting fixtures
- Water-related fixtures such as toilets and sinks
- Natural gas and heating devices
- Cooling, ventilation, and air exchangers
- Outlets, telecommunication technologies, and smoke detectors
- Kitchen, bathroom, and laundry plumbing, fixtures, controls, cabinets, and counter tops
Steps in completing a Standard Unit Description:
- Search through condominium records for a pre-existing list of standard unit finishes (Typically a schedule in the declaration).
- List each unique unit type found in the complex (for example: Units 105, 107, and 109 may be 3-bedroom, Units 106, 108, and 110 may be 2-bedroom).
- Prepare a list of representative units to be inspected by an assessor. A minimum of one of each unit type must be inspected. Ideally, the units to be inspected are owned by the original purchasers or have not undergone extensive renovation since the initial construction.
- Engage an assessor to complete the list, type and grade of standard finishes.
- The Board adopts the list of standard finishes prepared by the assessor by amending the by-laws or passing a resolution.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Keller Engineering is qualified to compile Standard Unit Description lists and would be pleased to submit a cost estimate for your building. For more information, or to request a cost estimate, please contact Andrée Ball at email@example.com.