Condominiums are a great investment for single people living alone, young couples starting out and the elderly needing assistance. Condo ownership is a less costly alternative to single family homes from the sales price, maintenance and improvements. The best way to protect your investment in a condominium is to know how old the complex is and when the systems and structural components were repaired or replaced. If the building is more than 30 years old it’s likely that the windows have been replaced once or need to be upgraded, not just replaced, but upgraded. Who is responsible to replace your condo windows depends on your HOA, however for most HOAs, the homeowner is responsible unless there are special circumstances.
Don’t Replace, Upgrade
While it’s not uncommon for 50-year-old condominium buildings to have original windows, which if screens and sealant have been maintained may be adequate. The reality however is that window technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past ten years. Windows today offer better energy efficiency, ease of use, sound reduction, lower maintenance and more safety and security.
Upgraded condo building windows is about quality of life. Older buildings with original windows are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Most original windows in these buildings were likely made from aluminum or vinyl with clear single or dual pane glass. The design, materials and manufacturing techniques pre-dated the advent of superior insulating materials, thermal breaks or high-performance glass with low emissivity (low-e) and inert gas fillings.
If the building you manage as a Homeowner Association (HOA) or live in as an owner, is more than 30 years old, it’s likely that the windows need to be upgraded, not just replaced, upgraded.
Whether your building Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) designate windows as the unit owner’s responsibility or the HOAs, can make it challenging for upgrading windows because ideally, you’ll want to use your association’s buying power and choose from the best looking and best quality replacement windows. Undoubtedly, an upgraded window won’t match the building’s original aluminum or vinyl window styles.
Whether your CC&Rs make window upgrades the responsibility of the owner, or if your HOA includes building wide window upgrade capital projects, you’d be wise to make windows a building wide project in order to benefit from the changing window technologies.
Window Upgrade Building Wide Effort
Associations can organize an information campaign to educate owners about the advantages of upgrading windows throughout the entire building. There are window dealers who specialize in multi-family installations that can propose the right window replacement solution for your building. Additionally, older buildings would benefit from an engineering study to identify any possible structural issues that can be addressed as part of the window upgrade project. The HOA draws up the window and installation design specifications, selects a suitable window and contracts with an experienced installer then, if each unit owner is responsible for window upgrades the Association can negotiate a reduced bulk rate price.
Individual unit owners could be given a proposal for their own condo that includes the price if only their unit is upgraded, a second price option if five units are upgraded at the same time and a third price option if 10 units can be installed simultaneously. This pricing offer will help the HOA to achieve the building wide upgrade within a specified timeframe.
Not only will the condo owners enjoy the numerous benefits of upgraded windows, better energy efficiency, less outside noise, improved ventilation, easy tilt in windows for cleaning and so on. The owners and managers of the HOA have also succeeded in adding new life and vitality to the building as well as probably affecting the overall performance of the building’s heating, cooling and air filtration systems positively.
For the complete story about how one HOA in Elmhurst upgraded their windows in videos (parts 1 & 2), produced by Marvin, Woodland’s window partner.