Tips to evaluate a condo? For Family, Save Money and Quality

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This is more applicable for working professionals in the Klang Valley. For couples getting married soon or those with young kids, let me remind you that the property you will love need not only be a landed one. These days, condominiums are becoming a very good choice due to competitions. Every developer is trying to outdo one another with ever more facilities, more modern designs as well as touting the connectivity part, especially with more LRT and MRT stations completed or in progress. In terms of the essentials of a good condo, let me share what I personally like below. I was brought to a construction site recently and even though it was still dirty and dusty and coupled with the hot sun, I think the development impressed me enough and I will use some of the points I learnt during my visit for this article. It was a development which is 200 feet above sea level hilltop and because of this, it was windy and the project enjoys a 360 unblocked panoramic view of Puchong. Today, we just concentrate on the actual show unit itself. Let us walk slowly from the guard house into the unit itself.

What’s the density? – It is easy to get carried away with just the number of units. However, please find out what’s the actual size of the development as well. For example, 500 units within a 5-acre land is definitely inferior compared to a development of 1,000 units within a 23-acre land.

The ENTRANCE – For any typical condo, the entrance is usually a one lane in and one lane out. Applicable even for many of those condos nearby KLCC. If the entrance could accommodate two lanes in and two lanes out, now that would be even better!  This is very useful during the peak hours in the morning. It would be even better if the driveway was built using classy paver instead of the usual normal premix tar road. Advantage of paver? It’s more durable, can be repaired easily, longer lifespan and hey it looks better too.

Security (Main) – The guardhouse should be big enough to accommodate a couple of guards. (Seriously, some are so small that it could accommodate just one guard inside and one guard outside. Pity the one standing outside…. By the way, if there are only TWO security guards and one falls sick, all the best to your development for that day.

Security (Tiers) – The more security tiers, the better lah. It costs more for the developers so that you need to spend less on them.  Good security additions include card access inside lift, digital entrance locks, CCTVs, panic buttons in the car park and even a built-in alarm for the unit. (Older developments would not have because it was really too expensive then but technology is now by far cheaper than a few years ago)

Modern outlook – It’s good to have a modern looking building. Usage of glass, would be good. Usually, the more means the better because lights could go through and the building feels ‘spacious’ too. Colour combinations? Easy colours are preferable to something too striking for example. Thus far, my condo choices are usually pretty common and ‘easy to accept’ colours. Haha.

Visitors lobby – This is quite important. We do not wish to walk all the way to the guard house to bring our friends and we also do not want the guard to release just any stranger into the development, right? Plus, we also want our friends to have a place to sit down and wait for us too. Something like a resort-styled lobby would be a great plus.

Lift(s) – How many lifts are there to serve the whole block? Usually 2 lifts per 150 units would be considered pretty standard for a condo project. If there are 4 lifts servicing 300 units, then that would be considered good. What if there are 4 lifts for 200 units? Then, that’s great. A good brand? Schindler lifts. Anyway, when we are in the lift, we are usually able to assess ourselves whether the lift is good or not; quiet, fast and well designed.

Ventilation – When we walk along the corridor, there should be sufficient space for the breeze to come through. Needless to say this usually meant that the whole development is not too cramped and it’s best for developments with a few blocks to be separated from one another. Some condos are designed with semi-d or bungalow concept and this meant that it’s more windy.

Well-lighted corridors? – This is beyond just well lit. There should be some space in between the units so that the sunlight could come through. Dark corridors are usually because the developers were maximising the space available and building as many units as possible for every floor. Again, if the design follows that of semi-d or a bungalow concept, then more natural lights could shine through. (Condos should not have dark corridors yeah….)

Main Door – What is the height of the main door? 8 feet should be the usual for a condo. When you open the door, it should feel sturdy. If somehow it feels light or flimsy, something must be wrong with the developer. Try asking your friend to stand inside and you talk to him from outside the door. It should provide sufficient noise blocking.

Ceiling – What is the ceiling height? 11 feet would be a good height. Use the main door as a measurement point. A good condo should provide this so that the whole unit look spacious. Please do note that sometimes, the show gallery’s ceiling height is not the actual height that you will be getting.

Wall finishing – Does it feel smooth as you run your hand on it? The smoother the finishing the more attention has been given into completing the wall. Usually, this meant extra man-hours.

Thoughtful savings – Not just money but also renovation time too. When a condo comes with plaster ceiling finishing for the living room, all bedrooms and bathrooms, that is already savings of over a thousand ringgit, depending on whether you are getting a amateur or a professional to do it for you if the condo you are buying does not include it.

Floor Tiles (Living room) . These days, developers are usually giving 2 ft x 2 ft tiles. Just make sure you either like or neutral about the colour of the tiles because if you want to change all the tiles in your home, it can easily cost you RM20 per sq ft.  Note –  There is no need to knock on the tiles yet. You only need to knock softly on every tile to check for hollowness after you get the keys to your unit.

Wooden flooring in the room? – For my current condo, all my rooms are using wooden flooring. I think it’s more comfortable for the room. Aesthetically appealing too. I would not suddenly feel a chill in the morning when I step down from my bed after a whole night of switching on the air-con.

Floor tiles (bathroom) – Tiles in the bathroom should not be the same one as that in the living room. It should be the ‘less-slippery’ type. Feel it to understand what I meant. It would be great to visit some tile shops to understand more. Continuous learning is fun.

Spacious living room – Ok, this is a personal preference ok. I like a spacious living room and as you know, with the limitation of space, it is either bigger living room or bigger rooms yeah. I like it when I step into the condo and feel that it’s spacious. As for the rooms, refer below.

Functional bedrooms – Rooms should be big enough to accommodate beds, cabinets comfortably. If there are some corners which could not be easily used, ask to see the show unit to get some ideas. Windows must be huge, well designed; sturdy and tinted too. I do not need a huge bedroom as I am not inside it most of the time.

Fixtures and Finishings – There are some condos which give you ‘bad quality’ fixtures and finishings and tell you that most owners would change it to their preference anyway. Let me tell you now, it’s NOT TRUE. If you give me quality fixtures, why would I change them? (Especially after paying hundreds of thousands of ringgit?)  Look at the BRAND that they give, open your smartphone and immediately look for the price. If the brand could not even be found, well…..

We will talk more about the facilities as well as the neighbourhood in the next article but briefly, I think for families, it is always good to buy a condo with a very good and conducive environment. The developer should do a good video as well so that we know what we get. We do not want a condo where when we drive in, the driveways are narrow, the drive up to the car park is narrow and dark, the guard house is more like a hut etc. In fact, the facilities and amenities must be good for family time. Spacious swimming pools and dedicated kids pool, jacuzzi area, well-thought landscaping with lots of space to run about, really nice views even from the car park itself as well as lots of community spaces and even the BBQ party area. There are a lot of things to talk about for the neighbourhood too. You can also drop by the few units that I viewed too. New show unit is available for viewing. Just Waze to ‘IOI Galleria @ Puchong’. Sales Gallery & Show Unit open daily 10am – 5pm. Contact: +603 8060 8833.  Happy selecting the best one for your family in view of the $$$ too.

written on 14 Dec 2017 (with assistance from an actual show unit I viewed recently)

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