You love your home, but you’re starting to outgrow it. An obvious possibility is to expand on it – but what if your home is a condominium?
The answer would still be the same – you could still add on to it by purchasing the adjacent unit and combining them to create a much larger area.
Condo units aren’t exactly known for their expansive square footage, for the most part. But that doesn’t mean you have to forego the dream of added space. If your budget allows for it – and so does the condo corporation – you can realistically combine two smaller units into one, much larger and spacious condo.
In fact, this practice has become more popular over the years. In New York City, for instance, approximately 6% of condos are now combinations, compared to 1.5% four years ago. Many condo residents prefer to stay put in their location instead of move away from their favorite local eateries, shops, theaters, and friends. The most common combinations are those that fuse two-bedroom units with studios, as well as adding a convertible studio to a two-bedroom unit.
The Politics Behind Fusing Two Units Together
Unless the condominium corporation’s rules and regulations specifically prohibit combining any units, an owner can legally combine two individual condo units into one, single new unit.
However, this will require an amendment to the association’s declaration.
As an owner of two adjoining units, you’ll most likely need to submit a written application to the condo’s board of managers to request this amendment to the condominium instruments. The amendment would spell out things such as the combined percentage of ownership for the new, larger unit (which is basically the sum of the percentage of ownership for the two individual units), and the new unit number.
The amendment also must include a revised survey plat that shows the combined unit’s boundaries. An approved amendment only needs to be signed by you, the owner of the combined units, rather than requiring approval by a specified percentage of all the owners of the building.
Keep in mind that once it’s all done, you’ll still have two assessments, two utility bills, two real estate tax bills, two condo fees, and quite possibly two mortgages. You’ll probably wind up with two mailboxes, too. This is because the two units are still considered to be separate, legally speaking. The only change in title will be when you buy the second unit, since title will then go into your name when settlement comes about.
Making the Combination Work
Obviously, combining condo units is a lot easier while the building is still under construction. There are more obstacles to overcome when the building is already complete and assumed.
There could be many mechanical or structural constraints to have to deal with and overcome, for starters. It can be a real challenge to combine two units when you’re dealing with two different mechanical systems.
For instance, two kitchens might not be conducive to smooth and functional flow between two units. And in old buildings where kitchens are backed up against each other and use the same plumbing, it can be nearly impossible to split this plumbing to make one larger kitchen.
The key is getting yourself a contractor that’s experienced with this type of unique construction. He or she will analyze the configuration of both units and tell you if a fusion between the two is possible, and if it will result in an attractive, functional unit.
You’ve got to make sure that your plan is air-tight so that the final product is well-configured. Any mismatched flooring, fixtures, wood tones, and other finishes will just devalue the new unit and make it a lot more difficult to recoup the investment when it comes time to sell.
As with any other type of real estate undertaking, it’s important to consult with an experienced real estate agent when you’re planning a move like this. You’ll get expert advice on whether or not such an endeavor is feasible, and if you’ll be able to recoup the cost associated with it as far as property value is concerned. Combining two condo units into one is a time-consuming and potentially complex project, but if done properly, you could end up with a unit that fits your tastes and lifestyle, and still holds its value.