Guest Post: What You Need to Know About Window Replacement in Condos

Window replacement in condos is not as simple as you would like it to be. It can be a veritable minefield of red tape. The challenge in undertaking any kind of renovation project in a condo lies in who is responsible for its funding.

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Before any work can begin, you need to read your contract and bylaws carefully to ascertain what kind of jurisdiction windows falls under.

There are three parts to a condominium:

  • common elements,
  • limited common elements,
  • and units.

In the case of high rise condos, windows are often common elements. In townhouse developments they may instead belong to the unit.

If the windows are classed as common elements, or limited common elements, the condominium board needs to approve a decision to replace windows. In that case, they will seek the agreement of all the owners before going ahead with the project. They will then request quotations to present to the owners. The condo management may pay part of the costs of the project. Unfortunately, since everyone — or at least the majority — needs to be in favor, everyone will be forced into getting new windows.

In cases where windows are classed as belonging to the unit, owners are free to replace their windows whenever they like. They may still need to adhere to certain restrictions, though. There will often be clauses in the contract which require the owner to replace windows with something that matches the existing style and color. The implication of such limitations is that if, for instance, retrofit windows are installed, you will not be able to install full-frame windows to replace them. You will probably need to get final approval from the board before going ahead with the installation.

Homeowners in high rise condos may have the additional problem that their choices of installers may be limited. It’s possible that some residential installers won’t work in taller buildings, in which case you may need to contract a commercial window installer.

While it may please some homeowners to have the extra autonomy of having their windows classed as unit elements, there is one major benefit if they are common elements. If the condo board decides to have the windows on multiple units replaced, they can usually negotiate a discounted bulk purchase deal on materials and installation. That means that the homeowner could potentially have more affordable condo windows than if they were solely responsible.

Members of homeowners’ associations have a few things to consider before starting a window replacement program. The first consideration is why windows need to be replaced, whether it is aesthetics, better thermal insulation, fixing drafts or leaks, and so forth. The cost and durability of materials need to be taken into account — will vinyl or aluminum be better over the expected life? It’s also important to note which building codes replacement windows need to adhere to. Finally, the amount of disruption to residents should be assessed. Since work crews need to work in the personal spaces of residents, installers need to be sensitive to that fact, and the duration of the intrusion needs to be communicated effectively.

About the Author:

Alex works at Apex Window Werks, who does house and commercial window glass replacement of high quality. They replace single and double-pane units, tempered glass and custom-shaped glass. If your window is broken, fogged or cracked, get in touch with AWW today and get free estimation.


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