Condominium developments are challenging and risky endeavors. There are numerous provincial and municipal regulatory hurdles to overcome and teams of professionals that need to work seamlessly together, let alone the continuous pressures to keep the projects on-time and on-budget. Any mistake or oversight can easily lead to frustrations and costly delays, and that’s why hiring surveyors with expertise and experience is crucial to the success of your new condo development project.
IBW Surveyors have completed hundred of condo projects of different types and can help you:
- Steer clear of trouble. IBW has deep experience from many challenging projects and can provide advice and help you prevent potential pitfalls early-on.
- Navigate through complexities. We will assign dedicated project managers to take care of your project from start to finish so you can find peace of mind.
- Speed up the registration process. IBW can stickhandle all professionals involved to push the condominium plan registration to the finish line.
General Project Flow for a Standard Condominium Project
General role for each member of the Condominium Team:
The Declarant – determines the kind of condominium they wish to register and will make the decision about what will be Unitized, what will form the Exclusive Use Portions (with the advice of the lawyer) and how the development will best work for the target audience. The developer will ultimately construct the buildings and determine the timelines for registration.
The Architect – prepares the architectural plans and must ensure the surveyor is advised of any changes to the building that affect the building outline, or any external unit limits or exclusive use portion limits. A final set of signed architectural plans must be forwarded to the surveyor to include in the registration package.
The Structural Engineer – prepares the structural plans. A final set of the signed structural plans must be forwarded to the surveyor to include in the registration package.
The Property Manager – sets the initial budget for the common expenses of the corporation and sets up the allotment of condominium fees per Unit. The property manager is often involved in the turnover meetings with the purchasers and also generally stays active after registration to remain as the Property Manager for the Corporation.
The Lawyer – will advise the declarant throughout the process, and will prepare the condominium declaration. Two fully executed copies of the declaration must be forwarded to the surveyor to include in the registration package.
The Surveyor – will advise the declarant throughout the process, and will prepare the condominium plans. Upon substantial completion of the construction, the surveyor will submit the condominium documents to the Registry Office for review. Upon approval from the Registry Office, the surveyor will submit the final registration package to the Registry Office for registration of the condominium.
Sales/marketing staff, civil engineers and real estate lawyers may also need to be involved with the condominium process.
Putting together a strong and experienced team can make a substantial difference to any condominium project, and can ultimately speed up the registration process and save money in the long run.
IBW Surveyors has a vast amount of experience with condominium projects and we understand the importance of working with the team to ensure the condominium is registered in a timely manner. We feel our role is to assist the declarant through the registration process as efficiently as possible.
Condominium developments in Ontario can take many forms and are being used more and more by developers every year. In order to benefit from this overview, it may be helpful to better understand some of the basic condominium terms:
UNIT: A parcel or property within a condominium project that can be bought and sold. Units are owned individually, separate from the common elements. Units may be residential properties, lockers, parking spaces, commercial properties or even areas for signage.
COMMON ELEMENTS: All areas with a condominium that are not Units. The common elements are owned collectively by all the Unit owners, who also share in the expenses to maintain the common elements.
EXCLUSIVE USE PORTIONS: One or more Units may be allotted a portion of the common elements for the exclusive use of that Unit or Units. An example would be a patio or balcony, that would be owned collectively by the corporation, but could only be used by the named Unit owners.
DECLARANT: The developer for the condominium project.
DECLARATION: The written document prepared by the condominium lawyers. The declaration is one part of the package that will be required to register a condominium corporation. The declaration can be roughly thought of as the “constitution” for the condominium corporation.
DESCRIPTION: The description is the second part of the documentation required to register a condominium. The description is made up of the condominium plans, the architectural plans and the structural plans.
PLANNING AUTHORITY: The Municipal staff member who has authority to sign the condominium plans. The planning department will generally review the condominium documents, but it could be the Clerk or even the mayor who is authorized to sign the documents on behalf of the Municipality. The condominium cannot be registered without Municipal approval.
TYPES OF CONDOMINIUMS
In 2001, we had a new Condominium Act take effect in Ontario and it opened the door to five different types of condominium developments:
THE STANDARD CONDOMINIUM
The Standard Condominium is what we typically think of when we think of condo living. It is a method of creating “Units” as parcels of land that can be bought and sold. The “Units” are typically that sort of “cube in space”, apartment style parcel of land. Along with the creation of Units, the standard condominium also creates Common Elements and Exclusive Use Portions of the common elements – all of which will be illustrated and defined on the condominium plans.
A standard condominium can also create townhouse style units which could include front and rear yards within the Unit, and allows for a lot of flexibility on the part of the developer to create an ownership model that works best for their target market audience.
THE PHASED CONDOMINIUM
If a condominium project is quite large, the developer may decide to develop the condominium in Phases. A phased condominium is a form of a standard condominium that will create the condominium corporation with the initial registration, and then build upon that original condominium with each new phase that is registered. So in the end, you will create only one condominium, but do it over two or more registrations, with each new registration simply building upon the previous condominium. Developers who wish to create a phased condominium will benefit from working with a surveyor and lawyer who are familiar with phasing.
THE COMMON ELEMENTS CONDOMINIUM
In a Common Elements Condominium, we do not have any Units – we only have common elements. Often rear lanes or common driveways will be converted into Common Element condominiums, with all lands that benefit from the lane or driveway, being tied to the Common Elements Condominium as Parcels of Tied Lands (POTL’s).
Common Elements Condominiums will always have lands that are outside the condominium lands (and usually adjacent to the condominium lands) that will be tied to the Common Elements Condominium through title documents that are enforceable and will forever tie the outside lands to the Common Elements Condominium. These are called Parcels of Tied Lands (POTL’s). For the example of a Lane, typically each of the adjoining properties that will benefit from the use of the lane, will become a POTL to the Common Elements Condominium.
Often developers will use a Common Elements condominium as opposed to a plan of subdivisions for townhouse developments and even more typical single family residential developments as it may allow for narrower roads that would be owned and maintained collectively by the adjoining property owners. We see a lot of creative use of Common Element Condominiums from astute developers. Municipalities often push developers to these sorts of developments as it reduces their costs for road and lane maintenance, while still maintaining the same tax base.
THE VACANT LAND CONDOMINIUM
The Vacant Land Condominium is pretty much just what it sounds like. The Units are actually just vacant land that can be bought and sold just like any other land. The Units are basically “lots” that can be developed by the individual owners. Each Unit is, however, also a condominium Unit that is under the authority of the condominium corporation. In a vacant land condominium, the declarant typically does not construct the houses, but just sells vacant land Units.
THE LEASEHOLD CONDOMINIUM
Developers who have a long term lease on a parcel of land (they do not own the lands, but just lease the lands) can create a Leasehold Condominium, where the Units may then be leased and the Condominium Corporation will maintain a leasehold interest in the common elements. Leasehold Condominiums are treated much the same way as standard condominiums in all other aspects.
Sometimes, after the registration of a condominium, there is a need to revise the condominium. This may involve amalgamating two or more Units into a single Unit, or adding Units, or adding or altering Exclusive Use Portions. IBW has been involved with both Section 107 and Section 109 amendments to registered condominiums. One common question we get is whether we can complete an Amendment of a Condominium, even if the original condo plan was not completed by IBW. Yes, we can. We will work very closely with both the Land Registry Office and the lawyer to work through this complex process. If you require an Amendment to a Condominium, we would be pleased to speak with you about the options available and to assist you through the process.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to hire a “condo” lawyer for condo registration?
What is the difference between a Standard condo and a Phased condo?
Do I need a Draft Plan of Condominium for my project?
Do the lands have to be converted to Land Titles Absolute before I can develop a condominium?
I own an apartment building with rental units. Can I convert this to a condominium?
We are on the Condo Board and wish to convert some of the Common Elements into Parking Units. Can this be done?
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