What type of maintenance expenses needs to be budgeted for a townhouse with strata fee?
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|Fri, 07-08-2011 - 1:33pm|
I live in a townhouse. We bought it from floor plans six years ago. The original cost was $265,000 (in BC, Canada, house prices are inflated, as I know that for this same money we could own a big-detached house in Eastern Canada...).
Anyways, we re-financed it three years ago and use some equity, so now we own the bank $315,000. The house sells between $375,000 and $400,000.
We pay $250/month for strata fees. These fees include all the garden, fences, outside walls, roof, windows and what's considered "common property" maintenance. There is no choice of not-paying this fee apparently. It also includes the garbage and water service and outside lighting. This is NOT a luxury complex, most neighbours are immigrants like us, retired people or young couples with kids. It's a nice place but the maintenance has been really bad in service...and there seems not being anyone out there in charge. There is a strata council (made up neighbours) but they sub-contract a strata management service who does all the contracts and pays all the bills.
We have a few issues with the constructor that were never solved (our fault, because we were too new to the country and thought everybody would be perfect. For us, this was a perfect house, until we started noticing things such as the floor tiles not being that good, the washroom's floors coming out, etc.). These are small things to repair, but they are there. Apparently they are not covered by the strata because they are internal and we should have noticed and complained to the builder/seller six years ago)...
My question is: if all the exterior is "covered" by the strata fees we pay monthly, what else we need to budget for? When do you schedule a check up to see whether all the things are working properly? Is there any recommended timetable? What issues do I have to pay attention to?
For us this is all new. My husband is NOT a handy-man person. I clear all the drains and work in the garden or do minor repairs if needed, such when the dog eat the all (don't laugh!). He is always in his own world and doesn't care or know about house maintenance...he seems to think that the house will stay forever as it is today and everything will be taken care off magically.
I am the one who has more concerns, because I know we cannot sell or move anywhere for a big while and we may need to live here for at least 10 more years or so, unless a big thing changes in our lives. In 10 years I'll be 55 and DH will be 61, so at that time, my plan is to sell and buy a small apartment as my children won't be here anymore. That will reduce our mortgage because the house may have some equity we can use by then, and our unsecured debts will be paid off (I hope).
So, what type of budget should I have for this and what things should I pay attention to? Everything is new now: only the carpets look a bit old because I have children and pets. The washroom floors are covered by a plastic thing that simulates tiles and is coming out in the borders, but I assume changing that is not that expensive either...so, what else? And I apologize for my ignorance in this subject...:(