July 5, 2023 - Blog Post

Differences between styles of Condominiums - Building vs Townhouses

As a Licensed Condominium Manager, often we manage a wide variety of condominiums, which can range from buildings to commercial, vacant land to industrial, and many more.  A “condo” is traditionally thought of as a building with multiple units, amenities and can be seen in the horizon, however there are many other types of condominiums that are often not thought of or realized to be condos.

A manager’s role will vary in some ways, depending on the type of condominium that they manage; however within all condominium corporations, there are some base processes and requirements that are consistent throughout all types, and they are all governed by the Condominium Act, Declaration, Rules & By-Laws.

The difference between a traditional condominium building vs. a townhouse condominium, is quite substantial in many ways and some managers prefer to manage one over the other or even a combination of both if they are doing portfolio management.

In a traditional building there are many components that you would need to manage, such as site staff (which could include cleaners, superintendents, security) and many contractors servicing a variety of building elements, such as HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Facility Maintenance, Elevators, Generators, Fire Safety Systems, Intercom Systems, Cameras and more. Typically, the items mentioned are not predominant on a day-to-day basis for townhouse condominiums.  There are always exceptions, as Condominium Declarations will absolutely vary and if one townhouse Condominium Corporation covers the roof, as an example, another may not.  It is all dependent on the unit boundaries.

In “building” style Condominiums, you typically have a lot more interaction with residents, as there is more visibility of people in the common areas, elevators, amenities and if there is an on-site management office, people frequently visit the manager.  In a townhouse community, there is less visibility of people and communication is handled generally by way of telephone calls, emails, or scheduled appointments.

The day-to-day demand of a building vs. a townhouse is significantly different, as there are so many items in a building that happen daily, from repairs and maintenance, emergency situations (such as plumbing leaks), malfunctioning of equipment, staffing issues and more, whereas with a townhouse community, you would not deal with the same volume of day-to-day concerns.

In a townhouse community the daily operations would typically involve landscaping, snow removal (depending on the type of condo such as standard vs. common element), rule enforcement, pet issues and parking.  You would also work on projects that are reflected in the Reserve Fund Study such as roofing, driveways, windows and again, this all varies depending on how the Declaration is written and the unit boundaries.  Project work is also predominant in a “building” styled condominium.

Having been in this industry over 21 years, I would say that I have found the townhouse style management to be less intensive on a day-to-day basis, however, project oriented.  I would view the “building” management to be much more intensive with a large volume of multi-tasking and day-to-day concerns, and a faster paced dynamic.   Within any type of Condominium, you will have cross over of similarities when it comes to things such as budgets, audits, reserve fund studies, CAO compliances, Annual General meetings, board meetings and more.

The nice thing about our industry is there is variety and options of choosing a style of Condominium that is best suited to a manager’s skill set, however all Condominiums require the same level of education, experience and oversight, to have a well managed Condominium.

Jessica Laker, Laker Property Management Ltd.

Tag(s): CCI Huronia || Community || Condo Education || Condominium Act || condominium communities || Condominium Managers