Condo Renovations & Improvements: 3 Things to Know Before You Begin

By Morgan Statt

Condo improvement projects and renovations are exciting endeavors that can have a major positive impact for years to come. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your living space or you’re looking to add value to your condo for a potential sale, these projects shouldn’t be taken lightly or without proper planning. Before you begin any projects that require a substantial investment up front, consider these three things.

1. Know the Rules.

When you purchase a condo, you’re required to join your community’s condo association and pay annual or monthly fees for upkeep of shared spaces. With this nature of community in mind, you must also be aware of the rules in place for any remodels and home improvement projects. These requirements are in place to prevent condo owners from attempting DIY projects they are not capable of doing or hiring contractors who may cause long-term problems with subpar work either to the owner’s or neighbor’s property.

Before beginning any renovations, get in touch with your association to determine what steps are required of you before you begin. For example, some may require you to submit an architectural change form detailing the scope of work and the credentials of the contractor you plan to hire.

Condo associations can issue heavy fines or take legal action if you disregard their requirements. Follow the rules right from the start to save you a major headache down the road.

2. Consider the materials you’re using (or disrupting).

We like to think that our living spaces were built and designed with our safety in mind. But as many of us know, construction materials have a history of being detrimental to our health. Especially for residences built before 1978, lead-based paint remains a concern due to its link to developmental problems and kidney damage among other issues. As the only known cause of the aggressive cancer mesothelioma, asbestos is another prominent concern; its use in building and construction materials has even spurred on many legal claims for those exposed.

Before beginning your renovation project, consider the materials you may be using or that you may be disrupting in the space you’re tackling. Asbestos is considered a major health risk only if it is disturbed; construction on any existing condo infrastructure could lead to this disturbance.

Other material ingredients to be aware of before remodeling include but are not limited to:

  • Formaldehyde (found in adhesives, plywood, and certain insulation)
  • PVC (found in pipes, window fabrication, and flooring)
  • VOCs (found in solvents, paints, and protective coatings)

3. Know When to Hire a Professional 

Perhaps the most important thing to consider before beginning condo renovations is whether or not you should hire a professional. Since these projects often require a substantial amount of monetary investment, it’s wise to think twice before tackling something on your own. In addition to adhering to your condo association’s rules, make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Do you have the knowledge and skills for the project?

    • It can be costly and a major inconvenience if you accidentally mess up on a home improvement project. Paying a professional is likely the safest route to take if you don’t have the skills or the knowledge.
  • Is it safe for you to tackle the project?

    • Major home improvement projects can also have dangerous consequences if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken. For example, if you’re not familiar with electrical work, don’t attempt any electrical projects since the job could put your life at risk.
  • Do you have the time to complete the project?

    • Home improvement projects aren’t just a financial undertaking; they can also take a lengthy amount of time to complete. Before you commit to doing anything yourself, make sure your schedule can accommodate the work.


Whether it’s a large or small project, home improvement work is always an exciting undertaking. By keeping the above three things in mind before you begin, you’ll have a solid idea of what’s involved in order to decide on the best course of action.

Morgan Statt is a health & safety investigator and writer who focuses her efforts on providing consumer education for a number of topics. She is particularly interested in product safety and trending health news that can impact individuals from all walks of life. In her free time, she enjoys running, driving with the windows rolled down, and finding the next great coffee shop. Follow her on Twitter @morganstatt.  

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