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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
Box 47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002

Condo plans have a wealth of information


Condominium plans are easy to figure out for those who have an interest in their condo community. Just like a city map, though, one has to become familiar with it and know the terminology for the plan to be helpful, after which it will get you where you're going.


Start by fetching a full-sized copy of your condominium plan from the Land Titles Office downtown or buy it on-line; just search "SPIN2" to turn up the Alberta Land Titles web site. For a few dollars you will receive any number of pages, as one might show the building site, another the basement parking layouts, and yet another the suite dimensions. For a few extra dollars you can also buy the "condominium plan additional sheet", which will show any legal registrations that may have been filed against the corporation. This registration sheet will also show when Bylaws were changed and new Directors of the corporation were registered.


Lay the condo plan out on your dining table and get yourself a pen, a calculator, and a highlighter. Studying the site-plan page you may see that your building lies within a larger bare-land condo development. The development may have been built in stages and as each lot was split off it was further subdivided by "redivision" into building lots or suites within apartment buildings. If your condominium is in the inner city the site plan might show old house lots that your high-rise building unified into one large condominium building site.


Note that not all walls in condominium buildings are property boundary lines and that not all property lines will have walls when you actually stand in that location. Examples: your building's ground-floor common-property area is not subdivided on the plan, but may in fact be divided into a lobby, a laundry room, exercise and meeting rooms, hallways, and elevator shafts. Conversely a condominium parking garage might show many titled parking stalls and their property lines on the plan, but in fact there are few walls in the parking areas. Remember that condominium plans shows property divisions, not necessarily wall divisions.


Find your suite on the plan and mark the civic-address suite number on it. If you're about to buy the suite, ensure that the legal unit number for the suite matches the legal description of the property you're buying. Do the same check for the parking stall, if that is titled property, by carrying the plan into the garage and confirming the stall's location. Highlight your property on the plan for ease of reference. Note that the plan was surveyed and registered before civic addresses were assigned. Be careful not to confuse your property's civic address (the number on the door) with its legal unit number. There can easily be a legal unit 101 at the top of a condo tower, as well as a civic-address suite 101 on the ground floor. Confusion can be disastrous (like buying the wrong suite!) and precious few Realtors or condo property managers take this issue seriously enough.


On the plan's table of units, their unit factors, and their floor areas, highlight your property(s), and again write in the civic address of the suite. Titled parking stalls, by the way, have no civic address, and should be numbered as per the condo plan. It baffles me that some buildings number their stalls in another sequence; why create a second numbering system? Now write on your plan the conversion of your unit factor (1/10,000) to a percentage by moving the decimal left two spaces; i.e.: a unit factor of 236 becomes 2.36%. Your property is responsible for that percentage of annual revenue raised by condo contributions. Now convert the suite's metric size to square feet (square M x 10.764 = square feet), as we still seem to be more familiar with floor areas stated that way.


If you're reading the plan before buying a condo home, analyze the unit factor table. Unless the plan declares how unit factors were allocated, look for any unfairness in the allocations. Most often unit factors are allocated in approximate proportion to each suite's floor area, but a very few condo plans give more factors to upper floors. Titled parking stalls are usually given factors on a smaller non-floor-area basis, and titled storage lockers are often given just a single unit factor.


Some plans will carry a notation stating that homeowners are personally responsible for their suites' exterior windows and doors. Alberta's Condominium Property Act adopted in 2000 allowed a two-year window to amend condo plans this way, so this option is no longer available. Most common in older townhouse developments, but possible anywhere, this means you'd pay personally to replace double-paned windows that have lost their seal, or patio slider doors that are worn out. If there's no notation to this effect, then the development's exterior windows and doors are common property and condo contributions must save up for their maintenance and replacement.


Don't be intimidated by your condominium plan. Write and highlight interpretive notes all over it. After all, a replacement only costs a few dollars. Become familiar with your plan to better understand your condo community and your property's place and role within it.

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