The importance of establishing “standard unit finish” in your condo

Dear Maria; It is our understanding that in 2020 several key updates come into effect that will change the definition of a standard insurable unit. Can you tell me how these changes affect us? And what we can do to prepare for this?

If you live in a condominium that is Professionally Managed by New Concept Management Inc., then you would have received information that the Provincial Government announced substantial changes to Alberta’s Condominium Property Act (CPA) and Condominium Property Regulations (CPR) on December 14, 2018. One of the changes that are being made is the mandatory requirement under the new regulations (Section 34-Application of initial bylaws to pre-existing corporations) that all condominium corporations in Alberta re-write their bylaws to comply with the new
Property Act of Alberta. The Government in essence, has given all condominiums 1 year from July 1, 2019, to have this completed. If you would like to learn more, you can read
February’s article by logging onto newconceptmanagement.com/blog. In speaking with Harold Weidman, of Reliance Asset Consulting, who is not only an expert in his field but also an expert on
this topic, has taken the initiative to help educate the condominium industry on key factors that each condominium board should take into consideration when updating their
bylaws. If you want to be compliant, here’s what Harold recommends.

a. Will you implement several classes of Standard Unit Finishes or just one (example would be staged bare land developments or mixed developments such as townhouses and apartments)?
b. Setting your Standard Unit Finishes as listed in the Regulations — must be reasonable, clear in definition and easily taken into
consideration in the costing process.
c. Owners at AGM can vote and either adopt or amend these Standards. Because owners are openly involved in this process, Boards must be prepared with extensive background information to mitigate problems and best defend their positions.
d. Determine what options are open to the Corporation to change existing standards
(dependent on their position in the annual update cycle).
e. Understand what options are available if the 2019 Insurance Renewal Date of the policy occurs before items a., b., c. and d. occur.

What if I don’t have a “Standard Insurable Unit”? If the board doesn’t have Standard Unit Finishes defined, they’re not alone. Unfortunately, most Boards do not have this in place, as it’s never been a requirement. The Standard Unit Finishes identified in our reports allow Boards to understand what is and more importantly what is NOT included. This is a common requirement for an appraisal firm to adhere to professional appraisal standards.

How does this regulation affect Non-Residential Standard Unit Finishes? There are no critical changes noted in the revised regulations and the interior finishes will continue to be the responsibility of the owner and/or tenants.

What about Bare Land Bylaws where Standard Finishes are limited to the shell of the Unit building interior? There continues to be varying opinions based on the definitions included in the bylaws on “shell finishes”. These require clarification for costing purposes given the varied termination for finishes inside the buildings and what, if any, items are described for interior structural components and rough-ins for heating, plumbing and electrical.

These are just a tidbit of the key factors to a standard unit finish and what steps you can take as a board. As a condominium manager with New Concept Management, I cannot stress the importance for each condominium corporation to have a clearly written bylaw that defines its standard unit finishes.

Thank you to Harold Weidman, for his helpful insight into this article and for his continued support to the condominium industry. Until next time …

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