Pick your ﬂoor
“Elevators, when they work, are the
most efficient mode of transportation. When they don’t work, they are
potentially a disaster. I would never live above the 10th floor in a
—Pierre Filion, Urban planning professor, University of Waterloo
Should be a no-brainier. The higher the floor, the higher the price so
buying a unit as high as you afford seems like a great idea. The views
can be awesome.
However, there are a few issues to keep in mind.
The last mile
In China, where residential condo units can soar up to the stars, The
Last Mile refers to the end of your long and frustrating commute home.
You get to your lobby and then you wait for an elevator so you can ride
the long Last Mile up to your apartment.
If you live on the top floors, every time you use an elevator, you are
wasting time. It is worse in rush hour or if your condo has too few
There are some new tall condos in Toronto that do not have enough
elevators. It can take a half hour to ride up to a unit and return to
the front lobby. As a response, fast food deliverymen will not take
orders up to the units but insist that the residents meet them in the
Elevators are very reliable and we take them for granted. That can be a
I talked to a co-worker who sold his 50th story condo in City Place
after all the
elevators went out of service due to huge water leaks that flooded the
elevator pits. This happened every year, for three years in a row.
Then there are the day-to-day hassles such as elevators put on service
for the cleaners or for regular maintenance and when residents move in
and/or move out. Sometimes they breakdown.
Try carrying up your case of beer, bottled water, your groceries and
your dry cleaning up 20 to 50 stories using the stairs. It
will help if you bring a bottle of water and hire pack animals.
Don't even think of asking the delivery guy to bring a pizza up to your
I hope this doesn't happen on the day you need to move out. Two things
could happen. Your moving costs will be out of this world or the truck
and crew will abandon you, your queen size bed and your wine collection
up on your 30th floor unit.
One more thing—heart attacks
Here is a report from the CBC that states:
Researchers looked at the 911 records of more than 8,200 people in
Toronto who suffered cardiac arrest at a private residence.
|1st & 2nd
|3rd & above
|17th & above
|26th & above
Four per cent of the nearly six thousand of them who lived on
the first or second floor survived a cardiac arrest. Just 2.6% of
the 1844 people living on or above the third floor survived. A dismal
0.9% of those who resided above the 16th floor lived; for those who
lived above the 25th floor, the chance of survival was zero.
There was nothing otherwise different about the patients who reside on
higher floors. They weren't older or otherwise more prone to
heart attacks than those who live on the first two floors of a
high-rise. The only factor that could explain the difference in
survival is the extra time needed by paramedics to take the elevator
from the lobby to the floor where the patient resides. A previous study
by one of the authors found it takes an extra 90 seconds to reach
patients on the third floor or higher.
Even that tiny a difference in response time can have a huge effect on
survival. In the first ten minutes following cardiac arrest, each
one-minute delay defibrillating or shocking the heart decreases the
odds of success by seven to 10 per cent.
live on the top floor of a 60-unit condo building. The noise from the
roof deck is unbearable. I have lived in the city for several years and
have a reasonable expectation of noise levels. The noise was not
disclosed in the purchase and apparently nobody was on the roof when I
initially saw the unit. Is the condo responsible for helping to control
this noise issue, since the nuisance is originating from a common area?"
—Ask Mr. Condo
Newer buildings have amenities on the upper floors. I suggest that you
be leery of buying a unit under or right over some of these amenities.
If you are above a Party Room that has a terrace, you have noise issues
up to midnight. If you are underneath the swimming pool or hot tub, you
have an increased chance of major water leaks.
If you have a unit above the basketball court, theatre room or the Fitness Room you may suffer from constant noise.
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