Amenities are expensive

When people start looking to buy a condo, they are often impressed by the number of amenities that a condo corporation has, or will have. They are thrilled by the huge lobby, the games rooms, the Internet café, the swimming pool and spa, the mini-theatre and the roof-top gardens and BBQs.

They are not buying a tiny one bedroom unit; they are buying part of a luxury resort.

What they never understand is that all of these amenities cost money to run and and that sometime down the road, all the amenities will require expensive renovations.

The lobby
A massive hotel-size lobby has to be the most useless amenity of all. They are expensive to build, expensive to heat and expensive to clean. Worse of all, every 15 years or so, the board/owners feel that the lobby is looking outdated and therefore, to restore property values, it must be renovated.

Swimming pool & spa
An indoor swimming pool and hot tub are expensive to operate as they need to be kept open all year around and they need regular professional maintenance. Upgrades and renovations are expensive.

Roof-top gardens

Expensive to build and then very expensive to maintain. The strong winds on top of condo towers dry out the trees and flowers so they need a lot of watering. When the roof leaks, and sooner or later all flat roofs leak, gardens make it harder to find the source of the leaks.

Also, pools, spas and all their pipes and equipment tend to leak.

Fitness room
A fitness room is a must for most condo towers. Most likely, it is the one amenity that gets a lot of use.

A condo fitness room needs commercial quality fitness machines and they have to be professionally installed and maintained. The costs, though not cheap, are not prohibitive.

I was at an AGM at an older working-class condo where a candidate for the board spoke for his allowed two minutes on why he should be elected to the board. He bragged on how he saved the condo a lot of money when he bought a treadmill for the condo's fitness room at Costco. The owners must have been impressed because this fellow was elected.

I later asked my friend, who lived at that condo, how long did that treadmill last. He replied that it was broken within a month.

A few years down the road, some of the amenities may be closed. An indoor hot tub or swimming pool may leak. There were too many fights over the use of the basketball court or the amenity turned out to be a fad; something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, many amenities get closed because the condo can't afford to keep them open.

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