Amenities are expensive headaches
“People like to be able to say, ‘I live in a building with a pool and a gym.’”
—Eric Benaim

One of the biggest selling features of condominium living is the idea of buying into a "country resort" that has a huge list of exciting amenities.

The bigger the condo, the more lavish the amenities. If two or more condo corporations pool their resources and have shared facilities, then the size and number of amenities just gets bigger.

The ultimate amenities
Bragging rights get exepnsive for few amenities actually get much use and many are little more than fancy sales pitches.

Popular amentities
Depending on the number of residents in a condo, some amenities are popular during peak times. An outdoor roof-top pool will be very crowded on a hot August Saturday afternoon. Fitness Rooms may be busy in the early morning before people go to work and again in the early evenings.

A combined badminton and basketball court may be used by only two people playing badminton or a half-dozen men throwing hoops. The use of the court, usually limited to an hour at a time, may be booked a week or more in advance.

Indoor golf facilities often are out-of-order.

Other amenities may be little used. An indoor pool and a hot tub get some use while saunas, the billiards room, the table tennis room and theatre room may go unused for days.

In all condos, only a minority of owners regularly use most of the amenities. Think of it; how often would you use the party room? Once a year? How about a Guest Suite?

Renting the party room
At most condos renting the party room and guest room is far too much hassle. You are treated as if you are hosting a pickpocket  convention.

The amount of paperwork would make a communist bureaucrat proud. You must sign a multi-page legal contract, pay a fee and give the manager a damage deposit by personal cheque before you can book the room.

Before your event, the security guard takes a detailed inventory and checks off every item. You must sign the checklist.

During your event, a uniformed guard may sit outside the party room making it feel like the birthday party is being held in the West Metro Detention Centre.

Then like Cinderella all your guests and you must leave by the pre-set time.

Finally there is the post- inspection, a very annoying experience, where the guard and you walk around the room to insure that no one stained the chesterfield, broke the dishwasher or stole the garbage can.

Worse, some condos refuse to allow the Party Room to be booked on Halloween, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Years Eve.

Guest suites
Renting a guest suite for a friend is even worse as during the post-visit inspection, the guard checks that your guest did not steal the mattress, the TV set, a wash cloth, a pillow or one of the four coat hangers.

It reminds me of the scene in the Marx Brothers movie "The Cocoanuts" where Groucho the hotel owner picks up Chico's and Harpo's luggage and says: "Hey, hey! You know that suitcase is empty?" Chico: "That's all right. We fill it up before we leave."

If your condo operates like this then I suggest that you hold your party at a local restaurant, or sports bar, and have your guests stay at a nearby hotel. You may pay a bit more but you won't feel like your living in a jail.

The costs

The reality is that amenities are not “freebies” but burdens that constantly deteriorate and are the responsibility of the homeowners to maintain.

An old party room feels dreary and needs to be renovated every ten years or so. Outdoor barbecues need daily cleaning and regular replacements. The costs of maintaining an underground parking garage are staggering.

In response to the high costs, little use and potential liabilities, some older condos are closing their swimming pools and hot tubs.

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