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Concrete or Wood Condo?


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#1 Baro

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 01:35 PM

I've been playing with the idea of actually moving from renting to buying and I know a house is wayyy beyond the means of most in my generation, but a condo might be within reach with some hard work and saving.

The problem I'm facing now while looking at condo prices is: wood vs concrete. Obviously a concrete building is better, but units in concrete buildings seem way more expensive. 300k gets you 400-500 sqft in a concrete building, but can get you a nice 2bdrm 1000+ sqft unit in an older wooden building.

What are the pro's and cons? I'd hate to buy in an older wooden building to find out 5 years later the whole thing needs to be re-built or something awful.
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#2 sebberry

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 01:44 PM

My concern with older concrete buildings is earthquake safety, but then again I doubt anything will survive our impending megathrust.

Concrete buildings are probably lower maintenance, but because of their cost to construct will be more expensive, especially the newer ones. I think most of the condos in town are wood frame simply because most of them were built in the 70's and 80's and building up wasn't as much of a concern.

Here's a concrete condo at the "Lord Elford"
2bed, 2 bath 1,100 sq-ft at $325000
http://www.realtor.c...idKey=313391939


If you don't mind feeling like you're living in your neighbour's suite then living in a wood building will be cheaper and there's a lot more of them.

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#3 G-Man

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 02:19 PM

I also think it depends on the wood building you are talking about. Having lived in a few rentals and owned in a nice wood framed building I think that there are good ones out there and you will never regret having more space.

Make sure you do an evening viewing with the realestate agent (you should always have three IMO at the very least. At least one daytime, one evening and a mix of workday and weekend. Just so you can see the place at different times. Hear the different sounds note the different people coming and going).

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#4 Baro

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 04:33 PM

Thanks for the info guys, I'm a long way off from being able to afford a down payment on a condo (would be 60k for a 300k unit) but it's good to know wood doesn't = garbage.
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#5 MarkoJ

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 06:08 PM

I don't know about older wood framed buildings but most newer ones have 4'' of concrete in-between the floors which likely helps to reduce noise transfer a bit; however; on a recent showing of a 2007 wood framed building my client and I clearly heard footsteps in the above unit. Some wood buildings are better than others - depends on the efforts of the builder to reduce noise transfer.

I live on one of the lower floors at the834 facing Johnson Street and when I compare the noise transfer between my unit and something like the Zen (facing Fort Street) the difference is really night and day. Also, I have yet to hear my neighbors - solid build or quiet neighbors? Who knows.

Old concrete buildings can also have major issues just like wood framed buildings. For example, there are two 1980s concrete buildings right now in Vic West undergoing major repairs for something called spalling.

As far as sq.ft. newer units typically have better layouts and bigger windows. I would prefer to live in 800 sq.ft. of new design versus 1,000 sq.ft. of update older condo design. That being said, 800 sq.ft. of new is typically more money than 1,000 sq.ft. of old.

"300k gets you 400-500 sqft in a concrete building, but can get you a nice 2bdrm 1000+ sqft unit in an older wooden building."

Concrete pre-sales are also something to consider. Right now, for example, you can buy a one bedroom at the Promontory with parking, heatpump, 8'11'' ceilings, decent views, for about $245,000 (including incentives and HST). It is not huge at 519 sq.ft; however, the layout is decent. Other pre-sale options include the Mondrian and hopefully the Era soon! I think at the Mondrian they have corner 1 bed + den units (714 sq/ft) starting in the low $300,000's.

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#6 Bingo

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 06:08 PM

There are four 1200+ sq. ft. condos for sale in Spencer Castle. They range in price from $330,00 - $370,000, and they are all concrete, built on solid rock.

#7 Baro

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 07:37 AM

I've been looking at the mls site and searching around, and it's stupid to even be looking now as I shouldn't even look till I have another 20-30 grand saved up, but I'll be looking for a nice open-plan 2 or 1.5 bedroom place.

My ideal place has a modest bedroom with good closet space, and a .5 bedroom suitable for an office. Kitchen as part or at least very open to the main living space. 1 bathroom is fine. And I guess it would help to exist within a building that is not currently in the process of falling down.

Good lord the MLS site is awful. Great at finding listings, but the pictures are all like 64x64 thumbnail size. Some even have the blueprints, nicely shrunk down and unreadable. Is this just awful awful outdated web design standards (lets save bandwidth! small pictures!) or some purposeful obstacle to encourage people to contact a REALTOR (registered trade mark!!!) ?
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#8 Mike K.

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:13 AM

Remember that you can also knock down walls and have your way with a unit if it doesn't quite fill your boots. Turning a closeted living room into an open concept living/kitchen design is easy to do if you ensure there are no load bearing walls in your way.

Just something to think about/ask about when looking at units.

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#9 Mike K.

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:14 AM

There are four 1200+ sq. ft. condos for sale in Spencer Castle. They range in price from $330,00 - $370,000, and they are all concrete, built on solid rock.


Wow, what's with the sudden exodus?

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#10 sebberry

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:01 AM

Good lord the MLS site is awful. Great at finding listings, but the pictures are all like 64x64 thumbnail size. Some even have the blueprints, nicely shrunk down and unreadable. Is this just awful awful outdated web design standards (lets save bandwidth! small pictures!) or some purposeful obstacle to encourage people to contact a REALTOR (registered trade mark!!!) ?



1) On the main listing page, click one of the thumbnail pics. It will open a larger version in a new tab (or window or whatever you have the browser set up to do. The file name will read something like this:
http://images.realto...140425896800000
2) Click on the "More" button. This will open a new window with all the pathetically small photos.

3) Right click on one of the small pics that you want to see larter, then left click properties.

You'll see the location and file name for the image, sort of like this:
http://images.realto...140425897430000
4) The xxxxxx_x.jpg is the mls listing number. Copy this file name (xxxxxx_x.jpg) and paste it into the URL of the photo that opened up in step 1.

It needs to be pasted in the right spot: (bolded)
http://images.realto.../8/xxxxxx_x.jpg

That should do it.

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#11 Baro

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:06 AM

That is INSANE. Why are they not by default bigger or clickable links?
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#12 sebberry

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:12 AM

Don't know. Once you get the hang of it it just takes a couple of seconds to copy/paste and get your big pics. Took me a while to decode the puzzle but now that I know I can share it with you :)


Mike, I wouldn't read into the mass exodus from the castle. We only have 27 units here and last summer/fall had 4 units for sale at once.

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#13 MarkoJ

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 11:00 AM

Thanks Sebberry, I was just about to start a thread called "tips on using realtor.ca" and start off with exact your explanation.

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#14 sebberry

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 11:05 AM

Feel free to use it :)

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#15 buyer11

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 10:43 AM

Of course concrete is immensely superior.

 

Thick concrete (minimum 4-6 inches thick - maybe thicker) on floors, ceilings & walls will create an effective fire wall and soundproofing.  As an experienced renter, I've been in a building where one of the rooms was a virtual fireball inferno (and I could see smoke coming from many open doors & windows from my 18th floor balcony), and it did not spread to any of the other rooms because of the concrete (although it did burn the door down to hallway and melted the door seals in the elevator across the hall).  Similarly in this building, your neighbour could crank up his stereo to high volume , and you wouldn't hear it if you were beside him or under him, (unless you were in the hallway).

 

Conversely, I've lived in a very high end apartment building that had walls so thin, that I could hear my neighbour reading (turning of pages) from my bedroom.

 

There are very few buildings in Victoria that have both concrete walls and floors & ceilings, (3 decent ones I think), and I'm not talking about  a light skim-coat of concrete that seems to be required by law as a fire deterent.  The unfortuate truth is that because people are willing to pay top dollar for cheaply constructed condos in Victoria, there is little incentive for building quality structures that will increase the cost to the builder.

 

I'm told that Vancouver had many all concrete condos. 

 

Cheers



#16 Sparky

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:30 PM

Welcome to vibrantvictoria buyer11.

#17 MarkoJ

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 12:59 PM

Of course concrete is immensely superior.

 

Thick concrete (minimum 4-6 inches thick - maybe thicker) on floors, ceilings & walls will create an effective fire wall and soundproofing.  As an experienced renter, I've been in a building where one of the rooms was a virtual fireball inferno (and I could see smoke coming from many open doors & windows from my 18th floor balcony), and it did not spread to any of the other rooms because of the concrete (although it did burn the door down to hallway and melted the door seals in the elevator across the hall).  Similarly in this building, your neighbour could crank up his stereo to high volume , and you wouldn't hear it if you were beside him or under him, (unless you were in the hallway).

 

Conversely, I've lived in a very high end apartment building that had walls so thin, that I could hear my neighbour reading (turning of pages) from my bedroom.

 

There are very few buildings in Victoria that have both concrete walls and floors & ceilings, (3 decent ones I think), and I'm not talking about  a light skim-coat of concrete that seems to be required by law as a fire deterent.  The unfortuate truth is that because people are willing to pay top dollar for cheaply constructed condos in Victoria, there is little incentive for building quality structures that will increase the cost to the builder.

 

I'm told that Vancouver had many all concrete condos. 

 

Cheers

 

I wasn't aware that Victoria had buildings with concrete walls (other than structural)?  Everything I've seen in the last 10 years has been steel stud.


Edited by MarkoJ, 30 June 2015 - 02:52 PM.

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Looking at Condo Pre-Sales in Victoria? Save Thousands!

 

 


#18 Mike K.

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 01:11 PM

That's how commie blocks were constructed. Europeans often wondered why American movies depicted people punching through walls -- they always thought it was some weird superhuman show of force by Hollywood actors, not realizing of course that our walls can be paper thin.


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