Having the chance to work with many condo buyers in the Square One area, I have noted that the majority of condo shoppers have balconies on their “wishlist”. Buyers believe that balconies are an essential part of any condo because it allows them to be outside without having to leave their units. However, are balconies really that important? Or are they simply an overrated feature of a condo?
The Advantages Of Balconies
The good news is that pretty much every condo in Mississauga built after 2004 does come with a balcony. Unless you are buying an older condo, there is not much need to have balconies on your “wishlist” as it’s a standard feature. Some older condos also have balconies, however most of them have solariums, which are in essence ( den like rooms with large windows, positioned next to the living room).
As stated earlier, having a balcony allows the condo owner the convenience of going outside without having to leave the unit, in order to get some fresh air, enjoy the view, have coffee or even eat. Another advantage of balconies, is that the owner feels like they are sitting outside, where they can smoke and entertain, have some flowers and patio furniture (minus the backyard feel of a house). The last advantage that many see is that balconies seem to open up the indoor space. The unit feels much larger and there is also more natural light coming in.
The Disadvantages of Balconies
Balconies are surprisingly expensive for condo builders to built, and later on even more costly for the condo corporation to maintain. After some time, the cold winter weather we have in Canada does take a toll on the concrete slab floor, and the balconies do need repairs. Hypothetically speaking, if builders started to build condos without balconies, like they did for many condos prior to 2004, condos would in fact be larger in square footage. The 50-100 square foot of concrete used to create the balcony, could potentially be used to add additional living space. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Many condo buyers picture themselves buying a condo with a nice balcony in order to grill on the BBQ in the summer time. Unfortunately, the Ontario Fire Code prevents all high-rise condos in Mississauga to have propane BBQs on their balconies. Some buyers believe that the rule varies from building to building, yet, I need to stress that this law is not part of the condo declaration (condo rules), but rather part of the Ontario Fire Code. Some owners disregard these laws and still continue to have BBQs on their balconies, at their own risk.
The biggest disadvantage that I have found among some of the condo buyers who were considering units with balconies, is that some buyers with children feared balconies and how easy accessible they are. Some condo units have two exits and others have a small lock that is easy to open by young children.
Some buyers on the other hand believed that the concrete floor on the balcony looked unfinished. I was told in different parts of the world, most balconies have tile finishes and almost look as if they are part of the living space of the condo. What is important to note is that in Mississauga some condo corporations will actually allow you to finish your balcony while others do not.
The final disadvantage of balconies are the neighbors you may have to deal with. This includes nosy neighbors, to loud neighbors and the worse, to the neighbors which throw cigarette buts of their balconies.
Balconies are a funny thing, because most buyers insist on having them, but they rarely end up using them. Although it would be difficult to put an exact figure on how much premium a balcony would have, I would estimate it to be in the $15-20k range, over a unit which does not have a balcony. Terraces; which in some condos can be 400 or more square feet, are even more expensive, costing the buyer anywhere between $25-35k depending on the unit.
In my opinion, despite the disadvantages, having a balcony is a great thing! However, to get the most out of your balcony you have to have a great view. It’s like real estate – its comes down to location, location location!
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