Replacement Costs for Condo Units Differ from Homes

Condo valuations

Many of us are much more familiar with estimating the costs to rebuild a home than estimating the costs to rebuild a condo. There are fundamental differences in the items included in the replacement cost for a condo unit versus a home. Those differences also require fundamentally different valuation tools for a house versus a condo.

Typically, the condominium association is responsible for the foundation, structure, exterior and roofing of the building. So these costs would not be included in the condo unit’s replacement cost. The unit owner may only be responsible to rebuild—and therefore insure—the interior of a condo unit. This is usually referred to as “from the walls in.” This “walls in” estimate should generally consider floor and wall coverings, lighting, trim, kitchens, baths and any special built-in features. However, different condo associations and different states can specify who is responsible for which costs in the event of a loss. In addition, the quality, location and the type of unit impact these costs.

In addition to understanding what the unit owner is responsible to insure, some of the questions to ask the unit owner are:

  • Is there central heating and air conditioning for the entire structure or is this part of each unit?
  • Is the construction quality basic, average or is this a high-end unit? Pictures are helpful in determining the quality. Detailed descriptions are not necessary, but you will want to know enough to determine its quality level.
  • Will the contractor need to work in a townhouse unit or in a high-rise unit? In other words, will there be any restrictions or added difficulty during a rebuilt that might increase the costs.

A Florida beachfront condo owner recently reached out to us to complete a replacement cost estimate for his condo unit. The local agents had quoted pricing at basic grade, vinyl flooring, builder’s grade kitchen and bathroom. Once we gathered some information our pricing reflected an above average quality condo: wood flooring, several built-ins, cabinets that were between custom and builder’s grade, above average ceilings, lighting, and crown and baseboard molding. Estimating the replacement cost at above average quality tripled the cost that had been initially estimated by the local agents. Perhaps the unit owner asked us for an estimate after receiving a low replacement cost, and was concerned that it would not cover the actual replacement of his unit?

After a loss, wouldn’t the unit owner want to build back what he has now? Would he want to pay thousands more out of his own pocket to return the unit to its present condition? We believe he would want the unit fully covered and are glad that he contacted us.

There are other sources of information on this subject. Here are several detailed articles with condo renovation costs, How much does it cost to remodel a condo? and Emily & Aaron’s Condo Renovation: What It Really Cost – A Budget Breakdown. While not complete replacements for the entire units from the walls in, they provide an approximation of the costs (be sure to add a few percentages for inflation since 2017) for renovations of condo units. 

The e2Value estimator tools were specifically designed for condos and co-ops, and to specifically handle homes of all sizes, ages and values, whether they are newly built, vintage homes or those in between. Whether you are looking for valuations for high-value homes, Mainstreet® homes, condos, co-ops, commercial properties, manufactured homes, log cabins, or farms and ranches, our patented estimator can quickly calculate the cost of replacing a residential, commercial or farm structure and provide you with a fast, cost-effective and accurate replacement cost valuation. Contact us for more information.