With two common strata plan types (Condominium and Townhouse) and a third (Bare Land Strata) gaining popularity, it is important to spend some time explaining the differences and similarities.
Condominium properties are usually found in urban cores where land values are high. Generally taller than the four stories permitted for wood frame construction, they are built of steel reinforced concrete, and will often have common systems such as Heating and Hot Water, sophisticated Fire Alarm & Suppression Systems and, of course, common access hallways, stairwells and elevators, among many others.
Further from the city centers with access to larger areas of land, developers will build wood frame Condominium properties, which will have most of the same amenities and common systems as their inner city cousins.
Where available space and property values (not to mention market demand) make sense, developers will build Townhouse type stratas, also known as semi- detached housing, where individual units are “clustered” together in a single structure, but there are no common hallways or entries and fewer requirements for other common systems.
These can be one, two or even three stories depending on the geography of the property. Depending on the property’s area, there can be one, two, or many, of these clustered units that make up the entire Strata Plan, and the construction or “build out” of larger properties is often “phased” over a number of years.
In each of these Strata Plan types, an owner purchases title to his individual Strata Unit and becomes a “shareholder” in the Strata Corporation, which manages and maintains the common property, including the land and all the common systems, in the best interest of all the owners.
The Bare Land Strata has become more popular in recent years and is typically found in rural areas, although not always. In this case the developer assembles a large property and installs major services such as roads and utilities and, often, a common Waste Water Management or Sewage Treatment System. Each Strata owner purchases a Strata Lot within the property and can build a single family, detached home. The Strata Corporation is responsible for the management and maintenance of the systems and services to each of these separate lots.
While each of these Strata Plan types appeal to different buyers and their chosen lifestyles, each owner becomes a “partner” in the Strata Corporation that operates the Plan’s Common Property and Systems on their behalf.
John Grubb is a Property Maintenance Consultant serving Strata Corporations and building owners on Vancouver Island.
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