Top 10 pre-construction Purchasing Tips

Many preconstruction buyers are surprised to find that the units they purchased on paper look nothing like what they imagined. These 10 preconstruction tips should be used when purchasing a new condo or house in Toronto, Vaughan & Thornhill:

  1. Check ceiling heights of the model-suite
    Ceiling heights in most condos are 8-feet, 8’6″, 9-feet or 10-feet, but their model suites have 16+ foot ceilings to make the suite feel more airy. Often the ceiling is painted black, with lights dropped down to the actual height of the suite-ceiling.
    Tip: Ask the sales-agent where the ceiling will start in the suite you are looking at.
  2. Model Suites have upgrades
    Often the model suite in a sales centre will contain upgrades that are not standard in all suites, such as back-splashes in the kitchen and hardwood flooring throughout. It is important to understand what you are purchasing, and know what extras and upgrades you will have to pay for.
    Tip: The model suite will always have a sign indicating what “upgrades” are being shown in that model-suite. Look for this, and understand all the upgrades. Do not fear asking the sales-representative.
  3. Know your floorplan, and study it!
    Paper floorplans are not easy to walk through. What may appear to be an excellent layout to the lay-eye might be filled with inefficient space, doors that swing into odd locations, and small unusable rooms. A 2-bedroom 520SF suite is in fact very tight! A well known architect does not mean great layouts!
    Tip: Imagine yourself walking through the layout, and actually using the space. A Realtor experienced in pre-construction would be an asset to helping you walk through these layouts.
  4. Ignore furniture printed in paper-floorplans
    What size beds and furniture are shown in the layout? You may think that there is room for a queen size bed, but there might be a double in the layout! Often floorplans have “condo-sized” furniture shown in the layout, making it hard to imagine full-sized furniture.
    Tip: Imagine the floorplan with no furniture drawn in, and ask for room dimensions.
  5. Is the builder reputable?
    Tip: Check the TARION website, and see if there are any “chargeable conciliations” against the builder, “homes with claims”, and if so how many dollars were paid in claims? Also, talk to previous purchasers.
  6. How is the builder’s customer service?
    Every year JD POWER releases their “New Condominium Builder Customer Satisfaction Study”. Check to see where your builder is.
    Further, ask for references from their previous clients and don’t be shy to visit some of their recent buildings and ask past clients about their experience.
  7. Have everything in writing!
    Have you been promised something by the builder? Maybe a parking spot next to an elevator? Get it in writing. Get everything in writing. There are a lot of people involved in the sale of your condo-suite, and it may not be ready for a few years. You might remember a little promise, but there is a good chance that it will be forgotten by the builder.
  8. Does the advert look amazing? Do your research…
    Check the builders website and the building website. Read their blog to see what they are talking about. Check Twitter and Facebook to see what people are saying about them.
  9. Walk the neighbourhood
    Amenity maps are often askew and not to scale.
    Tip: Make sure you check out the proximity to local amenities in person!
  10. An “artists interpretation” is an interpretation from an artist!
    Renderings and scale models are great and fun, but, remember… they are an “artists interpretation”. The end product may look much different when the building is completed.


Ilan Joseph is a Real Estate Broker with Sutton Group and is co-founder of a 10-person award-winning Toronto, Thornhill and Vaughan real estate team. You can find him on LinkedInTwitterYouTube and . For over 10 years, Ilan has provided more than 1400 buyers and sellers valued advice and service, enabling them to reach their real estate goals. He’s kind of like the Bruce Willis of real estate.