Townhouse Inspection – Common Areas Responsibility

A home inspector typically focuses on assessing the condition and safety of a property’s structural and mechanical components, both inside and outside. In the case of a townhouse, common areas typically refer to shared spaces that are not part of individual units but are used by all residents. When inspecting townhouse common areas, a home inspector may evaluate the following aspects:

  1. Exterior:
    • Building structure: Inspecting the exterior walls, roof, foundation, siding, and any visible structural components for signs of damage, deterioration, or wear.
    • Doors and windows: Checking the condition of common area doors, windows, and frames for proper functioning, weatherproofing, and security.
  2. Interior Hallways and Stairwells:
    • Walls and ceilings: Examining for cracks, water stains, and other signs of damage.
    • Flooring: Checking for wear and tear, uneven surfaces, or loose tiles or carpeting.
    • Lighting: Ensuring proper lighting in hallways and stairwells for safety.
  3. Common Areas:
    • Fire safety: Verifying the presence and functionality of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and other safety equipment.
    • Electrical systems: Checking common area lighting, outlets, and electrical panels for safety and compliance with codes.
    • Plumbing: Inspecting for leaks, water damage, and proper drainage in shared bathrooms, laundry rooms, or other common plumbing areas.
    • HVAC systems: Assessing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems serving the common areas.
    • Handrails and safety features: Ensuring that handrails and other safety features in staircases and walkways are secure and compliant.
    • Common area appliances: If applicable, inspecting appliances like laundry machines in shared spaces for proper functioning and safety.
    • Parking Lot: Check the condition of the pavement and curbs. Look for signs of deterioration such as oil stains, cracks and potholes.
  4. Security and Access:
    • Entry points: Evaluating the security of entrances, locks, and any access control systems for the common areas.
    • Security cameras: Checking the condition and placement of security cameras if present.
  5. Elevators (if applicable):
    • Inspecting elevator functionality, safety mechanisms, and compliance with relevant regulations.

It’s important to note that the scope of a home inspection may vary based on local regulations, the specific townhouse complex, and the agreement between the home inspector and the client. The goal of a home inspection is to provide the client with an objective assessment of the property’s condition, highlighting any potential issues that may require attention or repairs.


Remember you (along with the owners in the development) share responsibility for the cost of repairs to the common areas. Know what your limits of liability are for the common areas. Review available documentation such as the contingency fund, depreciation report and strata minutes to gain a complete understanding of the condition of the complex, and what it will cost you to live there.