In the past year we have run into a few instances where we were involved in the sale of a condo. The instances I am talking about involved attic storage space.
Most people, both buyers and sellers, do not realize that in a condo, the attic space is owned by the condos association, not the homeowner. In the cases I’m talking about, the homeowner (or possibly a previous homeowner) installed a pull down staircase to give access to the attic for storage. Fire department regulations, in most towns, require attic access in case of a fire. This access is usually through a hatchway, not a pull down staircase. But this hatchway does not allow much room to get things into the attic space. So, quite often, people install the pull down staircase. And we notice that quite often, the roof trusses get cut or partially removed to make room for that pull down staircase.
And this can cause a, possibly, serious problem. The truss is a series of 2x4s that are engineered to support not only the weight of the roof, but any additional load that is placed on the roof, such as snow. When you cut, or even partially remove the truss, you compromise the structural integrity of the roof. And in this case, if the roof fails, it will probably be the homeowner’s responsibility, not the condo associations. In addition, the fire wall between the interior of the house and the attic is almost always compromised.
If the condo association learns about something like this happening, most of the time they will insist that the pull down staircase be removed, and the trusses get returned to their original condition. There are also some towns where you will not be able to get the Certificate of Occupancy that is necessary for the condo to be sold unless the pull down staircase is properly removed.
If you wish to make use of the attic space in a condo, speak with the association first. You may save yourself a lot of headaches.
Art Reiman – Realtor