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Whether you own a new home or condo, are considering buying one, or just love to dream about it, the Open Door blog is here to share stories that can help you protect what is likely the biggest investment of your life.

The Open Door blog is published by Tarion, a non-profit corporation that administers Ontario’s New Home Warranty Plan and registers all new home builders in Ontario. Click here to learn more about us.


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What the average Joe should know about condo floor space
November 5, 2015
What the average Joe should know about condo floor space

Know what to expect – with help from Tarion.

You may have heard this story before. Perhaps it has happened to you or someone you know and love. Maybe that someone is named Joe. It goes like this: Joe meets condo, Joe falls in love with condo, Joe selects a unit, along with a certain designated square footage, purchases that unit, and he lives happily ever after – or at least until he moves in. Because when it comes time to unpack his life, Joe discovers that his brand new home is smaller than he expected.

It’s not unusual for new condo owners to be surprised – unpleasantly – by their condo size. Calculating the square footage in your new condominium unit can be confusing enough, but what do you do if it doesn’t measure up to what was promised? If you’re buying a new condominium and want to know how to protect yourself against spatial surprises, read on.

You won't want to live with a cramped kitchen like this one.1

Tarion requires that builders include a note that “actual usable floor space may vary from the stated floor area.”

How is condo floor area calculated?

Let’s start by saying: there’s nothing that requires builders to indicate the square footage of homes or condo units in their materials. If they do so, they do so voluntarily. And if they do so voluntarily, they need to follow Tarion’s approved method of calculating floor area. This method is outlined in Builder Bulletin 22, and it applies to purchase agreements, advertising and sales materials. Here’s how it works for high-rise units:

When calculating area that meets an exterior wall or corridor wall, the measurement starts from the exterior face of the outside wall
For walls that separate one unit from another, measure from the halfway point between the walls
The area that you get is the total area of your unit. This includes space taken up by things like mechanical shafts or structural components, and this is why Tarion requires that builders include a note that “actual usable floor space may vary from the stated floor area.”

What can you do if there is a variance in your condo floor area?

Although Tarion publishes the approved method for calculating floor area, it’s important to note that there is no warranty coverage on floor area calculations. Keep in mind that some variance is to be expected – Builder Bulletin 22 says that a tolerance of 2% is considered acceptable. If the discrepancy between the square footage you were promised and the one you ended up getting is greater than 2% and you want your builder to address it, you need to work it out with your builder or perhaps consult a lawyer to see what can be done.

How you can protect yourself.

The best way to avoid disputes with your builder over square footage is to have this conversation at the time of purchase. You and your builder are free to come up with your own agreement related to floor area. Together you can decide what percentage of variance is acceptable and what the consequences would be if the difference ends up being more than what you agreed to. For example, you could agree to be able to back out of the contract if there ends up being more than a 10% variance. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s written into your purchase agreement. 

Lessons Learned

Builders are not required to state the square footage of a newly built home or condo in their sales and marketing materials.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with your warranty rights so you know what’s included and what’s not.
Work with your builder and a lawyer to prepare a clear purchase agreement.

What’s your story?

Share your story with us. Every time you do, other homeowners are empowered.

Tips for using Tarion:

Learn what is and isn’t covered under your New Home Warranty. Being pro-active can help to protect yourself against surprises after you move in.

The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.