Condo living: The joys of buying new

Buying a new condo, especially in pre-construction, creates opportunities to find what you really want Author of the article | Michele Marko Publishing date | Mar 18, 2022

When North Shore realtor Carmel Frandsen attended the pre-construction sales presentation for Adera’s two-tower Crest development on Lonsdale, it was in a professional capacity for her clients. Happily, clients did purchase a home in the residence, but, surprisingly, so did she—a two-bedroom, 700-square-foot, top floor unit.

Though already a condo owner on lower Lonsdale, Frandsen was attracted to the uniqueness of both the exterior and interior architectural elements.

“The architecture of the building was big [in my decision],” she recalls in a telephone chat from her new condo. “Just the overall look—the architects did a really good job. Anything that was different, that kind of stands out, that’s what kind of made me think ‘maybe I want to [live here].’ I wasn’t even looking; it just kind of drew me in.”

The interior details, like the exposed Cross Laminated Timber on the ceiling in the living room, were a big draw.

“I hadn’t seen that before, and I’m not big on cookie-cutter condos. I like it when there’s some personality to it,” she explains.

Buying a new condo, especially in pre-construction, creates opportunities to find what you really want—in terms of the layout, interior finishes, type of building and amenities—rather than settling for what’s on offer with existing inventory.

That was the case for Karen Lane, and husband Tom, when they started looking at condos in White Rock. Having decided to forego subdividing their one-acre South Surrey property to build two new houses due to Tom experiencing a health scare, they opted to lower stress levels by downsizing to a condo. The couple has their own construction business and could have taken on a reno, but again managing stress was a deciding factor as they were both working full time.

“The reason we did it was because we were just looking to make an easier life so we could travel more, that sort of thing, just free ourselves up,” Lane says.

They purchased a ninth-floor, two-bedroom unit in The Beverley by the Cressey Development Group. The pre-construction purchase gave them time to sell their 5,500-square-foot home and find new space for their business that was also operated from their property. The Beverley’s big attraction for the Lanes was not just the ocean views, a beautifully appointed suite, and central location, but the amenities which Lane describes simply as “incredible.”

“There’s a rooftop deck that has a 360-degree view,” she enthuses. “It’s gorgeous. It’s got an indoor party room up there. It’s got a pool on the main floor with a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room. It’s got a fitness room on the second floor that’s equipped and a separate little room for yoga.” Cressey also included a play park, a concierge and two parking spots with each unit with options to buy more and even a few garages.

Frandsen echoes the appreciation for amenities at the Crest, saying that Adera introduced features that support a West Coast lifestyle like a dedicated mountain bike room for tinkering, a dog wash station, and an off-leash dog park on the property. The building also accommodates two dogs with no size restrictions, which suits Frandsen’s not-so-small dog, Lira.

“It felt like it just checked all the boxes for me as a North Shore resident,” she says. “It truly encompassed the West Coast lifestyle.”

Moving into a newly constructed property meant an opportunity for reimagining their interior style. Both women embraced the chance by starting from scratch and switching up their style towards a more modern aesthetic.

“We got rid of everything and started fresh,” Lane confirms. “I think our family home was transitional [style], or transitional modern maybe, but our new [aesthetic] is definitely modern.”

Lane says that because the space is light and white, not uber-modern but very current, she found it easy to decorate and furnish. She sourced furniture from Expand because, at 1,300-square-feet, it’s a smaller space than their previous home and other pieces from Scan Design, Article, and a custom sofa (after three others were auditioned but didn’t make the cut) from Van Gogh.

For Frandsen transitioning to a modern style was a reflection of her maturity. “I think as you age, your budget gets more sophisticated and modern,” she says, laughing.

She purchased pieces from CB2 and Moe’s Home Collection, and Homesense. “I styled this as more of an executive condo…I’ve got the floating stairs coming down, curved white couch, the big, oversized floor mirror. I guess it’s a West Coast feel.”

Another unexpected commonality for the two women was discovering a great sense of community in their respective buildings. Lane describes the connectedness in her building as incredible, attributing it partly to the building not being transitional. She hadn’t ever experienced such close interaction with neighbours before, even in their old neighbourhood. Attendance at strata meetings is at about 90 per cent, and, prior to COVID-19, there was a happy hour on Thursdays in the rooftop deck’s common room and coffee hour on Saturday mornings.

They also have a Christmas celebration. If this sounds a bit over the top for those who prefer some privacy, Lane is quick to point out there’s no pressure to join in.

“You can see as much or as little of people as you want,” she explains. “Nobody ever questions you. Nobody ever makes a judgement of ‘that person never shows up.’ Everybody respects everyone’s space.”

Frandsen says, “it’s so nice having neighbours where everyone is new to the building.” When she moved into her previous condo, built in the 1990s, most had been there originally. She felt that as the new arrival, she was given the impression that everything regarding the building was established, and no one was open to change—a vibe completely different than the Crest.

“Everyone is just eager to be nice to each other. It was a welcoming community, and it still is almost a year later, and everyone is just super nice.”

Moving into a freshly constructed building is something that both women have relished.

“Just having that grade of appliances is fabulous. I have the quartz countertops and backsplash. It has a real luxe feel to it,” says Frandsen.

Lane sums it up succinctly: “When everything is brand new, it just feels really nice.”


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