As much as we love apartment living, some units have better construction than others. There are apartment buildings that get renovated quickly, while others are shoddily built. However, the construction quality isn't always apparent on appearances. You may not be able to tell right away which apartments have excellent or lousy construction quality.
Before moving into an apartment unit, you want to make sure the construction is up to par. Otherwise, a poorly constructed apartment may have design flaws that give way to damage. Here are some of the ways you can check the apartment construction quality.
1. Check Paint Quality
If you see a lack of uniformity in how the walls have been painted, it's a sign that whoever was doing the job didn't know how to do it any other way. This hints that there could be more serious issues elsewhere in the apartment, including some in the structural integrity of the construction. Fortunately, an issue with the paint is a relatively simple problem to fix.
2. Check for Moisture
Moisture can get into an apartment through various means. A crack in beams or columns. Seepage from the roof. Dampness from external walls due to rain. Moisture and wetness are simple problems to resolve and prevent. That said, it comes at a cost. Over time, constructions can start to fail when it comes to preventing the entry of moisture.
3. Check Materials Used
With the internet, you can do a lot of research on materials recommended for an apartment. Knowing what materials are in your apartment, you can test them on durability and maintenance costs. If you notice damage in some of these materials or question their long-term lifespan, this is something to bring up with the authorities. They should be able to offer information on what has been used and why.
4. Check Slopes
Due to the ground moving beneath an apartment building or improperly installed flooring, an uneven floor can lead to all sorts of issues. You can check the slope of a floor by placing a marble on it. See if it rolls and where to. If it's obvious after a few tries that the flooring is uneven, a contractor may need to reformat and redo the design. If it's a structural issue with the building, that's something that may be out of your control in terms of seeking a fix.
5. Check Wall Thickness
While it's unreasonable to expect a fully soundproofed apartment, there is some expectation on noise control. Examine the walls of your apartment rentals and units. They should be pretty thick, at least enough to diminish sound transfer between units. If you have a key, press it gently against the wall. If it makes a hole, you know it's a wall constructed with cheap material.
6. Check Fixtures and Latches
Check fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom, electrical fittings, water pressure, cabinet latches and similar hardware. Look at the windows and doors. They should be functioning correctly. If you notice malfunctioning hardware or doors that aren't closing with ease, it's a sign the apartment is in rough shape. For some, it won't be a big issue if it's a fixture that needs replacing. That said, there could be other issues tied to electrical or plumbing that could require further attention.
7. Inspect Your Bathroom
A bathroom has to contend with a lot of moisture. Check for leakage. The tub or shower should be sealed. There shouldn't be any damage around the toilet. Plus, the walls should be in fairly decent shape and the air ventilation should also work. Many older apartments can struggle with their bathroom design if they haven't been updated or maintained over time.
8. Electrical, Plumbing, & HVAC
Start with an electrical check-up and inspect the electrical panel. Ensure it's in fair condition and without any damage around it. You shouldn't see any outlets spark on plugging something in, either. Plumbing should work as expected, with decent flow and pressure seen in the faucets and flush tanks. Your HVAC unit should also be functioning well, with air spreading evenly throughout an apartment.
9. Check the Tiling
Tiles anywhere in the apartment shouldn't be damaged, incorrectly installed, or chipped. Any damage more prominent than 5-8 mm is going to be an eyesore. For that, a new tile should be put in, especially if you are looking to show off the unit. Unfortunately, it's not always easy finding new tiles to put in. A contractor may not have the same tile to lay in. This may mean having to retile the apartment floor, which is a serious job.
10. Check Building Safety
Moving outside of a single apartment unit, check the rest of the building for signs of safety compromises. An emergency exit should be clearly indicated. Stairwells should be clear. If elevators are in the building, ensure they are adequately maintained. Safety matters. It's one of the first things any builder will pay attention to when renovating or constructing an apartment. If safety issues are present, that's a red flag that there are other issues to contend with.
You can find out a lot about an apartment without speaking to an expert. That said, if you want to independently verify things like the quality of soil, integrity of the steel and concrete, and do similar strength-testing, you will need a consultant.