In a condominium project, the individually owned area is called the unit. The exact physical location of each condominium unit within a project is shown on the recorded map or condominium plan for that project. The map or plan, and/or the CC&Rs, will also contain a definition of the term “unit” as it is used for that project, listing the elements of the building that are part of the unit. These definitions vary significantly from project to project, and it is unwise to apply generalizations or assumptions. Instead, read the definition with the following questions in mind:
- Does the unit include any exterior surfaces such as roofing, siding, or foundation?
- What portions of the interior walls does the unit include? The whole wall (i.e., both sides and everything in between), half the wall (i.e. everything from one side to a point halfway to the other side), one finished surface (i.e., only the wallboard or plaster on one side), or just the finish (i.e., the paint or paper)? Note that some unit definitions distinguish perimeter walls (i.e., walls between units, or between a unit and the common area) from partition walls (i.e., walls between rooms in the same unit), or structural walls (i.e., walls that help hold up the building) from non-structural walls (i.e., those that simply divide rooms). Where these wall-type distinctions are made, the portions of the wall that are part of the unit will vary depending on wall type.
- What portions of the floors and ceilings does the unit include? The entire floor or ceiling, all portions up to a midpoint, the finished portion (i.e., ceiling plaster or sheetrock, finished wood flooring), or just the finish (i.e., paint or carpet)? Here again, some definitions distinguish floors and ceilings between units, or between a unit and the common area, from floors and ceilings between levels of the same unit.
- What portions of the windows and doors does the unit include? The entire window or door, or only glass and screens? Note that some definitions distinguish interior doors from exterior doors. Does the definition include window and door frames? Does it include window and door hardware?
- Does the unit include all of the fixtures and appliances located within it? Note that the term “fixtures,” when used in this context, encompasses cabinetry, lights, electrical outlets, sinks, showers, and tubs.
- What portions of the plumbing, electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems are part of the unit? All elements that serve only the unit, or only elements visible from within the unit?
- Does the unit include any decks, balconies, or patios, and if so, how does the definition describe the boundaries of these areas? Note that even if the unit does not include these areas, they may be assigned as exclusive use common area as discussed below.