The Joys Of Home Ownership!


4 minute read

June 3, 2008

High Maintenance.

I once told a girl she was “high maintenance.”  It didn’t end well…

My condo and my patio are also “high maintenance,” but my condo and my patio didn’t throw red wine in my face and break up with me…


What is the number one reason people buy condominiums instead of houses?


Think of all the responsibilities you have when you own a house!  You rake leaves in the fall, shovel snow and salt ice in the winter, and spend hours picking up those damn maple keys in the spring!  You mow your lawn, plant flowers, trim hedges.  What about the plumbing and heating systems?  I could go on and on, but I’d be regurgitating three or four of my past blog pieces…

People move into condominiums because they provide a low-maintenance style of living.  From the underground parking, to the elevaltors, to the concierge, condominiums enable the owner to essentially live carefree and secure lives.

Sure, you can renovate your condominium like you would a house, or even do small things like change a light fixture or paint a wall, but there is very seldom the wiping of a sweaty brow after a hard day’s work.

Or is there?

My brother and I both have one thing in common….well, okay a few, but with respect to our condos, we both have exceptionally large terraces.  Over the course of the past month, it seems every time I call my brother on the weekend, he’s always saying, “Hey…..huh….ughh…..yeah….I’m just outside, workin’ on the patio.”  He’s always tired!  Always involved of some sort of back-breaking labor or another!

Who knew a condo could be so much work?

I recently discovered what all the hub-bub was about when I decided it was time for me to spruce up my own 440 square foot paradise.  I had all these grand plans last summer to build large cedar planter boxes with a tall lattice (both for growing vines and for privacy from my neighbors) but my plans never came to fruition.  Not only that, the dozen trees that I inherited in my real estate deal had all died over the fall/winter, and I was left to dispose of them and their pesky pine needles.

What a mess!

I purchased seven cedar trees, each six-feet tall, and carried them up through the back stairs of my building and onto my patio.  The problem with these trees is that they are grown and harvested in British Columbia, and the roots are backed in a thick, heavy clay.  In order to plant them, you must first free the roots from the clay…..with a HAMMER!  What a mess!  It took me eighteen half-full garbage bags to dispose of all this clay.

I then purchased a few “tropical trees” that evidently will die over the winter, but at $25/each, at least I have my glory for six months.

Here is what the trees look like, keep in mind the mess it made to get them to this state…


What a huge patio!  I’m smiling as I type this…

So after a few weeks with just trees on my patio, I decided I needed to get these damn planter boxes built, at any cost.

I asked my brother if he thought perhaps he and I, together, could build these things.  He answered, “Well, we couldn’t….but two men could.”  No, I’m just kidding.  That’s one of our favorite lines from Seinfeld

Two weeks ago, my good friend Wes and I went to home depot, drew up some plans, and left with $600.00 worth of cedar lumber.

Suffice it to say, the wood sat on my patio for a week before we even started!

The tough part about building these planter boxes is that other residents in my building seem to dislike the sound of a table-saw at 11:30PM on a Tuesday night.  My patio might be private left-to-right, but look up, and this is what you see:


Holy Crap, it’s the Matrix!

No, not really.  It’s just one-hundred of my neighbors looking down on me, literally and figuratively.

After about ten days of working two hours, every third day, Wes and I finally got the planter boxes finished.  And by “Wes and I,” I really mean “Wes worked while I stood there being completely useless.”


There is something to be said for hand-made, high-quality, unique-craftsmanship planter boxes that you saw constructed from start to finish.  Believe me—I checked every single Home Depot, Rona, Lowe’s, Sheridan’s, and the like in attempts to find planter boxes like this, and NOTHING!

But the most fun step, of course, was lugging all the bags of soil out of my car, up the stairwell, and onto my patio…


Yeah.  That’s about one-third of the soil I’m going to need.

So what is my point to this long winded story?

Well, if I value my condo as an investment and as the largest asset I’ll own for quite some time, then I have to maximize it’s value.  The interior of my condo is 585 square feet, and while it contains “upgrades” such as the granite counters and will soon contain crown-moldings and new Berber carpet, it is the patio that makes my condo unique.

There are six of these patios out of the 200+ units in my building, and my patio is, and will be, the best one.

Two weeks from now, I will have added plants, trees, and shrubs to the custom-made cedar planter boxes, and I’ll have added a wooden park bench to fit outside my doorway for those pesky smokers.  I’m going to buy either a “bistro set” of a table and two high-back chairs, or perhaps a couple of Chaise Lounge Chairs.  And what patio wouldn’t be complete without a waterfall?  Yeah, seriously….a waterfall!

My condominium is anything but low-maintenance.

The last couple weeks has been a lot of hard work, but it’s going to pay off both in terms of the increase in value of my investment and the enjoyment I’ll get every single night this summer.

Oh, and my patio is also my new home-office

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. Pascal Pascal

    at 6:04 am

    I like what you’ve done with your condo, I admire your design & great efforts! And increasing the value of your property is always a good move!

  2. Pingback: TREB vs. OREA: This Could Get Interesting - Toronto Realty Blog

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