I am likely going to buy a condominium on the top floor (4th). i want to negotiate the roof rights after

Asked by Francisco, Chicago, IL Thu Jul 17, 2008

closing. I hear rooftop decks need 2 exits, but where would the second exit go? does it have to go into my apartment? that seems unlikely to work out well cosmetically.

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Mwass, , Chicago, IL
Thu Jul 17, 2008
i cannot answer your questions about access/exits, but wanted to comment on the notion of "negotiating" roof rights after closing.

ownership rights to the roof should are set out in the condo declaration. if this is a new condo project, you should try to negotiate roof rights with the developer BEFORE the developer files the declaration with the county so that those rights can be spelled out from the get-go. if the condominium already exists as a legal entity, the process is much more complication. you will need to amend the declaration to document this change of ownership. to do that, you will need approval from the condo association and from the several mortgage companies that hold liens on the property.

typically, the roof is a "common element." this is significant because it means that (a) all the other unit owners share ownership of the roof and (b) each of their mortgage lenders has a lien interest in it as well.
1 vote
Jeffrey Kropp, Agent, Chicago, IL
Thu Jul 17, 2008
Francisco, the condo association decides whether you have roof rights or not. Normally, they run with the unit when its sold and are recorded in the condo declarations somewhere. If the unit does not have roof rights, you are subject to the whim of the condo association, which would have to agree to give you those rights and file some legal documents recording those rights. One reason roof rights may not currently exist is a rooftop deck is not up to code. So normally the condo board will not want to pay to make those changes, since you need permits, etc. I am sure something creative could be done where you pay all expenses, but as a buyer I would want a sense of whether the board has considered granting roof rights in the past and how they view it now. Otherwise, they could just say no and that is that. Try calling the Board president and see if they are willing to discuss it. Your realtor should be guiding you as well.
Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.1sthomegroup.com
1 vote
Daniel Cullen, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jul 24, 2008
The second exit is typically a set of spiral stairs or a series of stiles that run across the adjacent unit's rooftops to a common interior or exterior stair system. The higher end condos nowadays have two separate interior common stairways each of which gives full access from the roof to the ground floor. The intent of the code is to prevent an occupant from being stranded on the roof of a building on fire and having no way down other than a rapid, gravity assisted, uncontrolled descent.
0 votes
Wayne Beals, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jul 20, 2008

An architect is the best person to ask about how to execute the roof deck so that it is in compliance with Chicago's stringent codes.

As far as roof rights go. You should check with your real estate attorney to make sure that the association or developer can sell you the rights to the space. This should be accompanied by a satisfactory deed or other instrument to guarantee that you are able to develop or use the space. It further should happen with title insurance so it is a well protected right.

As far as the construction related issues go. There are a couple of obstacles to overcome, the first of which is to find out if a roofdeck can be built. I am a Realtor and General Contractor, so hopefully I can shed some light on this subject. The following is how I would approach the issue:

Before you purchase (if purchasing is possible), engage a lawyer to draft the purchase contract. The contract should have contingencies for Dept of Zoning, Dept of Building's and City of Chicago Approval. Once you and the seller have reached terms on the contract, engage Architect or Porch Builder to consult with you and draft plans for the city, one plans are completed, you'll have an understanding of exits, layouts, construction cost, etc. You will also need a survey for the city. If the city approves the plans, move forward. If the city does not approve the plans, you can exit the purchase contract if it was properly prepared, with only legal and architect's fees as a loss. In some cases, you may end up in the Dept of Zoning for a variance. This process can be costly, so watch your budget if you move forward.

Because the City Code, Roof decks can be costly in Chicago, which is one of the reasons they are scarce. Because they are scarce, they add tremendously to the value of you property. A new Porch, which has been the sore spot in City building court, has to hit 100 lbs/sq.ft.! A roofdeck even higher because of snow load (dead load). Be prepared to spend as much as $30-$40/sq.ft. of deck area, plus plans and permits if you need to modify structure, stairs, and porch assemblies. The price can climb from there. Your average 500 sq.ft. roofdeck should cost about 20-30K.

Hope this helps. Email me if you need resources for builders or architects.
0 votes
, ,
Fri Jul 18, 2008
Francisco, Call me if you need a loan for this Condo. 630-330-2229 Sean Cochran Quality Mortgage Lending
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