What is considered to be an improvement versus a repair?

UPDATED: Jun 20, 2012

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What is considered to be an improvement versus a repair?

The trustees are planning to repair balconies. According to the condo by-laws, the unit owners have to pay for repairs. The construction company has to replace the plywood, some joists, the railing, the old deck floor and install new ones (this means the installation of new plywood, new joists, a new railing, and a new deck floor). Should this be considered improvement or repair? The cost difference between repair and improvement is about $200 which equals the cost of those joists that are to be replaced.

Asked on June 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A "repair" of an item is when there is a situation where the object is damaged and the work done with respect to it places the item in the condition it was in before it was damaged.

An "improvement" is then the item repaired is placed in a much better situation than before the item was damage. The "improvement" is not equal to the item that was "repaired".

The improvement to the item places it in a much better position. For example, one has damaged pressured treated decking. Rather than repair the damaged decking with pressure treated lumber, clear heart redwood is used. The redwood is an "improvement" as to the deck.

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