Dropped ceiling height

Matt8July 3, 2014

Hey guys,

New to this site and in need of some sound opinions about an issue I've run into. I bought a new-build condo and it's just about complete. After having a chance to walk-through before completion, I noticed that the 9' ceilings which are very important to me, especially in a smaller space, have been cut down to 8' to route ductwork.

I do understand that ventilation needs to go somewhere but I was expecting routing above the kitchen cabinets, or as a small bulkhead along the top of the wall, but in my case, they have lowered the entire kitchen, hallway, half of the dining room area and both bathrooms to 8 feet. After some calculations, it's about 40% of the 1000 sq foot unit, which I believe is totally unreasonable.

The condo feels more boxed-in and doesn't have the same airy feel which to me has lessened the 'wow' factor. I know this because the identical unit next to me does not suffer from this same ceiling drop. Seems their ducting has been routed through my ceiling.

I've included a pic for reference. I have a pic of the neighbouring unit but seems I can only post 1 pic? What do you fine GW folk think? And what can/should I do about this?

Appreciate any insight.


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Was the unit sold as having 9 foot ceilings? If so, you might be able to get out of the contract. Could you change to another unit in the building?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:30AM
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Didn't you look at it before purchasing this unit?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:49AM
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@graywings. Yes, it was sold a having 9' ceilings on the feature sheet. I could probably get out of the contract but I've been waiting a long time for it to be built (2.5 yrs) and also made some fairly extensive upgrades out of pocket (appliances.) An identical suite next to me is available which has no ceiling drop but they'd have to move all of the appliances over which they don't have an appetite for.

@millworkman - I bought it pre-sale so it wasn't built yet. The show suite had full 9 footers throughout so I wasn't expecting drop ceilings, especially in a principle room.

Pic of neighbouring suite.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Huge difference between 8 and 9 ft. The second unit you show seems so much airier. If it was sold as having 9 ft. ceilings, and there's a place next door that you could easily move into, then moving your appliances is nothing. Seriously, make them do it.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 3:58PM
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@linelle - Thanks, I agree, but they are refusing to do the swap! Seems to me like a completely reasonable solution.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 4:19PM
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I think it's fair for you to ask for some concessions. What form that takes is up to you. I noticed cabinet and crown molding differences between the two pictures. Do you have nicer finishing details in your current unit? Are you willing to deal with them over this? If you are, and you want the higher ceilings- fight for them.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Edit- duplicate

This post was edited by musicgal on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 18:33

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 4:28PM
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So, they're offering to give you the other unit, but they're keeping the appliances you paid extra for? Not cool.

However, we might not be talking about a simple case of a hand cart and a couple of guys dragging the appliances down the hall. It looks like you have gas stove and the neighbour has electric. Does the neighbour even have a gas hookup? I'm guessing the vent hood would also have to be moved, requiring reconfiguration of the cabinets.

Does the vent hood play a role in this? Dig your addition of a gas range require extra ducts to vent outside?

You might be screwed. I've seen in markets where there is a lot of demand, the builder simply says "if you don't want it, here's your money back and we'll sell to someone else." Especially in a hot market and it's been 2.5 years. They may be excited to get rid of you if they can now sell the unit to someone else for a lot more than you paid. Sorry. :-(

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:29PM
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One the one hand, I see why you like the full nine-foot ceiling. On the other hand, I would rather have a perfectly flat dropped ceiling than some of the weird soffits and chases I've seen in this sort of commercial or multi-unit construction.

I have seen lots of awful soffits dropped through the middle of rooms, soffits that stop dead in the middle of the wall, soffits on top of soffits, soffits with recesses in them. This apartment at least offers a clean solution.
There may not be much control over whose unit ductwork runs through in a multi-unit building either, it may have to do with the position of the particular unit in the building.
I occupied a unit where the ducting for three other units' kitchens and baths changed direction requiring a dropped ceiling (from 12'-7'10") in my kitchen. I was able to reroute it when I renovated after a bunch of calculations and such, and I still lost 6" which was less noticeable than two feet.

I "get" the whole taller ceiling thing, too, but it's also a matter of proportion. Depending on the size of the bathroom, I tend to think an eight foot ceiling looks more in proportion with the overall size of a smaller room. I think sometimes the ceiling height and what it does is a bit overstated, personally. It's a matter of comparison that causes the issue.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:58PM
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Hahaha, Pal. I have a 5x8 bathroom with a ceiling that vaults from 9 to 11 ft. I'm used to it, but it is a little oddly proportioned.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:07PM
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@pal - I wasn't overly concerned with the bathrooms, dropped ceilings are fairly typical there, but kitchen - and to a lesser extent hallway - is my issue. I'm sure the reason they dropped the entire kitchen area was to keep things clean. Rather than having a portion of the kitchen ceiling low and elsewhere, not. It's more a matter of disclosure. I'm sure they knew this would have to be done from the beginning.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:21PM
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I would be annoyed by the non-disclosure, and I would also be annoyed that it was *my apartment rather than someone else's for sure.

But I am surprised (or maybe not) by what people even in the building trades do *not know about from the beginning. I agree they probably knew something would have to be done, but the "how" and the "where" may be somewhat left up to chance. I've looked at plans and said "Okay, this is the floorplan, what does the Ceiling Plan look like?" and just gotten blank looks, because nobody's really thought about it.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:58PM
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There is always a bright side, you no longer need to worry about dust collecting on your cabinetry!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:17PM
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robo (z6a)

Although it is pretty common to have a dropped ceiling in kitchens, I too would be highly annoyed. If I paid for 9 foot ceilings, I would expect 9 foot ceilings. I too wonder if their reluctance to change appliances stems from your unit seemingly having been upgraded to gas? That's a big change.

As a preconstruction customer they should be trying to keep you, one of the people that made the build possible, happy. Sadly it seems some don't care once the deposit is in their hands.

Do you have a realtor or real estate lawyer who can advocate for you?

If I felt I could walk, especially if their breach of contract entitled me to keep the $$ I laid out for appliances, I would certainly threaten to do so and follow through if they couldn't give me what I wanted. In your case there may be an identical unit that does have gas on a higher floor.

At the end of the day you have to decide how much this is going to bother you day in and day out in your home. Some things about my old condo I thoughts would drive me crazy I didn't even notice after a year. Some continued to bug me. I also question whether this change will depress your resale value. If so, that's something very specific I would imagine you should get compensated for.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Sat, Jul 5, 14 at 6:03

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 6:00AM
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robo (z6a)

Ps if you're in Toronto you have 10 days from discovery of a "material change" to the unit to walk away...so the clock is ticking to consult someone.


Pps the blog below might give you some humor relief

Here is a link that might be useful: Dear valued condo buyer

This post was edited by robotropolis on Sat, Jul 5, 14 at 6:16

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 6:11AM
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On GW there are plenty of conversations about whether a particular finish (cabinet color, counter material, etc.) would negatively impact resale. In my way of thinking, if the house, price and location are right, the other stuff can be taken care of, even if it's over time. It's not like you can just cross the street and say, I'll have this one instead because everything about it is the same except for the things I didn't like in the other one.

However, in a condo complex, you actually have that situation. Here's one with half the ceilings at 8 ft. The one next door has all 9 ft. Hmmmm. I know which one I'd pick. Even if I had to settle for an electric stove, I think the ceiling height would matter more to me.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 6:33PM
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OMG...I would absolutely talk to a lawyer and walk if needed. That is NOT what you "ordered!" Ceiling height is very important to me...all the more if I were living in a condo that may not have as many windows as a house. I would have a lawyer draft a quick letter. I imagine that should do the trick. Good grief, I would be mad.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 6:54AM
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    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 1:30PM
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