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Co-op and condominium renovations in New York City present unique challenges to even seasoned buyers. Even a knowledgeable owner can run into unnecessary complications and delayed scheduling if the project is not planned and executed well.
Unless a renovation simply involves changing cabinetry or something else cosmetic, co-ops or condos require that an owner work with an architect relying on the expertise of the architect to ensure quality. An experienced, qualified architect is your representative and your advocate during this process, from co-op board negotiations to observing construction. I always tell my clients at MHA to relax and attend to their jobs and families while I attend to the intricacies of the process.
In the co-op building an individual owns a share of a building which allows him or her to occupy a particular space. In a condominium, an individual owns his or her unit. In the renovation of both however construction must work around shared walls, ceilings, plumbing stacks and a shared exterior façade. It is these “shared” items that the board is mainly concerned with and will regulate renovations to ensure that these items are not compromised.
Proposals for new kitchens and baths are of specific interest to review board because even the most cautious renovation may risk a leak. Most boards use the use the “no wet over dry rule” which excludes adding a bath or kitchen above a downstairs neighbor’s bedroom or living space. In order for the exterior façade to remain uniform and pleasing; boards will regulate what type of window or air -conditioner will be used.
All of the Building Rules and Regulations will be outlined in the “Alteration Agreement” and the architect will prepare a set of drawings reflecting that the renovation design will reflect these regulations.
When the board gives the go ahead, the architect will file an application for approval with the Department of Buildings which includes a set of plans and documents bearing the architects seal and signature.
In my own experience, even the most demanding and seemingly inflexible co-op and condo boards will be quite cooperative and friendly when your architect approaches them in a reasonable and assured manner. Don’t forget, these are your neighbors and they too want to have a great relationship with you as you do with them.
In my own practice, MHA, I find it really can be a win-win situation for all. Your home improvements can easily increase the value of your neighbor’s home and vice versa. I always introduce myself through a letter to neighbors, letting them know exactly what the construction schedule is and that their own investment will be protected.
From start to finish my own turnkey method will manage the renovation and soothe your neighbor’s nerves by managing all of the following:
-Obtaining all regulating documents from the co-op including the Alteration Agreement
-Preparing the required project documentation, including scope of work
-Reviewing local zoning laws
-Building submittals including correspondence and meetings with the board and their representatives.
-Establishing New York City Department of Building requirements and filing for the necessary approvals
Reviewing the contractors schedule to comply with mandated deadlinesn and coordinating with contractor, building manager and neighbors
Coordinate and manage construction review periodically during Construction, issue meeting notes to owner and contractor.
Upon completion verify to the Department of Buildings and the Co-op or condo board that the project was completed according to the architects plans.
With planning and foresight a coop or condominium renovation can be accomplished simply and with a minimum of stress.