Thinking about buying a fixer-upper or doing some work on your New York apartment?
Renovating an apartment in New York City can be a challenge in many ways. If you’re thinking about taking advantage of a lower priced fixer-upper or thinking about some work on your current home, there are some important things to consider.
I often work with Interior Designers here in New York City assisting with construction documents for the their projects. Many times owners purchase apartments with the intention of replacing kitchens, bathrooms flooring etc... However, they fail to take into account the larger context around their project.
Almost all coops require plans to be submitted to the Board for approval before work can begin. Many time Boards enlist an Architect to act on their behalf to ensure that all building standards and codes are met prior to approval.
While not every condition can be foreseen here are some simple tips that may prevent unwelcome surprises when embarking on renovations.
Before you begin work:
1. Know the Rules:
If you’re thinking about doing any work, make sure you get a copy of all building rules and regulations related to home improvements. Many buildings have strict rules regarding the hours of when work can be done, building protection, deliveries, trash removal, repainting of public hallways, fees etc… All things that can significantly increase the cost and length of your project . These costs should be factored into your overall budget when considering your scope.
2. Ask a professional:
A) Make sure you enlist the help of an Architect or Designer to review the rules and regulations when you’re discussing your plans.
B) If you’re thinking about a remodel, have your Architect or Designer inspect the area of work to determine whether there are any red flags that may need attention before you begin.
C) If you’re buying an apartment, ask an Architect or Designer for advice. They may charge a fee, but a little cost up front can save a lot in the future. Or better yet, have an inspection done if you can.
3. Work with the Building Management:
Find out from the building management if they require any upgrades to the existing plumbing, electrical or HVAC services. Often when your work involves older building systems, the building will require you to upgrade them. This is quite common with old or obsolete electrical panels, wiring, plumbing lines and HVAC controls.
4. Get first hand knowledge:
If you can, ask someone in the building about their experience. You can learn a lot from others and people are usually happy to share their stories, both the good and the bad.
5. Get referrals:
Find out if there are preferred contractors who work in the building either from neighbors or the management. While it’s best not to rely on only one or two contractors for bids, those who have experience in the building can be useful in knowing the hidden eccentricities and working with management. However, always be sure to ask for and check all references before hiring your contractor.
Buying a home to fix up or renovating your current home can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of making it your own. And with some careful planning and research upfront you can reduce your risk of encountering most unwanted surprises.