NYC Condo Renovation

What You Need to Professionally Renovate a NYC Condo or Co-Op

December 14, 2011

The most important decision made when deciding to begin a NYC condo renovation is the selection of the architect and the contractor. Professional architects design detailed specifications and blueprints necessary for the contractor to create the type of remodeling desired by the owner. Suggestions for choosing a good architect include:

Only hire an architect who has a college degree as well as an extensive portfolio exhibiting past blueprints and pictures of finished work
Professional architects will not only ensure that your specifications are included in blueprints but will also try to reduce cost at all phases of the renovation when creating the design
The architect should be aware of any restrictions regarding certain building regulations and zoning laws in your area
Search the American Institute of Architects’ website to find local chapters of professional architects whose names will be listed in the phone book or on the internet.
Obtain at least two or three quotes before deciding which architect to hire

Some architects specialize in designing particular renovations, such as adding entire rooms or creating a basement that will be used as a living area. In addition, a NYC co-op or condominium may need you to file your intent to renovate with the NYC Department of Buildings. A knowledgeable architect will know that he will not be allowed to solely certify the result of his blueprints. This means a 50/50 probability exists that the NYCDB will inspect the renovation after it is completed.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor

Before hiring a contractor, obtain at least different three bids and then ask:

If they have a license to contract in New York state
If they are insured and bonded
How long they have been established in the area
If they specialize in certain projects
Do they provide “green” or affordable materials and techniques?
Do they handle several different projects simultaneously?
How do they remain in contact with the client? How often?
Are they capable of efficiently managing requests for change?
Does the company offer warranties?
Clean-up and safety procedures?

Beware of contractors who:

Want to take shortcuts
Offer ridiculously low bids
Want paid in cash and upfront before the renovation is completed
Have questionable references or negative remarks filed with the Better Business Bureau
Neglect to show licenses when asked several times
Does not offer a contract that protects both the client and the contractor. If necessary, take the contract to a lawyer to verify its validity

Don’t be surprised if a NYC renovation project takes longer than a similar remodeling procedure implemented in a private residence located in Long Island or Queens. This is due to the fact that condos and co-ops may be closed to contractors because situations beyond anyone’s control–holidays, people moving in and out who restrict elevator use for others and elevators in need of repair. Eventually, the job will be completed and rushing the contractors may result in inferior work resulting in the need to redo the whole renovation.