Renovations are sometimes a must, no matter if you have only lived there for a year or if it has been a long time. However, by living in a Co-op there is a list of rules and regulations that you need to follow and that includes renovations. Here are some questions you need to ask and the information you need to know before starting.
Can I even renovate my NYC Co-Op?
The answer to this very important question lies in your property lease. Reread your lease and that should tell you the guidelines you need to follow. Every property has slightly different rules but here are some general alteration guidelines that are pretty standard for co-op association renovation approval.
- Removing or adding walls – If you want to do any change to the layout of your unit will require approval. Even if the removal of the wall between your kitchen and living space seems simple, speak with your board before starting.
- Electrical or plumbing updates – If your project involves any wires or pipes it will need the board's approval. The more pipes or wires that are hidden under the floor or ceiling the harder it will to get approved.
- Any Full Updates - If you are trying to completely update a kitchen or bathroom be prepared for a lengthy approval process. You will need to provide every detail and may have a deadline to get it done. This deadline might come with heavy fines for you if your contractor misses the deadline.
No Approval needed
- Painting - This normally doesn't need approval but definitely before painting you should check with your building manager just to be sure.
- Small Cosmetic Changes - Switching out small details like faucets or showerheads normally doesn’t need approval. But if your building is LEED certified, make sure the new fixtures meet the standard requirements.
- Hanging Wall Art - Most people assume this is a small change but make sure you ask before you drill holes in the wall. Some Co-ops don't allow you to drill any holes in the wall.
How to get approval?
Be aware that even though there aren't that many steps to get approved it still might take some time. The first step is to contact your co-op’s managing agent. You don't have to go to the board yet since the managing agent will be able to provide you with the updated list of building's alteration agreement. Then if your alterations require approval, write a formal letter to the board outlining your proposed work. In this letter, you should inquire if consent is required and if there are any other details you need to provide. Some buildings require contractors to be licensed and insured and may have guidelines about what time of year renovations can occur. You also may even have some fees associated with your project.
As long as you are following your buildings alteration policy then it should be approved. If the board wants anymore information make sure that you provide it as quickly as possible.
Speak about renovations before buying your co-op - By making sure that you understand what is allowed with renovations going in to buying your co-op then it will save you many questions later. Also if you are buying an older co-op and know that you will need to renovate, think about adding your renovation plans with your application.
Seek approval before doing anything - This is incredibly important. Even if you make not think you need approval, still speak to the building manager. This will save you a lot of trouble if you do end up needing approval.
Find the right contractor- Always hire a contractor. If you know your board will need to approve your renovations, having a contractor can help you come up with plans and the proper details to share with them.
Have a plan and a backup plan - Having multiple plans in case something goes wrong is very important. You can never predict how a renovation will go. It could be a minor or major issue so make sure that you have multiple different plans. Have less expensive options if your budget gets out or control or have lodging set up elsewhere in case you miss the deadline and you’re without a bathroom or kitchen for several days.