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Co-op Redesign Checklist


Renovations always take time, patience and an understanding of the process. Urban renovations are particularly complex due to the issues inherit in living in major metropolitan areas with an inordinate amount of building regulations. Co-op renovations, however, have their own set of rules. City dwellers in co-op arrangements may save time, money and lots of frustration by following a basic checklist for renovating a co-op.

  1. Determine your cost window. Permits, an architect, a contractor and miscellaneous fees may all add up the perfect storm for a renovation that goes over budget. Develop ranges for costs for each phase of the renovation and add a realistic cushion that you are willing to live with.
  2. Interview and/or communicate with all the potential stakeholders before making a decision. A preliminary conversation with the head of the co-op advisory board is a great start to get the basics on a renovation in your particular co-op. Find a list of licensed architects and contractors and follow up with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints regarding their service. Ask questions about timeliness, experience with co-op renovations and the architect/contractor interaction. Specifically, will the architect hand off drawings to a contractor and walk away or be actively involved in the building process?
  3. Understand the co-op approval board process. You’ve had an informal meeting with the co-op president, but now it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of the process. Are there renovation rules regarding co-op modifications including specific windows of time when renovations are implemented, areas that can’t be renovated and any additional requests from the managing agent of the building? Drawings will most likely be required as part of the review process, so your time line to complete drawings should be negotiated with the architect to reflect this deadline.
  4. Complete the permit process. In New York, the Department of Buildings manages this process. There are over 30 steps involved in the process and more if your building is a landmark. There are also additional inspections required if the building was built before April of 1987.
  5. Update your timelines. There are always minor wrinkles in the process where one process takes a little longer than anticipated. Avoid these when possible, but communicate changes and updates to all your stakeholders (architect, contractor, building superintendent, co-op board…) on a regular basis. Challenges are easier to overcome when everyone has a heads up.
  6. Talk to your neighbors. In a co-op, renovations can inconvenience you and your neighbors. Providing neighbors with face to face updates and the opportunity to ask questions is a good step in letting them know that you understand the inconvenience and appreciate their patience.

If you are ready to take the next step in your co-op renovation, please contact us.