When planning to renovate, you’re going to explore all of your options. At some point you may consider weighing the need and cost of an architect or engineer when renovating your Condo or Co-Op, but the fees paid to these professionals are typically the smallest percentage of your overall budget. By engaging an architect or engineer, you are ensuring that you’re renovation ideas are not only well-implemented, but also avoid many common code violations.
- Working without a permit
Sure, permits cost money but we find it to be typically 1% or less of your construction budget. The more concerning factor for our clients seems to be the time it takes to obtain a permit. With the assumption that you live in a NYC condo or co-op, we recommend that you first contact your property manager or resident manager and ask for an alteration agreement and find out if they require you to get a permit for the work you’re planning. Occasionally, cosmetic changes and minor updates may not require a permit.
When required, permits are important because it usually means you’ve hired a competent professional to verify your apartment meets current code requirements and they’ve taken precautions to protect the common building systems. After all, if you decide to sell your apartment in the future with unapproved renovations, you may have a tougher time than expected.
- Not testing for hazardous materials
Asbestos containing materials (ACM) and lead paint are two dangerous materials that are found in older construction. If your building was erected prior to April 1, 1987, the NYC Department of Buildings requires you to engage an asbestos investigator to take samples and determine if your proposed area of work contains any asbestos. As far as lead paint goes, your contractor will need to have a lead-safe certificate as required by the Federal EPA rule for buildings erected prior to 1978. Both of these materials, if found in your apartment, require very specific regulations on disposal and should only be handled by licensed professionals. You can easily avoid some common code violations by being proactive.
- Adding a bedroom where one is not permitted
Whether you looking for the biggest “return on investment” for resale purposes, or your family is outgrowing the current living arrangements; one of the most common requests after a kitchen and bath remodel is to add a bedroom. There are many codes to consider when planning this, you are required to provide a specific amount of natural light and air to each room. Another consideration is providing heating and cooling, if your building as through wall packaged units you may not be permitted to relocate them. For these reasons and many more such as minimum size requirements, you should seek a professional experienced in this type of work to determine what your options are.
- Not meeting accessibility requirements
I often hear clients and designers believe that their building is “grandfathered” or their neighbor/friend didn’t have to comply with accessibility requirements. The fact of the matter is accessibility is a law not a code (which can be grandfathered). However, there is only one occasion where the Local Law of NYC will permit existing non-accessible conditions to remain. The rule of thumb here is if any area or space is altered, then it must meet accessibility requirements; but if you choose to keep the existing configuration of your appliances and fixtures, they can be directly replaced in their existing locations.
- Exhausting a bathroom on a kitchen vent
Some buildings are fortunate enough to have both mechanically vented bathrooms and kitchens. When considering a major redesign, it is important be mindful of the proximity to the existing mechanical vent riser as this cannot be moved. Additionally, kitchen exhausts cannot be connected to a bathroom exhaust riser and vice versa, you’ll need to consult an architect or engineer to determine your options.
We can help you create a beautiful layout for your renovation project that is functional, code compliant, and avoids the common code violations we’ve outlined here. Contact us for a personal consultation.
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