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The Difficulties of Renovating in NYC

Perry Hiiman: NYC is One of The Toughest Cities to Renovate

One thing I’ve learned from my experience is that New York City is one of the toughest places in the country to renovate. This is why we decided to open NYKB in 2002. We set out to create a company that would specialize in overcoming these NYC-specific obstacles and facilitate the process for our clients. Each year presents new challenges and obstacles for my team and we continue to learn and improve our process daily. I believe that as a homeowner, it’s good for you to be prepared as well. Here are a few things you might encounter while renovating in New York City. Please keep in mind that our goal is not to discourage you from renovating, but rather provide you with knowledge that will allow you to start your renovation with a general idea of what it takes to build in NYC.

Perry Hiiman: Dealing with Your Co-Op Board and Their Rules

You might think getting the co-op board’s approval will be easy. But let me tell you, you’d better be ready for an extensive list of questions and requests. You will need to know all of their guidelines up front, or it could really slow you down. For example, many buildings only allow construction during certain times of the day. Some even limit it to specific months of the year, fining you if your job is not completed by a specific deadline. The board will also request to approve your contractor and will often ask for your remodeling plans up front. This is why there is a huge advantage to work with a design and build firm who has experience dealing with co-op board officials. An experienced renovation firm will usually catch any discrepancy prior to submitting your application and can recommend changes early on to expedite the architectural planning stage. An experienced firm will also connect with key players in the early stages of your project to find out all the rules and procedures for each specific building. This usually saves you time, money, and any unforeseen setbacks.

Perry Hiiman: Permits and Other NYC Specific Renovation Obstacles 

Renovating can be exciting but there are certain issues that can often make it seem like a tedious task. Before you open your project, you’re likely going to need a permit to remodel your space, and NYC has some of the strictest building codes in the entire country. This is an obstacle, but one that can be overcome fairly easily with the right tools.  At NYKB, we have specialists who deal with permit acquisitions every day to expedite the permit process. We also manage the architectural design of your job, which is vital. I have found that this type of experience and control is extremely valuable during the permitting process, allowing it to go much smoother. This is extremely important, because even a small mistake when applying for a permit could set you back months. Keep in mind that inspections are often required to gain your permit, and if you have failed to pass these inspections, you’ll find yourself dealing with your co-op board multiple times!

Perry Hiiman: Working in Older Buildings

 I love New York! It just has so much character, a lot of which comes from older buildings and architecture. But while they are great to look at, these buildings can sometimes be a nightmare to renovate. Trust me, I’ve worked in hundreds of them, and they present many challenges. For starters, most pre-war apartments in NYC are small, which can limit remodeling choices. However, a creative contractor will know just how to maximize space in your small apartment, coming up with unique solutions. Another difficult thing about renovating in older buildings is that you just plain don’t know what you’re going to get when you open up the walls. You might find plumbing and electrical issues that do not meet meet city codes, or even asbestos, which our team will test for and remove if present. After you have completed all of these changes, you will still need to verify and pass an inspection before you can close your walls back up. While all of this might sound like a long process, it can be achieved easily with the help of an experienced renovation firm.

Perry Hiiman: How Can a Full-Service Firm Help? 

Most Full-Service Renovation Firms in NYC have Project Managers (PM) dedicated to resolving issues prior to a scheduled inspection. Please be aware that even the most experienced construction teams can often miss small details that prevent you from passing your inspections. However, if your PM is experienced and has been diligent along the way, you should be able to pass without any major problems. At the very least, an experienced PM will be present during an inspection and make any minor tweaks necessary to get the approval of the specified agent. Again, as with anything, having an experienced team member to overlook the project is extremely crucial.

Lastly, you will want to verify that you will not compromise the structural integrity of your building when knocking down walls. Open floor plans are becoming extremely popular in NYC, and the removal of walls can often lead to unexpected consequences. Having a PM and architect on hand could be the difference between completing your project on time and having to make expensive repairs to strengthen the integrity of your unit. While full service firms tend to be slightly more expensive, they truly do simplify the process by having a dedicated team member there along every step of the way.

Perry Hiiman: In Conclusion

As you may have discovered, renovating in Manhattan can be a difficult task without the proper knowledge or experience. Because of our long standing reputation as one of Manhattan’s best renovation firms, our goal is to assist with all stages of your project. If you’re thinking about renovating in the New York City area, and would like to receive more information regarding your specific building requirements, my team at NYKB Kitchen & Bath would be more than happy to walk you through the first steps. Best of all our design consultation is absolutely free. Just give us a call to schedule yours today (212) 242-3500, or click here to fill out our online form.

Feel free to share this article with any friends who might benefit from this information. I hope that this Blog post serves as a quick resource but I encourage you to reach out to a professional that can help answer all of the tough questions in further detail.

Sincerely,

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