Navigating the Potential Pitfalls of Condo/Co-op Apartment Renovations

  |   By Tracy Peterson

Among the most common issues we see are disputes regarding condominium and cooperative apartment renovations. Many – though, not all – such disputes can be avoided by following some best practices.

If you are an owner seeking to undertake a renovation, familiarize yourself in advance of the condominium’s or cooperative’s renovation guidelines. In all likelihood, you will need to submit a renovation application for approval by your board. Engage reliable and seasoned professionals to assist you with this process and be sure to include all aspects of the work you intend to undertake. The next step is exercising patience. Remember that your board is comprised of volunteer members who (a) are duty-bound to make decisions that redound the benefit to all owners, (b) may have jobs or other commitments that prevent them from making your renovation a number one priority in their lives and (c) like you, are relying on the advice of professionals to guide them. Once your renovation proposal is approved, be sure to keep the work limited to what has been approved. If it turns out that once you have begun the project, certain deviations from the approved work are desired or necessitated, seek and obtain approval for same rather than going forward, hoping that such deviations will not be detected and the board will not stop your work.

If you are a member of a condominium or cooperative board, the best way to protect the property and all owners is to ensure that your condominium or cooperative has a robust renovation application packet, complete with clear direction to owners who wish to undertake a renovation. The board also should engage a reliable and seasoned architect or engineer who can undertake a timely review of a renovation application, make recommendations to the board and oversee the work, as indicated.

The renovation process can be fraught. Achieving a delicate balance between an owner’s desire to create a “dream home” and a board’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all owners and the value in their investment in the building can have its challenges. By following the above best practices and obtaining professional advice along the way, you will be off to the right start.