Taking care of residents during an elevator replacement

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Q. I'm on the board of a co-op planning to replace its only elevator. The project will greatly inconvenience the residents, especially those who are elderly or may be unable to climb stairs, especially with
packages, etc.

The project manager assigned by our managing agent doesn't seem very proactive. So far, only one letter has been issued, announcing the timeline, with one call for anyone needing help buried in the 6th paragraph.

Are there more effective ways to communicate that allow for residents to voice concerns and the project manager to discuss concrete ways in which the building will help while the elevator is out of service? And shouldn't the project manager have plans in place regarding the many issues which residents will likely face during construction?

A. Our BrickTank experts say it's the board's job to get the ball rolling: Ask the project manager to present possible approaches (and costs) for helping residents cope without an elevator.

A good plan might include several elements.

“We routinely assign someone at set hours to carry groceries and packages up and downstairs, and advise residents in advance to arrange for any furniture or large deliveries prior to the elevator going down,” says Roberta Axelrod, who sits on ten NYC co-op and condo boards as a sponsor’s representative for Time Equities, Inc. “Elderly residents may be offered alternative temporary housing.”

Other measures include offering to pay the elevator company extra to work extended hours or seven days per week to finish the job faster, says Michael Wolfe, the president of Midboro Management.

A town hall meeting or a questionnaire can be helpful to make sure your board understands the needs of its residents, especially those with small children and the infirm or elderly.

As far as ongoing communication, says Wolfe, “Several memos should be issued as simple reminders and giving details about the project.”

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