NYC Renovation Chronicles

A board's-eye view of your renovation wish list

By Clare Donohue | November 19, 2009 - 11:19AM
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The Situation

With his kids grown, my client was finally able to sell his Long Island house and snag the Manhattan apartment he'd always wanted. He hoped to move in as soon as the house closed, but his renovation wish list was studded with red flags––adding a laundry, central air, and a fireplace––guaranteed to slam the brakes on the approval process.

The reality is that upgrades which may be commonplace in the burbs are anything but to a NYC co-op. Knowing the difference can save you time and heartache.

Here's the Deal

Here's a thumbnail guide to the difference between no-brainers and non-starters.

• Taking out non-bearing walls
• Replacing existing laundry appliances
• Moving kitchen appliances
• Changing flooring materials
• Replacing normal windows

MIGHT GET APPROVED (or might not):
• Changing a tub to a shower
• Moving plumbing fixtures
• Enlarging a kitchen or bath
• Installing a pot-filler faucet
• Changing window ACs to through-the-wall or HVACs
• Dropping a ceiling
• Adding ceiling light fixtures
• Moving or removing an intercom
• Removing a second exit door
• Replacing chicken-wire lot-line windows with wireless glass
• Adding a gel-burning fireplace
• Combining apartments
• Enclosing a balcony or adding a greenhouse
• Adding a penthouse to a top-floor apartment

RARELY GET APPROVED (even when legal):
• Adding laundry equipment
• Replacing a tub with a whirlpool
• Creating a curb-less shower
• Installing central AC
• Adding a garbage disposal
• Enlarging a window
• Changing the position of an exit door
• Annexing a hallway or other public space
• Adding a gas or wood-burning fireplace

• Moving or altering risers
• Channeling cement ceilings for lighting
• Venting a stove or dryer within proximity of a window
• Connecting a mechanical hood or bath vent to your building's passive vents
• Choosing a commercial-grade uninsulated stove
• Altering landmarked facades
• Obviously crazy stuff, like adding a kiln (yes, people have asked!)
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