Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert: Renovating in an about-to-be landmarked building

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
June 29, 2011 - 2:10PM

Q.  I'm renovating my condo and putting in central air, which requires cutting through the exterior wall. The board has approved the work, but my building is in the process of being landmarked, and cutting through the walls would not be an option if it were already landmarked.  My question is, what if the landmark approval process is completed after the work on the exterior walls but before my Certificate of Occupancy is issued? Could I potentially have to undo the work?

A.  Forget about undoing the work--in your situation, you can't even begin without landmarks approval, say our experts.

"If the building is in the process of being landmarked, it is subject to the same Landmarks Preservation Commission requirements as an existing landmark building or a property located in a designated New York City Historic District," says Paul Grissett, the expediting manager at RAND Engineering & Architecture. "Therefore, the building will have to get approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before the resident can begin the work, even if the building hasn’t been landmarked yet."

All is not lost, however, as your exterior wall work may nevertheless get the go-ahead.  Approval for through-wall installation of central air components (or standalone through-wall a/c units) is doled out on a case-by-case basis, says Grissett.

"Approval is more likely if the wall penetration isn’t being made on a primary or street-facing facade," he explains. The preference, he says, is for it to be "centered under a window with a grille flush mounted to the masonry and finished in a similar fashion." 

Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions. 

Meet our Experts


Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.