Even if you’re only doing what seems like a minor renovation to your apartment—adding a tub to your bathroom, moving the sink to the other side of your kitchen—you’re probably going to need construction permits.
You might be able to figure out the paperwork you need to file and the fees you need to pay on your own, but it’ll take a lot of research and a lot of time that you probably don’t have. That's where expediters come in.
“[The average person] has to have nothing else to do in his life to be able to figure this stuff out,” says Michael Genari, the founder of Grand Expediters NYC--a member of BrickUnderground’s Real.Est List resource directory and the focus of this week's Real.Est List Spotlight series.
Expediters, on the other hand, "know how to prepare all the forms, go to the right window at the Department of Buildings, and the correct fees to pay."
But the art of expediting involves more than paper-pushing, notes Genari of the Garden City, Long Island-based expediting firm.
"We have to analyze architectural plans to make sure they comply with New York City building codes and cultivate relationships with the higher-ups at the Department of Buildings," says Genari. "We’re constantly busy. This job is always stressful, but never boring.”
And despite the common misconception, expediters don’t bribe anyone.
“There’s zero tolerance for that,” says Genari. “The most you can do for great city service is to say thank you.”
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Grand Expediters serves all five NYC boroughs and typically works on a slew of projects simultaneously—ranging from pushing through permits for individual apartment owners doing small construction projects, to hotels or hospitals doing major ones, to relieving buildings of construction, elevator, boiler or other violations.
How it works
Call Grand Expediters NYC to get them started filling out the paperwork on your renovation, and to do some detective work to determine whether your chosen contractor is licensed or not.
If they can get the information needed from the architect (what the exact scope of work will be, such as how many plumbing fixtures need to be added, where a shower stall will be relocated to, etc.), Grand Expediters can sometimes get applications out the door that same day.
“We do our work very quickly,” says Genari.
Occasionally, building owners will hire Grand Expediters NYC to monitor their properties on an ongoing basis to let them know if they’ve already been the unwitting recipient of violations (and need to pay fines or make updates in order to remove them) or to simply keep track of any new infractions.
“Sometimes a tenant will do construction work without permits, but the building owner is ultimately the one responsible,” notes Genari.
Since each job that the firm takes on is decidedly different, there’s no set pricing. Call the company directly for a quote.
A good expediter…
- Is responsible: “You should know that your Department of Buildings applications and other documents are being handled properly,” says Genari. So make sure your expediter can interpret architectural and engineering plans so you can go about your business and let him sweat the small stuff.
- Doesn’t try to do everything: Some expediting firms work with the Department of Transportation. Others work with the Department of Health. No one firm works with all government agencies. Grand Expediters NYC, for example, works with the Department of Buildings, the Environmental Control Board, the Landmark Preservation Commission, the Fire Department, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “If we don’t specialize in it, we won’t take the job,” says Genari. “A brain surgeon doesn’t operate on your heart.”
- Is well-connected: According to Genari, he’s well-acquainted with a who’s who of the higher-ups at the Buildings Department. So if any unusual issues should arise while Grand Expediters NYC is doing your expediting, Genari knows exactly who to call to walk you through the problem.
- Keeps you in the loop: Whether it’s a daily phone call to let you know what, if anything, is happening with your case, or periodic e-mails sent whenever there’s a noteworthy change, your expediter should be keeping you updated. Because if you have to chase him to see if there’s anything new to report, your expediter may actually be the one slowing things down.
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