Renovating a co-op? How to get your plans past the board

By Virginia K. Smith  | July 24, 2014 - 11:59AM

Renovations are always a delicate subject in co-op buildings, and if you're hoping to make the process as painless as possible, you'll want to approach your board exactly the right way.

You'll need to sign an alteration agreement, or a contract stating that you'll follow code-related and legal requirements. Most buildings have standard forms to use as a jumping off point, but as Habitat Magazine notes, there are a few key pieces of information you'll want to include in your agreement to stay on your board's good side, and keep your contractor in line while you're at it:

  • Deadline: This one's obvious, but you can't over-estimate its importance. Your board is likely to fine you (and your neighbors likely to side-eye you) if work runs long, and a deadline and schedule will let them check in on the progress of your renovation. 
  • Extension clause: If your deadline is looming and the project's dragging on, you'll need to file for an extension with your board according to the procedure laid out in your alteration agreement. (If you don't, this could spell ill will and a likely fine.) One key tip here: more and more people are having contractors sign a clause in the agreement saying that if the work runs long, they'll shoulder a burden of the fees, Habitat notes. We're a little surprised no one thought of this sooner.
  • Liability:  Should there be any damages or injuries during your renovation, you'll want to have laid out ahead of time who's financially responsible, so check in on your building's policy as well as your contractor's insurance.
  • Cost: It's helpful to disclose the full cost of your project, and also to be aware of potential fines that could add to it. Find out ahead of time and make a note of fees your board is allowed to charge if things don't go quite as planned, or if you stray from the terms of your original agreement. Having this kind of thing laid out in writing before there's a point of contention will save you--and your board--countless headaches down the road, and make them all the more likely to approve your project.


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