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Can my co-op make me get rid of the old stove that came with my apartment?

By Virginia K. Smith | April 11, 2016 - 11:59AM 

My wife and I just purchased a co-op, with an old commercial Garland range, and a kitchen hood vent that exhausts through a window facing 7th Avenue. (It's not directly up against a neighboring building, and we're high up enough that it doesn't vent out onto pedestrians on the sidewalk.) We'd planned to keep the vent as-is, but our super is pushing us to upgrade and get rid of the vent. Does city building code restrict this kind of vent, or is this just an issue with my board?


Unfortunately, your board is in the right here, say our experts. As it's currently set up, your stove's vent violates city code, and must be changed.

"Venting a cooktop, commercial or residential, with an exhaust grille that is placed within a window opening in an apartment building is simply not legal," says David Yum, an architect with Bolster, a 4-year-old NYC-based company (and, FYI, a Brick advertiser) that matches homeowners to reliable contractors and architects. "This type of exhaust must be placed at least three feet away from any existing window opening. 'Upgrade' is not the right term. Legalizing the exhaust means routing it to a location away from the window."

To remedy the situation, you'll need to move the stove's vents away from the window, says Yum. "Alternately, you could remove the duct, free up the entire window opening, and use a re-circulating hood," he adds. "A number of powerful, high quality hoods come with a recirculating kit from manufacturers like Miele and Broan." Depending on factors like your apartment's ceiling heights, the work could cost around $3,000 to $5,000.

To avoid buying into this kind of hassle in the future, Yum recommends that your purchase contract include a stipulation requiring that all alterations have been done legally and with a DOB permit "that has been properly filed and closed." In an older building where changes might have been made prior to the current seller's ownership, it might be wise to walk through with an architect before you buy to spot any potential problems. With standard architect rates of around $200/hour, this precaution will cost you around $800, much less than the price of unexpected future repairs and renovations.

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