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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Make Sure Systems Fit the Building’s Needs

Jeffrey M. Weber
President, Weber-Farhat Realty Management

Make Sure Systems Fit the Building’s Needs

Setting the Scene

For over 30 years, we’ve managed a co-op in the Columbia University area of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. About 25 years ago, the co-op installed a “state of the art” intercom system through the telephone lines. Today, if you’re younger than 35, you probably do not have a landline, so if you live in this co-op, it’s not state of the art: it’s nothing. You do not have access to the intercom.

Following the Action

The buzz around town was to go wireless, so the board asked us to investigate the pros and cons of such a system. The first problem we faced was that the building has a great number of sublets, mostly Columbia undergraduate and graduate students. That means there is a substantial change of tenancy almost every semester. Going wireless would have meant having to list at least four individuals per apartment on the intercom panel in the lobby. It’s a 53-unit building, so having over 200 names that change every six months didn’t make sense. So the board decided to go “old school” and re-install a wired system, even though it was more costly.

To reduce the period of construction disruption, we ran the lines in the hallways. We had to re-plaster and paint, but it was easier doing that in the common space than in each individual unit. In the apartments themselves, it took about a half an hour to drill a hole through the wall and set the unit up; the damage was minimal.

Doing It Right

In such situations, you must ask: does the system fit the building? Even though the buzz around town is to go wireless, for this particular building, it just did not work. The needs of the building did not call for it. Bottom line: everyone now has a video intercom system.

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