Smart co-op and condo boards have their attorneys draw up alteration agreements that must be signed by every shareholder or unit owner who wants to renovate or combine apartments. Since the board has taken this protective step, the person undertaking the renovation needs to take the following self-protective measures, advises C. Jaye Berger, principal at Law Offices C. Jaye Berger:
1. Read the agreement before you hire a contractor. A client of Berger’s asked her to review an alteration agreement she was on the verge of signing – though she hadn’t even read it. “She didn’t realize she had 60 days to complete the work, which didn’t seem like enough since her last renovation project took four months,” Berger notes.
2. Get the timing of the work in sync with the alteration agreement. “Your contractor has to agree to a time frame that fits in with what the alteration agreement allows,” Berger says. “And if the work runs past the agreed upon deadline, you need to make sure the contractor is responsible to pay the per diem charged by the building.”
3. Insurance, insurance, insurance. “The board demands a certificate of insurance that names the board and the managing agent as additional insureds,” Berger says. “Likewise, you want to make sure you have it in writing in the contract that you’re named as an additional insured by the contractor.”
4. Avoid costly delays. Once the work begins, the clock starts ticking, so it’s in your best interest to have your architect or designer draw up specific plans and arrange for a timely delivery of all required materials and appliances. “If you don’t,” Berger says, “you risk delays in the project while these details are worked out.”
5. Get a pro to manage the job. “It’s not a good idea for the shareholder or unit-owner to manage the project,” Berger says. “You need a professional – usually an architect, engineer, or interior designer – to do what’s called ‘contract administration, ’coming by periodically to keep eyes and ears on the job. You need someone who’s there for you.”