New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Neighbors Helping Neighbors

You’re in the middle of a hallway renovation that nearly got derailed. Can you tell us about it?

It’s a very small but very high-end condo building. Hallway renovations are one of my favorite projects because they really spruce up the building and give it a fresh look, not just for residents but also for potential purchasers. So we’re going all-out – new wallpaper, new tiles, new carpet. We’re refinishing all of the wood inside the building, installing lighting, and refurbishing the elevator cabs. It is essentially a soup-to-nuts project.

So things started off smoothly?

We hired a designer, and the designer put all of the specs out to bid. We had the contractors walk the building, and then the board interviewed them. The board members liked one in particular and felt his personality and style were a good fit for the residents, and they asked me to check out his work. We went to a few buildings on East 79th Street and East End Avenue, also very high end, and the work was really impressive. We got references from the board presidents, the superintendents, and also from managing agents.

And the board gave this contractor the green light?

Yes, and the board asked us to negotiate the contract. In the midst of reviewing the terms and conditions and preparing a rider, I noticed that the contractor had inserted a clause that the building would be responsible for providing a bathroom, lavatory and storage for the crew. Now, that was a really big hiccup because he had walked the building, we had interviewed him, and never once was this raised as an issue. This is a fully utilized building in terms of the common areas, and there is no full-time staff. We have a part-time porter, and there’s definitely no bathroom and no storage at all.

What happened next?

We went back and forth for about two weeks, and the contractor made it clear that he didn’t feel it was his responsibility to pay for a port-a-potty and get a permit to have an outside container for storage. It wasn’t part of his base bid calculation. At that point, the board was ready to move on and go with the second con-tractor it had interviewed, who had come in at a lower price.

Is that what the board did?

I told the board that we’d already come this far and it was worth it to try and find a solution. I went to the building next door, a very large, full-service building where I happen to know the superintendent. So I made an arrangement for the contractor’s crew to use the staff facilities there. And then I also went to the managing agent and asked if we could rent a section of the parking garage so our contractor could store materials there.

So, problem solved?

Yes. We also forged a wonderful relationship with that building. Of course, we’re going to thank the superintendent with a well-deserved gratuity. The project is now 90 percent done, and there have been no issues at all. It just goes to show that it pays to expect the unexpected and think outside the box.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

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