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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



An Action Plan for Gas Shutdowns

We manage a co-op that was built in the 1920s and has about 170 apartments. A shareholder renovated an apartment, and it required an inspection by the Department of Buildings. During their inspection they identified an issue with some original piping that was in a different part of the building. The DOB shut down two gas lines, which affected about 30 apartments and the building’s laundry room.


We met with the board right away to discuss the situation and formed a team with some board members, the resident manager and management to work on the project. One of the first things that we had to do was work with the building’s plumber and a mechanical engineer, because some of the repairs would be touching mechanical spaces. The team went through the building and developed an action plan. They submitted it to the DOB, and we’re still waiting for approval.


In the meantime, we’re proactively pressure-testing the gas lines that were impacted here so we can identify any other areas that need to be addressed before the gas can be put back on, which is typical in projects like this. It’s another example of how the timeline and the scope of work are not always known when you’re dealing with unexpected, unplanned problems in a building. And when you do find other issues, you have to evaluate different ways to address them. It may involve opening walls to get to pipes or relocating different components. 


And so again, that teamwork, working closely with the board and all the professionals and management, as well as keeping everyone informed, is just so important. This board has been terrific and is sending out email updates as the situation evolves. We also recently had the annual shareholders meeting, which was a great opportunity to continue to inform people exactly where everything stands and let them know about the future communication that will be coming their way.


We’re now several months in, and because we don’t know the scope of the work, we don’t know what the cost will be. But this building has planned and prepared themselves for unexpected projects like this. They started a capital assessment back in 2005, and though it’s very small for most shareholders, it’s been going on for so long that it’s really helped build up the reserves. They also refinanced the underlying mortgage. Combined with the assessment, it’s put the co-op in a place where it has the money to deal with a big project like this, along with facade work and lobby and hall renovations and all the other types of work that are needed in large buildings like this. They’re a great model for other boards to follow.

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