New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



What Lies Ahead: Professional Services

Cowley Engineering

Eric W. Cowley, President

30 Years in Business


The requirements for safe buildings and parking structures are, in my view, a good thing. There is a ramping-up in expense due to the more stringent inspection requirements, but I believe this will level out.


Czarnowski & Beer, Accounting

Avi Zanjirian, Partner

35 Years in Business


Local laws have required buildings to focus on not only operating longevity but capital longevity. Working with our clients to budget for capital projects and how to fund them through assessments, financing or other means has been a constant point of conversation, and I don’t see it going away.


CTA Architects

Dan Allen, Principal

35 Years in Business


The biggest portion of our work with co-ops relates to the Facade Inspection and Safety Program requirement for more close-up observation as well as probes of postwar cavity-wall buildings. In certain circumstances, we can substitute nondestructive testing for costly and time-consuming invasive probes. We also encourage boards to take advantage of personnel lifts (bucket trucks) to allow for up-close facade observation, which can accomplish the same careful evaluation of facade conditions in far less time than would be required for traditional hanging scaffolding.


Douglas J. Lister, Architect

Douglas Lister, Principal

25 Years in Business

Post World War II buildings with masonry cavity walls will need to do more expensive facade maintenance. The Department of Buildings (DOB) has a new requirement, starting in the current inspection cycle, that probes and inspections of these cavities be performed every 10 years. So a building that passed the last inspection may require a lot of work after the probes are made and reported to the DOB.


Folson Group

Tina Larsson, Owner

7 Years in Business


With energy-efficiency codes becoming stricter as they evolve, Local Law 97 is the ultimate gut-punch for co-op and condo boards. LL97 may be well-intended, but the financial impact for noncompliance could be catastrophic for co-ops and condos. It is estimated that 80% of all New York City buildings will be fined, absent major changes, by 2030. There are many options to reduce a building’s carbon output. Some of the options are smaller and easier to implement, but they have less of an impact. Larger retrofits like replacing the heating plant, which accounts for the majority of a building’s carbon output, will require a comprehensive plan. It can be overwhelming, but engaging qualified consultants will alleviate that burden.


Howard L. Zimmerman Architects & Engineers

Howard L. Zimmerman, Owner and Founder

40 Years in Business


Because of the onerous Scaffold Law in New York State — the law that holds employers and property owners fully liable when an employee becomes injured due to a gravity-related fall — the cost of exterior restoration work will continue to increase. Insurance costs for exterior restoration contractors used to be 3% to 5% of their annual sales, and now it’s 12% to 15%. This cost is being passed on to the buildings.


JMA Consultants

Eugene F. Ferrara, President and Owner

42 Years in Business


The violations, regulations and constraints placed on building owners — facade inspections, garage inspections, elevator upgrades, energy grades, climate compliance, gas testing, more stringent scaffold and construction codes — is just staggering. Let us not forget inflation and added taxes. We may be at that breaking point that we saw back in the ’70s, where building owners just cannot afford to own and maintain their properties.


Mackoul Risk Solutions

Edward J. Mackoul, President

35 Years in Business


With larger claim payouts and more generous juries, the days of high-limit insurance umbrellas at a low premium are over. Boards may not be able to get high limits when they need them the most or may have to pay three or four times more for them than what they are paying now. The programs that write high-limit umbrellas for co-ops and condominiums are in turmoil.


Kipcon Engineering

Mitch Frumkin, President

35 Years in Business


The most important thing happening within our industry is the necessity to keep our buildings safe in structural and other life-safety-related ways. The inspection and maintenance of building structures relies on building owners, and as an engineer I see problems every day with buildings that continue to get worse as they age. While repairs may add more ongoing costs, it is much less expensive to fix things as they age than to wait until they are unsafe.


MJM+A Architects

Ryan Scipione, Senior Partner

46 Years in Business


Safety regulations and administrative filing procedures are becoming more stringent and require more involvement from building owners. Facade Inspection and Safety Program reporting cycles, yearly garage inspections and Department of Housing Preservation and Development requirements are only the tip of the iceberg. Each property is unique and comes with its own challenges. By engaging a licensed architect and/or code professional and being proactive with compliance and analysis, building owners can avoid violations, fines and major repair costs in the future.


RAND Engineering & Architecture

Stephen A. Varone, President

35 Years in Business


It is critical to plan ahead to meet compliance deadlines as increased demand for architectural, engineering and construction services, coupled with supply chain disruptions and COVID-19 shutdowns, will likely result in longer lead times for inspections and project delays. Reserve studies and physical condition surveys, which are performed by licensed architects and professional engineers, can help boards make informed decisions, plan for capital improvements and adequately budget for them in the short and long term. Of note, Local Law 97/19 compliance should be prioritized, as it involves a multiyear process to identify and implement energy upgrades, and boards face hefty fines for failing to comply.


Superstructures Engineers + Architects

Paul Millman, Principal

40 Years in Business


In the current Cycle 9, the Facade Inspection and Safety Program has become far more stringent. The greatest impact on co-op and condo budgets is the stipulation that close-up examination (“drops”) be conducted at maximum 60-feet spacing along public-facing exterior walls. Large buildings that required only a single drop in prior cycles may now require 10 drops or more. Our advice to owners: Stay ahead of the curve. Perform restoration work on a regular basis. You’ll be able to file a “Safe” Critical Examination Report at the completion of the restoration campaign. A bonus: Scaffold drops performed during restoration can count toward the required drops, so it’s an efficient approach as well.


SYMS Insurance Agency

Michael Schwarz, President

6 Years in Business


The umbrella insurance market is a complete disaster right now, and we see this continuing for a while. Just a few years ago we were able to secure a $100 million umbrella policy for a 100-unit condo association for approximately $2,500; now it’s more than $10,000 for the same coverage. We are also seeing the most nonrenewals by carriers we’ve ever seen. If you have building violations or a large general liability claim or are in any other undesirable situation, you may end up paying 10 times the price for 10% of the coverage.

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