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Using Your Roof, and Other Creative Tips to Make Elevator Replacement Easier

Ronda Kaysen in Board Operations on January 24, 2013

New York City

Jan. 24, 2013

Ask residents to avoid moving in or out of the building during that period. If a move does have to happen and one elevator is still working, place a porter in the elevator to keep it running to other floors when the movers aren't using it. But, by and large, property managers try to keep moves from happening during the upgrade. "We try to avoid it like the plague," Anton Cirulli, managing director of Lawrence Properties, says of move-ins.

Hire extra porters and doormen — or schedule more hours of overtime for the ones already on staff. Let residents know when extra staff will be available to help carry groceries or strollers upstairs. If elderly residents need help climbing stairs, an extra porter could help. Expect to budget for the extra hours. Non-union porters can cost about $12 to $15 per hour. Union porters cost more, especially for overtime. A building is likely to spend about $300 a week on overtime, depending on its size. 

Finally, condo and co-op boards should consider the roof as a possible access to the stairs. If residents can use a different elevator to get to the rooftop, they can walk downstairs, which is easier than walking up. Sometimes, you can find unusual solutions. Five years ago, for instance, an Upper West Side co-op had its only elevator modernized. David Goodman of Tudor Realty managed that building and the neighboring co-op. He worked out an agreement between the two buildings so residents could take the other building's elevator to the roof, cross over it, and then walk down the stairs of their own building. Goodman placed a porter on the roof to assist residents. The manager says he was able to negotiate the relationship by encouraging a good rapport between the two properties.

"It's quid pro quo," he notes. "We try to encourage neighborliness and friendship between buildings… sort of committing to cooperation."

Robert Schaeffer,president of D&D Elevator Maintenance, used a similar bridge technique at a Westchester co-op that had two elevators, one for each wing of the property. Residents in the wing without a working elevator took the other elevator up to the roof and then walked across a temporary wooden walkway that the property constructed to make the walk easier. Some properties build temporary covered walkways, he notes.


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