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You've Just Upgraded Your Elevator — So Why Doesn't It Ride More Smoothly?

Frank Lovece in Board Operations on May 24, 2012

12 W. 67th Street, New York City

New York City Elevator Safety Code Mandates
May 24, 2012

What Contracts Don't Cover

"You have a contract with an elevator company for maintenance that says basically that the elevator company, at its own cost, will fix the elevator and keep it running," says veteran building manager Gerard J. Picaso, president of Gerard J.Picaso Inc., "except for the [specifically listed] things like doors and buttons that can be vandalized or broken accidentally."

And so whereas condo and co-op boards and their managers generally used to know in advance when things like cable would have to be replaced and start a budgeting item, says Picaso, "Now, you really can't do that with these new rules, especially since there's nothing grandfathered in. All of a sudden, you get a list of things you have to do, and it's expensive, and the boards of directors say, 'How come we're spending money for an elevator-maintenance contract when we have to do all this work and pay for it separately?"

Safe at Home

No one, at least, disputes the need to have elevators be safe. "A lot of these new city regulations they're enforcing are very good," says management executive Michael Wolfe, president of Midboro Management, citing in particular the requirement for a safety bracket on horizontally sliding doors. The new code requires two guides on every door panel plus a third safety bracket.

In fact, no one disputes inspectors calling even for more prosaic fixes, such as covering bare light bulbs or installing a ladder in the elevator pit at the bottom of the shaft. "Our freight elevator hasn't had a ladder in the pit for 80 years and now all of a sudden we've got 30 days to put a ladder in the pit," says Grant Varga, a longtime board member at the 13-story prewar co-op 12 West 67th Street, near Central Park — who nonetheless concedes a ladder could help someone escape if they'd fallen in.

Overall, believes Breglio, co-ops and condos that can afford to "should really look into upgrading the elevator, because if the [mandated upgrade] work is extensive, you may be throwing $10,000 to $20,000 away on a Band Aid if two years later you have to [renovate] anyway."


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