Marianne Schaefer in Bricks & Bucks on November 20, 2019
The 166-unit Park Briar co-op in Forest Hills, Queens, needed to replace its leaky, 35-year-old windows – all 1,325 of them, plus some doors for units with terraces. The massive job began with baby steps. “First, the engineering firm gave the board several options for different kinds of windows,” says the co-op’s property manager, Scott Soifer of Charles H. Greenthal Management. “The board chose double-paned windows. Then the engineer created a detailed project manual that went out to bid, and the board met with the three lowest bidders.”
So far, pretty standard. Then the shareholders’ personalities came into play. “This building has a lot of strong personalities and is not an easy place to manage,” says Soifer. “The owner of Liberty Window Group was just the perfect kind of fellow we would like when interacting with our shareholders. He was very likeable.”
Board president Tamara Jacobi and the other six members of the board call these outspoken shareholders “frequent fliers” because they have a tendency to fly off the handle at regular intervals. “The frequent fliers are the unhappy campers who are very vocal, but that’s okay,” Jacobi says. “We on the board think that every complaint is relevant and should be taken into consideration.”
Liberty Window Group offered to work directly with the frequent-fliers and other shareholders on scheduling window removals and installations – a tricky and time-consuming task the other bidders wanted to leave to the board and management.
Like most capital projects, this one had hiccups. The manufacturer, Graham Windows, delivered the windows three and a half months later than promised. “We wanted to install the windows right after the summer,” says Jacobi. “Now we had to do it in the dead of winter.”
Another hiccup came when the old windows were removed. “We noticed that there was no waterproofing at the bottom of the window openings,” says Soifer. “The engineer felt that waterproofing would be essential, and we negotiated a price to include the waterproofing.”
Originally, the board planned to replace the windows only in residential units, but then decided that the professional offices needed to be done as well. “This should’ve been included in the original scope of work,” says Soifer. “The esthetic wasn’t uniform and those offices belong to shareholders, who should be entitled to the same treatment as the residential shareholders.”
The new double-pane windows provide significant noise reduction, but residents could opt for a different kind of glass that provides even better noise reduction – at a cost of $245 per window. Several shareholders whose units face busy Queens Boulevard plunked down the extra cash.
The logistics of such a massive job go beyond removing and replacing windows. Shareholders also had to remove window treatments, air-conditioners, and furniture before workers arrived. Board and management provided a list of contractors who would prepare the units, then put everything back together after the work was done. Shareholders could also enlist staffers for help, at their own expense.
Thanks to rigorous planning, the work went smoothly. “Despite the scope of work, no individual apartment was inconvenienced more than five to eight hours when the windows were replaced,” says Soifer. “That was it.”
The co-op had previously refinanced its underlying mortgage, beefing up its reserve fund. The $1.5 million window replacement was paid with the reserves.
“It was unfortunate that we had to do it in the dead of winter, but now everybody is really happy with their new windows,” says Jacobi. “Even the frequent fliers.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – ENGINEER: Dynamic Structures. INSTALLER: Liberty Window Group. MANUFACTURER: Graham Windows. MANAGER: Scott Soifer of Charles H. Greenthal Management.
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