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By Combining Two Jobs, Co-op Board Cut Down on Soft Costs

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Facade Inspection & Safety Program, roof repairs, insulation, soft costs, co-op and condo boards.

By repairing its roof and facade simultaneously, the board in this co-op saved money on soft costs.

June 14, 2022

As part of our ongoing Problem Solved series, Habitat spoke with Leon Geoxavier, senior project manager at Howard L. Zimmerman Architects & Engineers.

The challenge. We were working on a project with a lot of terrace replacements and a roof replacement. It went on hold because of the pandemic, and then it was a slow restart because of the difficulty of ordering materials and getting back to work. Then we started coming up on the ninth cycle of the Facade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP), and we started having a conversation with our client. Should we hold off on the roof project so that we could do the facade repairs, and then come back? Or should we intertwine the two jobs?

Cost considerations. So we started to look at the calendar and we started to say to our client, "Well, if we have to file our FISP report by this date, we really should do the exterior repairs by that date. Maybe we can do the facade program in conjunction with the roof program, find a way to intertwine the two using the same contractor and not having to deploy the sidewalk shed twice, or get a separate permit. Let’s try to do it all at once." That really saves a client money in terms of mobilization — sidewalk shed, scaffolding, permitting, engineering. The downside, of course, is that it's a bigger price tag for a board to manage all at once. So that was definitely a consideration. On the other hand, instead of going through another competitive bidding process, we could use the same contractor.

Overcoming resistance. Our hearts went out to the terrace owners, who were going to be without terraces for even longer if we combined the projects. First we had said it was going to be a few months for a terrace replacement, and that extended to over a year because of the pandemic. And now we were saying, "We need to have scaffolding set up on your terrace even longer." So yes, the terrace owners bore the brunt. But as part of that, looking at the big picture, we were trying to say, "Look, this prevents us from coming back again. This prevents us from disrupting you twice. Hopefully if we do it all at once, we can be out of everyone's way sooner."

A domino effect. One last thing. With a lot of roof and terrace projects lately, insulation has been a really big concern. Many older buildings didn’t have any insulation, or if they did, it was modest. Now, because we want to increase energy efficiency, we use more insulation — or thicker and more expensive insulation. And that causes a little bit of a domino effect. Do the terrace doors need to be raised because of the new insulation? Do the railings need to be raised? What do we do with the drains, and how do we accommodate thicker insulation around them? The maze that you have to work through has become a lot more complex.

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