Gail Eisen was combining two apartments in her Sutton Place co-op in March when the coronavirus prompted the shutdown of all nonessential construction work. Now her project is back up and running, and the sound of her contractor’s saws and hammers, she tells The New York Times, “is music to my ears.”
While some co-op and condo boards require only that contractors and their crews hew to the state’s mandatory and “best practices” protocols – which cover protective equipment, temperature checks, hand washing, social distancing, sanitizing and much more – many boards have created their own documents for contractors to sign.
At some buildings, once workers are on the job site in the morning, they must remain there for the entire day to limit foot traffic. Some are trimming the number of hours that crews can work. Many co-op and condo attorneys have attached COVID-19 riders to standard alteration agreements. One Upper West Side co-op has two dozen provisions, including an addendum that allows for modification of the project schedule “taking into consideration that other occupants are working and/or schooling from home.” A condo in the West Village is directing contractors to disinfect the service elevator and service entrance three times daily, a cleaning that must include misting with an electrostatic sanitize sprayer to neutralize germs.
However effective electrostatic spray guns may be, some boards are wary about reopening their doors to contractors. Thus, some boards are giving the green light to work that was in progress before the shutdown, but they’re putting the kibosh on new renovation projects until next year. Some buildings are restricting the number of projects that can go on at any one time. Others are limiting the scope of alterations – allowing small projects like paint jobs and cabinetry installations, but giving a thumbs down to alterations that require demolition.
“People think (Gov. Andrew) Cuomo is the highest authority,” says Marc Kerner, a general contractor and owner of Infinity Construction, “but in New York City, the co-op board is the highest authority. And some boards are nervous.”
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