How to keep apartment renovations from going off the rails


October 27, 2022

Establish the exact scope of work. The key to preventing an apartment renovation from becoming problematic is first knowing exactly what work is being done. A simple cost breakdown of the work and a sketch on a napkin, which are often subject to our review, do not clearly define the proposed work. When it is not clear exactly what the scope of work is, a renovation should never be allowed to begin. We’ve seen countless buildings fall into a cycle of allowing renovations that they considered “decorative”, like renovating a kitchen or a bathroom, only to then move on to expanding. wet area, relocation of plumbing and gas appliances, channeling of the structural slab to run electrical conduit and other items for which the council did not sign off.

Keep a professional eye on major jobs. There should be a change agreement in place for each renovation, and this agreement should state that the engineer or council consultant must review and approve each major change before permits are filed and work begins. Boards and their property managers cannot be expected to know the ins and outs of every new Buildings Department (DOB), but an engineer or consultant can ensure compliance with city building code and specific building regulations, including items that require council approval, such as wetland expansions, l installation of washers/dryers and hot tubs, structural work, garbage disposals, etc.

Over the past few years, we have seen a decrease in in-person and scheduled inspections, resulting in an increase in the number of emergency site visits we were called to do after inappropriate work was discovered by accident. In the age of technology, virtual site visits via video conferencing are a great alternative to arranging for all parties to be present at the same time. Photographic documentation can ensure that the work has been done correctly and that these areas do not need to be reopened and reworked. If problems persist after these measures are in place, we recommend scheduling frequent on-site inspections by the consultant or council engineer to ensure that the renovation stays on track.

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Define your terms. What is a “major” job? Painting of rooms, new millwork and new cabinetry/countertop installations are all examples of minor renovations. Changes in layout, plumbing and electrical work are basic examples of major renovations, which can also extend to more important elements, such as exterior works, structural works and modifications to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Many buildings classify flooring replacement as “minor” renovations, but we disagree. soundproofing is a major area of ​​concern, especially in older buildings with timber-beam construction – and especially now that so many people are working from home. It is also a DOB requirement to include specifically rated sound insulation under all new floor installations. If the kitchen floor is removed, waterproofing also be installed below? Older buildings may also have asbestos in the mastic/adhesive of the original floor covering, which must be properly leveled. These questions should be asked and answered in advance so that there are no questions once the renovation begins.

Review, review, review. We recommend that school boards regularly review and revise their amending agreement. If possible, we recommend that the board ask their consultant or engineer to write comprehensive change rules and then ensure that the owner or shareholder and their renovation team have access to the requirements at ‘advance.

The end of the game. When a modification agreement is up to date, when its terms are clearly defined, when the scope of work is well documented and the work is rigorously inspected, a renovation project evolves from a hindrance to a benefit for all parties. .

Gene Ferrara is the president and Chris Ferrara is the director of renovations of the design office JMA Consultants.

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