Don't underestimate proper planning when aiming for a summer renovation.
September 12, 2023
Aiming For A Summer Renovation? Here’s The Best Time To Hire A Contractor
We all know timing is everything, but that's especially the case if you're trying to renovate your NYC home while away for the summer.
Summer is peak season for those planning large-scale renovations in New York City. Whether looking to upgrade a pre-war apartment you’re about to close on, overhaul your current co-op, or embark on an ambitious apartment combination, there are various reasons tackling these ventures when the days are longest is optimal. But before formalizing next year’s renovation plans, remember that timing is key, and so is the team you choose. In this article, we'll explore why summer is a popular renovation season, the importance of early planning, and how to find the right firm for your NYC renovation.
Summer offers greater flexibility for homeowners. With kids out of school and vacation plans on the horizon, it's often easier to coordinate a renovation that doesn't disrupt your daily routine from June to August. However, remember you’re not alone with this request, so don’t expect to lock in this priority window without others vying for that coveted summer slot.
In some exclusive buildings, renovations may be restricted to the summer months when most residents are away. Co-op and condo boards often require larger renovation projects to be completed during this season to minimize disturbances. When considering a renovation, we recommend speaking with your board as soon as possible to understand if any stipulations are in place that may dictate your timeline.
Good weather is conducive to large scale exterior projects. Contractors can work more efficiently and you won't have to worry about weather-related delays (think extensions, roof decks, cement work). Plus, longer daylight hours in summer boost productivity and reduce the need for artificial lighting. For townhouse and brownstone renovations requiring exterior work, this consideration can be crucial.
Planning ahead is crucial when aiming for a successful summer renovation. Here is a rough timeline, based on the gut renovation of a 1,700 SF apartment in Manhattan.
Allow a generous timeframe when choosing the right contractor for your renovation, as the process involves several crucial steps. These include everything from reviewing the portfolios of various firms and building baseline rapport with those who make sense to taking the necessary time to make adjustments and finalizing budget decisions. More on this process below.
Once contracted with a firm you’re comfortable with, the planning process starts. When working with a full-service design-build firm, this includes interior design planning, architectural accommodations, material selection and sourcing, and all that falls in between. This period is also when we would be handling all the architectural design approvals with the DOB on your behalf, along with all permits. For large renovations, you're going to spend at least four to six months planning. When encountering more exclusive buildings or difficult management companies, the expectation should be at least six months.
Once design decisions are determined and all permits plus approvals are in place, the production phase of your renovation can begin. Demolition leads the way, clearing space for a fresh start. Initial inspections ensure everything aligns with standards. Framing and carpentry establish the structure, while any electrical and plumbing updates are accounted for while walls are open. Updated finishes and fixtures transform the space, while finish carpentry and fixture installation add final touches. Inspections and walkthroughs ensure everything meets code. Finally, permits are closed and sign-offs obtained, ensuring compliance and readiness to move in.
With any large scale apartment renovation in NYC, there are potential outlying factors that may extend the timeline.
Selecting the right contractor is perhaps the most critical step in your renovation journey. Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:
Take your time to research and interview contractors. Begin by thoroughly researching various firms, delving into their portfolios and past projects to assess their capabilities. Look for companies with a track record of success, positive client reviews, and a commitment to collaboration. Follow this by conducting interviews to get a deeper understanding of their approach, expertise, and compatibility with your vision.
A serious contractor will spend time with you to understand your project's unique requirements before issuing a proposal. Do they come visit your home or potential purchase and get a first-hand feel for the project? They should. This initial interaction sets the tone for the entire renovation process and a strong willingness to help you assess the feasibility before signing a contract should confirm their commitment.
If you haven't lived in the space you're renovating, consider that no one knows your family's needs and preferences better than you. Collaborating with your contractor to incorporate personal insights into the design is integral to maximizing the footprint of your dream home.
Be prepared to engage in thoughtful discussions and entertain proposals, fostering a collaborative environment where ideas are exchanged, refined, and tailored to your specific needs. Take the necessary time to make adjustments and finalize decisions, ensuring that the chosen contractor aligns seamlessly with your renovation goals.
Be ready to pivot if necessary. Delays, unforeseen challenges, or changes in your vision can occur during a renovation. A skilled contractor should be adaptable and able to find solutions.
In conclusion, if your goal is to renovate during summer, start vetting contractors the prior September-October to give yourself ample time for the extended process and any potential delays. Consider the scope of your project, building requirements, and potential delays. Choose a reputable contractor who can guide you through the process, and don't forget to incorporate personal and unique insights into the project's design. With careful preparation and the right team by your side, your summer renovation dreams can become a reality.
We are an award-winning design-build firm in New York City with a full-service approach to renovations in Manhattan and Brooklyn that includes everything from interior design and architecture services to filing permits and construction management. We’re experts in pre-war apartment renovations, apartment combinations, room creations, full gut renovations and all that falls in between.