What To Know About Renovating A Co-Op In NYC

Prepare for a co-op renovation in NYC with our complete guide on what to expect throughout the process.

June 6, 2023


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What To Know About Renovating A Co-Op In NYC

What makes renovating a co-op different from any other property in NYC? Read more to find out.

Table of contents

Purchasing a NYC co-op with the intent of renovating it prior to moving in is one of the most common renovations we take on at Gallery. Given the age and condition of most NYC co-op’s plus the demanding boards, city rules, and management companies is what gives many buyers  angst and creates obstacles that could cause your dream home design to be adjusted. At Gallery, we excel at co-op and condo renovations in New York City, and have outlined various considerations below to provide proper expectations for anyone about to navigate a co-op renovation in NYC. 

[#Navigating]Navigating the Co-Op Board Approval Process[#Navigating]

Co-op renovations in NYC have plenty of red tape and come with added bureaucratic details to account for before any alterations can begin. 

Alteration Agreement

Once you decide upon a co-op renovation, the first step is to request an alteration agreement from the building management company. In short, an alteration agreement provides rules and governs renovations in the co-op building. It is set up by the co-op board and management company to ensure everything needed for the renovation is up to code, including insurance requirements and various technical elements. 

What's Inside An Alteration Agreement?

Alteration agreements typically contain all of the following information:

  • Times of work and noise hours
  • Duration of a renovation (sometimes buildings only allow for 90 days or 120 days, after which a penalty is incurred)
  • Requirements for plumbing and electrical work
  • All insurance document requirements
  • Specs of all plumbing and electrical fixtures to be used
  • Requirements for asbestos and lead testing along with abatement requirements
  • Description of factors that trigger architectural plans
  • Requirements from your contractor

Virtually every co-op in New York will require compliance with the alteration agreement prior to allowing your renovation project to commence. The process of satisfying the alteration agreement on larger projects such as complete gut renovations, apartment combinations, or multi room remodels can be lengthy and time consuming, highlighting the importance of having an expert navigate the process. 

Dedicating the time and effort to make sure everything in your alteration agreement is picture perfect prior to submission is essential to a seamless approval process. At Gallery, handling alteration agreement submissions is one of our specialties, which will ensure your project approval process runs as smoothly as possible. Board rapport is important because co-op boards and their reviewing architects will often provide a laundry list of adjustments required before work can begin - which we always help our clients work out appropriately. 

Living area from a Manhattan co-op renovation in the UWS. View the full renovation before and after.

Layout Changes

When planning the architectural design for your upcoming co-op renovation, the following caveats should be kept close in order to properly anticipate any specifications that may restrict specific layout changes:  

Wet-Over-Dry Restrictions 

Wet-over-dry restrictions dictate whether or not you can physically relocate what is deemed a ‘wet’ area (typically, a bathroom and kitchen) over a ‘dry’ area (the bedroom or living room of your neighbor directly below. Typically, this is not allowed in most NYC buildings. 

Plumbing Risers

Plumbing stacks dictate whether or not you can open up certain walls in kitchens and bathrooms. Pipe systems in most NYC buildings run vertically and horizontal movement is often frowned upon by co-op boards, due to the potential for disruption to other tenants. 

Alteration Permits

When making layout changes during your condo or co-op renovation, you will need the proper work permit from the NYC Dept. Of Buildings. There are two types of permits: 

  • Alteration Type 1: Required if there will be structural changes made to the building - which would be rare in most common co-op renovations and applies to more significant speciality jobs like an apartment combination. 
  • Alteration Type 2: Required during any renovation that requires work behind the walls, including replacing old electrical wiring, re-routing lines, plumbing updates, etc. A type 2 permit is needed in the majority of our condo and co-op renovations in NYC. 

In certain circumstances, if proposed layout changes from our clients are being disallowed by the co-op board then we’ll petition the co-op board to make an exception. We will only do this in certain cases, if we feel it’s a genuine and worthwhile possibility.

Outdoor patio from a Manhattan apartment combination in Greenwich Village. View full renovation before and after.

[#Planning]Costs and Timing Planning[#Planning]

Budgeting For A NYC Condo Or Co-Op Renovation

The total cost of any NYC condo or co-op renovation depends on existing site conditions, design aesthetics/preferences, and the actual scope of the project. However, a good rule of thumb for an entire co-op renovation in NYC, including our comprehensive full-service approach, with mid-to-upper tier finishes is $250-$450, per square foot.

A co-op or condo in that range has good bones. In NYC, a number of common factors can increase costs. The most prevailing cost modifiers when renovating apartments in NYC include:

  • Pre-War Apartments: $350-550 per square foot
  • Estate-Condition Apartment: $350-550 per square foot
  • Adding HVAC / True Central Air: $400+ per square foot and up 
  • Relocation Of Plumbing/Creation Of New Wet Spaces: $300-400 per square foot, depending on the extent 

Carrying & Temporary Housing Costs 

Beyond base renovation costs and any cost modifiers, make sure to consider potential carrying costs and temporary housing costs. If you’re taking on a significant renovation to your condo or co-op and staying in the space isn’t an option then you'll need to find somewhere else to stay amidst the demo and build portion of the renovation, which often leads to added costs. This could also require temporary storage for your belongings. 

Kitchen from Manhattan co-op renovation on the UWS. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Choosing]Choosing A Contractor For Your NYC Co-Op Renovation[#Choosing]

When renovating a co-op in NYC, there are various routes you can go - each with their own advantages. See how our design-build approach compares to competitive renovation models: 

Design-Bid Firm Vs Design-Bid-Build Firm

A true design-build firm like Gallery offers a full-service renovation package for clients who value a partner with one main point of contact to oversee the entire process. Alternatively, a design-bid-build firm delivers a more piecemeal approach that allows for more flexibility, but essentially makes the client a project manager. Read a more detailed breakdown of the two approaches via Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build: What’s The Difference? 

Design-Build Firm Vs Architect 

When taking on a full apartment renovation, the traditional approach has been to hire an architect, who draws up plans and handles the design work. They then bid out those plans to various contractors. The architect will act as your agent, often managing project construction too. This does not come without fees, as architects typically charge an additional 20% of the construction price to manage the contractors. 

Design-build firms, on the other hand, offer a similar approach - without having to bid out plans to multiple contractors AND without the added 20% architects charge. With a design-build firm like Gallery, everything is done in-house. Our architect draws up the plans while the design team handles the space planning, finish and fixture component of the project, then our team does the build and construction - all overseen by our in-house project manager and construction manager, who ensure all finer points meet your specific expectations. We design the project, and then we build the project. 

For more on the topic, read our full blog on Design-Build vs. Architectural Firms.

Living area from Manhattan co-op gut renovation on the UWS. View the full renovation before and after.

Why Gallery For Your Co-Op Renovation In NYC?

With so many variables to consider when renovating your condo or co-op, hiring a knowledgeable full-service design-build firm in NYC that can successfully streamline all the moving parts is vital to a successful end result. At Gallery, we strive to continually provide the best client experience possible via the following core principles: 

Board Approval And Permit Pros

We take on the responsibility of handling all red tape involved in co-op renovations in NYC, at no additional cost. This includes reviewing and satisfying a board’s alteration agreement, filing all relevant architectural plans with the Department Of Buildings, and procurement of all necessary permits. 

Extensive Planning To Avoid Unexpected Costs & Change Orders 

With a full-service team of design and construction professionals experienced in the complexities of NYC co-op renovations, our all-inclusive design-build approach makes change orders and mid-project budget adjustments much less likely.

Constant, Clear Communication

One of our core principles is keeping an open line of communication at all times. We do this by offering regular site visits and phone calls, plus a mobile project management app to track all the steps of the job, material selections or questions, and anything else to discuss. You know what we know – every step of the way.

Are you looking to renovate a co-op or condo in New York City? Learn more about Gallery, view a portfolio of our co-op and condo renovations in NYC, or contact us to begin consultations on your own co-op renovation.

Marketing Director

Ben Bowdonhttps://www.gallerykbny.com/authors/ben-b

Ben Bowdon is the Marketing Director of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. For over a decade, Ben has navigated the ever-changing landscape of online marketing, delivering digital strategy solutions for companies of all sizes, until finding a permanent home with Gallery. As lead brand champion and curator, the proud Western Michigan Bronco strives to deliver thoughtful, industry-leading expertise to Gallery’s esteemed clientele via the most seamless omnichannel experience possible.




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