By Ananth Robert Sampathkumar, Partner—NDNY Architecture + Design
Your first renovation project can either be a wonderful adventure, an expensive endeavor or a slow burn through hell. Preparing yourself before taking on such a task can save time, money and even reverse the accelerated aging process that construction projects tend to inflict. Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind before you begin.
Picking the Right Property: The renovation process begins from the moment you start scouting for the right fixer-upper. Dan Gottlieb, Founder and President of Digs Realty, suggests the following: “If you’re expecting to salvage anything in the apartment, make sure that it is in good shape to save, relative to the rest of your renovation. Many buyers decide to re-finish the floors instead of replacing them, but they rarely look as good as a new floor and diminish the appearance of an otherwise beautifully renovated home.”
Read the Alteration Agreement: One of the most common queries that comes up early on is about adding bathrooms or widening kitchens. Mary Chandrahasan, Partner at NDNY Architecture + Design, suggests reading the Alteration Agreement carefully, which will usually note whether owners can extend wet areas (i.e. kitchen, bathroom etc.) over dry spaces. Knowing this before you make the down payment on the apartment can be vital.
Renovation Costs: Owners usually budget for hard costs (i.e. material, labor, finishes, fixtures). Few plan for soft costs like architect fees, building and inspection fees and contingencies. The soft costs can easily add 20% to a budget and this can often make or break a project. Understanding all the costs involved in a renovation can greatly reduce the stress of financing your project.
Timeline: There are several bottlenecks to renovating, including the Board Approval process, Landmarks approval in historic districts and unforeseen discoveries during construction. Most clients want to reduce their carrying costs on two properties, and careful planning can shave two to three months off the renovation timeline. One simple way is to start the design process during the period between contract and closing. While there is a small risk that the project may fall through, the progress made on the design side usually outweighs any consultant fees that are paid out if the deal goes south.
Contracts: This is one of the least appreciated parts of the renovation process. It is imperative to have a good contract with your Architect or Design professional and with your contractor. Contracts that are well written ensure that the designer and contractor understand their obligations and perform their duties in a timely manner.
These are just a few of the big things to keep in mind while undertaking a renovation.
To learn more, come join us on 7 December from 3:30pm to 7:30pm to get a comprehensive overview of the renovation process. Search for “Renovating in the Big Apple” on Eventbrite.com for location and detailed program information.