Floor plans

Anyone who has ever done a major renovation knows time is elastic.  I closed on my coop in a prewar building on the Upper West Side on October 7th.  I hired an excellent Brooklyn architect, who happened to be another woman of about my age, and a friend, who had done a number of coop renovations, and she began design work almost immediately. The design process was actually quite expeditious, helped by the fact that we have very similar design philosophies.

The plan was to remove the maid’s bathroom and enlarge the kitchen, install new cabinets and appliances, remove a wall that the prior owners had built in the second bedroom, run new electrical wiring throughout the apartment, put in a washer/dryer, paint and finish the floors.  The architect told me the actual physical renovation would take about 3 months.  What was uncertain was how long the coop board and the NYC Department of Buildings would take to approve the plans.

By the time I moved out of the Brooklyn brownstone and into my temporary rental apartment, the plans had been approved by the building’s architect, which was the first of the mandated approvals. That process took a solid 2 months. By the 2nd week of January, the plans had made it to the inbox of a plan examiner in the Manhattan Office of the DOB.

It took another three weeks for the Manhattan plan examiner at DOB to approve the plans and finally issue the building permit. All in, it took 3 months just to get the plans approved both by the building and the City DOB.  I have been told by some veterans of Manhattan renovations that that is lightening fast.

The next square on the board was signing a contract with the general contractor.  I chose the contractor primarily because he and the architect have worked amicably together in the past. It helped that his bid for the job was one of the lowest of the four we got.  He also took us to see an apartment on which he had worked about 7 years ago, which held up extremely well.  Both owners had only glowing remarks about him and his crew.  They also told me, “how the entire building staff loved him”. Those are magical recommendations in Manhattan apartment buildings where renovation time is slowed or hastened by a cooperative building staff.

After the contract signing on February 9th, I had a starting date for the renovation– Wednesday, February 15th. Now, finally, there was progress for the actual 2-1/2 months the contractor said he would need to finish the work.