Alteration Issues Private Projects Need Board Approval

It’s no secret that residents in co-ops or condos can be a fickle bunch, and many times decide to undertake a repair or remodeling project themselves, without going through the proper channels. 

Maybe it’s a new owner who wants to make major changes to his home to make it a better fit; perhaps it’s a long-time resident who buys an adjacent unit and wants to knock down some walls to make one big unit; or an owner could just be sick and tired of his flooring and wants to do something new.

In each of these scenarios, the first step should always be petitioning the board for permission, but often, people get tired of waiting for a response and decide to forge ahead and hire contractors themselves. This can lead to numerous problems.

“In dealing with renovation requests, the board is engaging in a balancing act between the clear benefits of renovation to the risk of the building,” Bruce Cholst, a partner with New York City-based law firm Rosen Livingston & Cholst LLP. “Risks could be damage, disturbance and the prospect of legal liability.”

Howard L. Zimmerman, AIA, founder and principal of Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C., says each building should have a proper building alteration agreement in place.


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  • Help! alterations to common areas. Does the board make that decision or does it take a vote by residents. If by residents, where do I find this info?