Managing Exterior Repairs Advice From a Legal Pro

Leaks are a common problem in multifamily buildings, including co-ops and condominiums. It’s not unusual to see watermarks and dampness on plaster near or below interior widows, but since such infiltration usually stems from an issue on the exterior of the building - including the roof, cornice area, and other locations - repairs are neither easy nor quick, and are often left unaddressed until there is Local Law 11-related facade work being performed from the outside. 

Homework Ahead of Time

Organizing and coordinating these repair projects requires a lot of time, energy and funding. In order to run smoothly, exterior work also requires a lot of planning in advance. Let’s say a building has leaks on the roof and cracks in various other locations. The building will need to first retain engineers to survey the building and ascertain the extent and scope of the work that needs to be done. In addition to a contract, plans and specifications will need to be drawn up, and bids will need to be obtained from contractors for pricing. The final plans will also need to be approved by and filed with the New York City Department of Buildings before work can legally commence. 

Even after all of this advance work is done to prepare, it’s still quite common to find ‘hidden conditions’ on a project that require additional work - and money - that’s not accounted for in the plans or the budget. Therefore, when money is allocated for a project, additional funds must be set aside for these inevitable contingencies. Sometimes securing those funds means refinancing an underlying mortgage. In those instances, the advance planning may take over a year - which is why you sometimes see a building in obvious need of repair, and may wonder why no work has been done. The answer may be that the owner or board is still trying to arrange for the financing - though that’s not really an excuse for delaying needed maintenance or repair.

A Necessary Inconvenience   

Since exterior repair work is by its nature hazardous and will take a while to complete, most buildings will need to have a sidewalk shed and other protective measures in place to protect the public and workers from any falling debris. Sheds are part of the overall cost of a project, and usually extend 20 feet or so past the building being worked on, onto the adjacent property or properties. 

Despite the obvious need to ensure the safety of passers-by and work crews alike, sidewalk sheds are often met with hostility by neighboring buildings and commercial tenants who may claim that the structures block their view and/or signage, and discourage foot traffic. 

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