SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
nyccitychic

Help! Co-op NYC Kitchen Reno @ a Standstill - Electrical Issue

nyccitychic
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

Hi All

I will try to make this as concise as possible. My kitchen is under renovation but at a complete standstill since Tuesday. I live in a coop in Forest Hills. The renovation had to be approved by the management company and coop requiring extensive and detailed paperwork. This is my first time renovating and I am dumbfounded that I am in this situation. I definitely know that both my contractor and mgmt company dropped the ball on this. But I am not 100% sure why or how yet and had a ton of questions about who is to blame. At this point, I really just want to resolve this issue as I don’t have an end in sight at the moment until a reasonable solution is found.

The scope of work for this electrical is as follows:

ELECTRICAL- UPGRADE CONNECTIONS

• [1]-DuplexoutletforRefrigerator

• [1]-DuplexoutletfortheRange

• [1]-Duplexoutletlocatedaboveslide-outhoodcabinet • [1]-Duplexoutletwithcontrolsinglepoleswitchtosuit

undercabinetlighting

• Supplyandinstall3RecessedLEDlightingatceiling

controlledbysinglepoleswitch

• [4]-Duplexoutletlocatedabovecoimter[CONVENIENCEOUTLETS] • [1]PowerfeedforDishwasher

As per my contractor, this usually does not require an electrical permit but the management company asked us to obtain. We, of course, complied which the contractor charged me 1000 to file.

While I was away on vacation, my contractor scheduled the electrician. What they discovered was that the circuit breaker is not in my apartment and the service panels located in the basement are unmarked and there for unable to isolate one apartment.

The contractor believes the work that must be done consists of a line that must run eight floors, through the stairwell and into my apartment. Just to get a dedicated line that can meet code and pass inspection, this dedicated line will have to have its own service panel. The estimate for this work is 6500! Apparently the permit cannot be backtracked.

As per the super of our building, previously they used the existing power when a renovation was done. But no evidence of such type of work is present on the basement service panels.

The management company suggests:

1) Not move forward with the additional work and have the contractor reverse work completed so far to close out this permit.

2) Have the bldg.'s electrician take a look at this and see if he can come up with another option. Note, the cost for this will be charged back to me.

I know there are a ton of questions... about who is to blame but I need to find the quickest and least expensive solution that will resolve this issue and proceed with my kitchen renovation. I do believe the management company should have somehow anticipated this and I don’t necessarily believe this should fall 100% on me as I live in a coop? It seems the permit has opened up a can of worms on the current state of the buildings‘ electrical wiring?

Any thoughts, suggestions, and advice welcome.

Comments (59)

  • Helen
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Something is not making sense because an eight story building in New York City would need to be up to Code.

    I am in Los Angeles but to a certain extent laws governing multiunit condos/coops are similar.

    In general the condo/coop as a whole is responsible for common area issues such as electrical wiring and pipes up to your unit.

    By building's electrician, I assume they mean the company that is called in to manage the common area electrical issues. Of course you should schedule a consultation with this company as soon as possible because they would know exactly how the electrical is set up for your building. They might actually be the best people to hire to do the electrical work in your building. I am in a high rise in Los Angeles and use the plumbers and HVAC people who service the building because they are familiar with the anomalies of the infrastructure.

    I would also hire an independent licensed electrician to verify what the building's electrician says if what he says doesn't make sense. Without knowing more, I would think that it is the financial obligation of the building to make sure electrical lines in the common area are up to Code.

    Your GC appears to be an idiot if he didn't think permits were mandatory for a multifamily high rise coop in New York City. Permits are generally necessary for any kind of electrical work but absolutely critical in a multifamily residence because you are not just burning down your own house.

    I sympathize as I am currently in the fifth month of a remodel of my condo in a high rise in Los Angeles. I also had a surprise fee of $6500 for new electrical panel and wiring when they opened up the walls since my old panel wasn't up to current Code and once you open up something, it can't be grandfathered. However, in my building each floor has a closet which contains the electrical wires and cables that feed for that floor so the electrician only has to connect to the common panel on each floor. I find it very bizarre that the panel is in the basement - what happens if you trip a circuit - do you go down to the basement and try to figure out what panel controls your unit? It really doesn't make any sense.

    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • talley_sue_nyc
    5 years ago

    I live in a co-op in Jackson Heights. I called the city and was told I wouldn't need an electrical permit for work inside the co-op itself--not even changing the circuit box, moving it, etc. My building president assured me this was true, but I generally don't trust her, so I made three phone calls at three different times to cross-check. However, I am required to use a city-licensed electrician to sign off; he or she is responsible to the city to self-inspect.
    NYC can't deal with the volume of permits that would result if they required a permit for every self-contained renovation using existing wiring.
    I read your list of the outlets, etc. None of those should have required a permit.


    So I'm a little side-eying the board's requirement that you file a permit. UNLESS they knew that the building had code problems.
    In fact, I would be pointing this out to everyone on the board--by laying on their own, more stringent requirements, they have made themselves vulnerable to a code violation. (I'd be so tempted to call in the city building inspectors--let everybody fork over what it takes to set it straight, plus fines. Except they'd be pissed at you and might retaliate, plus you'd have to pay your own share of those fines.)

    BUT...your entire building needs to be to code, and if it's not, part of that is on the building.

    I don't think you need any new electrical line--you obviously have electricity to your kitchen. You just need to know which circuit it is. And this is something the building should supply.


    Now...I think it's fair to require the building to foot the bill for their electrician to label all the circuits in the breaker box downstairs, so that your electrician CAN isolate your apartment. This is the building's obligation to you--it's not something you should personally have to pay for.

    Maybe a lawyer could help you point this out to them (though, one generally doesn't want an adversarial relationship with the board or the other shareholders).


    Did the contractor file a permit while you were on vacation, layout out the plans to install this new $6,500 line? Is that the permit that needs to be backtracked? Yes, do that. And say to the building that you need them to do THEIR part by labeling the effing circuit breakers and electrical panel.

    As per the super of our building, previously they used the existing power when a renovation was done. But no evidence of such type of work is present on the basement service panels.

    What evidence would there be?
    You just turn off the circuit, and turn it back on again.


    If they don't want to label the basement panel so you know which one is which apartment, maybe your electrician can just turn everybody off for the short time that's necessary to hook up the final wiring to the actual power.

  • Related Discussions

    Appliances for Tiny NYC Kitchen

    Q

    Comments (24)
    The ice making situation with the Fagor is pretty much a joke. It comes with an ice tray which can best be described as Baby's First Ice Tray. The tray does fit safely across any of the 3 drawers and there is a storage compartment for the tiny cubes. I tried to find a picture but was unsuccessful. If you go to the AJ Madison site, look up the Fagor, go to the owner's manual, on page 12 you will see a very crude drawing of the ice tray. I believe the tray produces 12 tiny cubes. I'm not a big ice user, so that didn't impact my decision. I have kept the tray in a cupboard and have used it maybe twice. When I've had lots of people over ("lots" being relative in my small condo!) I buy bagged ice and use ice buckets. Seeing your interest in wine, did you know the Fagor does comes with a wine rack inside? I don't drink wine, so I ditched that and use the top shelf set at the higest level as my beverage center. Perfect for holding cans of soda, beer, and the 10 oz water bottles I purchase. I have stashed a bottle of wine there when needed as well. I like the GE DW. It cleans my dishes which is all I ask. It holds a lot. Compared to the antique I had which sounded like a Mack truck was revving its engine in my old kitchen, the GE is quiet. Not whisper quiet like the bigger, better, more expensive DWs, but it does not inhibit in person conversation and when I'm talking on the phone while it is in use, no one has said, "Is that your dishwasher running in the background?" The cycle is long (maybe 1.75 hours?), but I think that is the nature of an 18" DW. I may be wrong on that score. Hope this helps. Joyce
    ...See More

    nyc renovation - plans with dept. of buildings

    Q

    Comments (17)
    "....that NYC's only requirement that applied to me, working within the walls of my own apartment, is that a LICENSED electrician MUST do the electrical work..." As I said, NYC has their convoluted own code, that can be (and has been) interpreted different ways even by the Dept. of Buildings.....this is apparently the same thought process that allows the architects to self-certify...which is why there are so many problems with buidling code being "misinterpreted", whether it be by accident.....or on purpose. BY all means, call them...but,also get some sort of documentation that backs up what they tell you....and/or, document exactly when the work is done, via photos, dates, receipts, etc... We did not do that back in '87....then, when we went to sell in '99, we were told a regulation was changed in '93...and we could be "grandfathered" only if we could prove the work was performed prior. The "Big Apple"...gotta love it.
    ...See More

    Finished NYC galley kitchen on a budget!

    Q

    Comments (30)
    gooster - we thought the exact same thing! Yesterday we went out and got another white cab with open shelving and light wood top for the end of that wall - it was almost too big for the space but we managed to wedge it in there. It looks pretty close in appearance to the other two, enough that it looks fairly integrated. It looks good and will be used for the induction burner that heats the tea kettle! scrappy25 - we gave the IKEA measurements to Cabinet Authority. Unlike Semi-handmade and Scherr's, they don't keep them on file. I got the exact measurements of the fronts from IKEAfans.com. The paint is a factory finish with a very low sheen. I had an option of three whites by Sherwin Williams: Crystal White, Frosty White, and Designer White. I listed them in order by the strength of their yellow undertone, from strong to nonexistent. I went with Designer White because I wanted that stark white look. If you happen to live in NYC, I can just give you the sample color blocks since I don't need them anymore. We had to do the drilling for the fronts ourselves, except for the two doors below the sink - those got standard boring holes for the clip-on hinges. IKEAfans has the template for where the drill holes should go on the drawer fronts. It wasn't hard to do at all. Just remember to measure twice and drill once! We made one mistake and have to live with a little unevenness on a drawer front. I'm not sure what you mean by a box versus door breakdown. Do you mean drawers versus doors? We went with all drawers on one side of the galley (12 total on that side). The other side, where the sink is, got two doors under the sink and two drawers for the trash pullout (the bottom part of that cab looks like a tall door but is actually a pull out drawer). Drawer fronts are pricier to make than doors for some reason.
    ...See More

    moving to small nyc kitchen

    Q

    Comments (37)
    Wait a minute, how small is this kitchen? And how concerned are you about resale value? You don't want to get too crazy minimizing the size of things when (a) really, it all will fit, and (b) a two-burner cooktop may be adequate for you but not for anyone you'd want to sell the apartment to. My kitchen is tiny by anyone's standards, yet I have a 30" fridge and a 30" range. I have an 18" dishwasher, which is perfectly adequate - I splurged on mine and got the Miele which has a separate cutlery tray so I don't need to take up space in the bottom rack for a silverware basket. A single-drawer dishwasher wouldn't have worked for me since I didn't have the 24" width. Venting is tough as most NYC buildings will not let you vent to the outside. I have an OTR microwave with recirculating filter - not ideal, but better than nothing. If you have room to put the microwave elsewhere (or don't need one), you can put a recirculating hood over the stove - it might work slightly better than the vent on the microwave. I would *not* get a non-standard size oTR microwave as there are practically none available (even fewer models than there are 18" dishwashers!), and I would be concerned about replacing it if it broke. That's one of the reasons I didn't consider a 24" range - I couldn't find a 24" OTR m/w to put over it. You don't need to get a tiny sink. Really, unless your kitchen is way smaller than mine, you'll probably have at least a 24" sink base, and you'll be able to fit a standard size single sink. Mine is about 22" x 16" in a 27" sink base; Blanco also makes one that's slightly smaller for a 24" sink base. (I think they might have been able to fit my sink in a 24" sink base if they notched the sides of the cabinet.) Palomalou - I haven't been checking the forum that frequently - have you posted a floorplan?
    ...See More
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi All,

    Thank you all for your comments and advice are all really helpful. I really really appreciate it.

    I do want to hire an independent electrician as I do not trust either GC's electrician or building's either at this point. They both seem to have their own interests in mind. I am willing to upgrade my unit and take on this extra expense.

    However, how much if any should be a co-op expense since it seems that the entire building is in need of an upgrade? Also, after a heated conversation with my GC, I picked up on the fact that this job was mismanaged. They had a worker come in to do the work THEN the electrician reviewed and found that it would fail inspection AFTER the work was done. So he admitted to this and actually said he would be "willing to credit me" for this error.

    The other question I have is should I also consult with the building's electrician as this might be the fastest and easiest way to get any work approved?

    Thanks again all for all your time..

  • Helen
    5 years ago

    As I posted, I am familiar with California law governing condos/coops and to a lesser extent New York law as it's been a long time since I owned a coop in New York.

    A coop/condo is responsible for maintenance of common area which includes common area electrical. If I recall correctly, New York real estate sales must be done by a real estate attorney. I would contact the attorney who handled your sale to find out how NY law interprets common area electrical.

    You also need to find out whether the building's current weird system is up to Code. As posted by myself and others, I don't understand how an apartment in a multifamily home could not have a circuit breaker inside of each unit. Not an electrician but during my recent remodel I didn't have enough high ampere circuits for current Code so they replaced the panel which also contained all of the circuit breakers. On those occasions when I have overloaded a circuit with my old panel, I would open the little steel door and flick the switch to restore power.

    Your attorney would be able to let you know what Code requires or steer you in the right direction. You can also contact the City Housing Inspectors to see if it is a violation of Code. In a coop, as I am sure you know, the building is owned by the corporation which then leases units to each owner.

    In terms of diagnosing the issue, I would hire both the building's electrician and your own electrician and have them do it together so that your electrician is interfacing with the building's electrician. I am pretty cynical but at least in terms of vendors used by my building, they are pretty objective in terms of providing their expertise. Most typically, the need arises when there is some kind of leak in the pipes and so the plumber needs to determine whether it is the building's issue or an individual homeowner. Again, insofar as I know, a coop/condo is responsible for common area maintenance and a homeowner is responsible for everything inside the walls - i.e. I am responsible for pipes after they emerge from the walls and for wiring (including the electrical panel) in my unit.

    Are units individually metered?

    Get the diagnosis from both sets of electricians as quickly as possible so you know what you are faced with.

    You should also be putting the Board of Directors in the loop and not just dealing with the management company. When you get your diagnosis, send a letter to the Board and the Management company. You might want to invest in a letter from your real estate attorney if it turns out that the building is not up to Code and therefore the building is responsible for providing dedicated panels.

    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @Helen Thank you for your detailed recommendation. No, all the lines run down to the basement and they are not clearly marked at all. Thus, they are not individually metered. Electric is included in my monthly maintenance so now this makes sense.

    I have quite a bit of work to do.

  • Helen
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Renovations in a high rise condo/coop provide complexities that single family homeowners don't even dream of.

    In my condo, any plumbing requires ALL the water to be shut off for the entire building for a charge of $2000. The sinks and toilets have angle stops but major plumbing or if there is a failure of an angle stop means that water has to be shut off.

    It's been a long time since I owned my New York City coop and dealt with NY Codes. My father was a housing inspector (not a building inspector :-)) and that department is pretty good about ensuring safety and health of residents. I am not sure whether coops are technically within their jurisdiction but you can give them a call. I would personally find out as much information as possible before you go to the Board and use it as a bargaining tool in terms of the building providing whatever is necessary for Code.

    As others have posted, how in the world did the unit pass any kind of inspection without circuit breakers in the apartment.

    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    5 years ago

    I would go back to the purchase of this unit. Who did the home inspection? Why was this not called out in that inspection? It seems pretty obvious and in your face if a panel isn't in the apartment. Purchasing something with such a violation could come close to a material misrepresentation of the real estate being purchased. It depends on how the unit was described and sold.

    You need your OWN real estate attorney. NOT the one who handled the sale. Unless he was your hire directly and worked only for you, and not the seller or agent.

    nyccitychic thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @The Cook’s Kitchen. The real estate attorney was recommended by our real estate agent company. (Uh oh) I will go back to the inspection paperwork. But absolutely there was no call out made or negative result after inspection.

  • Helen
    5 years ago

    FWIW, the in New York, the buyer and seller hire their own real estate attorneys so I wouldn't assume that a recommendation means that the attorney had a conflict of interest. It's an anomaly of NY real estate law since lawyers are required to do what is typically handled by brokers/agents in other jurisdictions.

    I would first diagnose the issue by having the electricians provide their opinions and then find out whether it is permitted by Code.

    I would then go back to the inspector and determine whether they covered the issue or missed the issue and what kind of liability there might be if they were negligent in terms of their inspection.

    It's generally best to gather as much information as possible before confronting people as you are then dealing from a position of strength or at least know exactly what the actual facts are. At this point OP doesn't know what is required by Code; what the issue with the electricity actually is; how it can be upgraded to Code (both for her and the building) and what is the responsibility of the coop vis a vis the home owner.

    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • fuzzy wuzzy
    5 years ago

    Helen: "It's an anomaly of NY real estate law since lawyers are required to do what is typically handled by brokers/agents in other jurisdictions. "


    I consider the NY law and practice of using lawyers for real estate transactions very smart. For most people, the purchase of real estate is infrequent and usually the largest financial transaction they will have. Why wouldn't I want a lawyer, who works for ME, to oversee the contract, financial accounting, and transactions? I consider it well worth the money to ensure that all is well and MY interests are protected. Not all broker/agents establish an agency relationship with a buyer and so may not have the same level of legal and fiduciary responsibility that a lawyer will. I have purchased and sold real estate in jurisdictions in which real estate agents typically "handle" real estate purchases and sales. I always have my own lawyer represent me. Well worth the small additional cost relative to size of the investment.

  • Helen
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @fuzzy - I wasn't commenting pejoratively on the practice but only that people outside New York don't realize that lawyers handle real estate transactions since this is uncommon elsewhere.

    The definition of anomaly is differing from the norm and doesn't carry any value judgment and the requirement of using lawyers in New York is anomalous.

  • H202
    5 years ago

    I disagree with a few points above.

    Not sure as to NYC coop law, but in general "real estate" does not need to be to code; "renovations" need to be to code. That means if you own a house with outlets spaced 48" apart in the kitchen, and then the code is changed to require 24" between kitchen outlets, you are not obligated to add a bunch of new outlets. However, if you renovate your kitchen, you are required to do it to code, and add the new outlets.

    Now let's say you have an old house with a little tiny bathroom with a toilet 10 inches from the tub. Then the code is changed to incorporate disability act provisions, and now the code says toilets must have at least 18 inches on either side. You renovate your bathroom, and there is literally no way to fit a tub, toilet and sink in the existing small space and abide by the 18" rule. In that case, your bathroom will be "grandfathered" in so long as you use the same footprint.

    Finally, almost (but not all) jurisdictions do NOT require real estate to be "up to code" upon a sale. That means buyers and sellers are free to negotiate among themselves and accept the risks of not-up-to-code work. Buyers may want to request that sellers confirm that any renovations they performed were up to code. But almost no jurisdictions require sellers to confirm that the house is up to code. Think about the first example above: it would be crazy to require a seller to add new outlets to the kitchen, since that kitchen was to code when it was first done. However, if the seller renovated the kitchen, didn't pull permits, and failed to put in enough outlets, a buyer may want to negotiate that point.

    So with all that said: It's possible your coop is actually to code - you'd have to check. If your coop is old, it is entirely possible that it is not to current code, but was to code the last time it did any electrical upgrades. In which case, there is likely no legal obligation for them to upgrade the electrical to make it to code. It is also therefore possible that your unit is not in violation of any code -- because if no one has done any electrical upgrades to your unit, there was no time where they were required to upgrade to code. Accordingly, there was likely no negligence of your inspector - since it's quite possible your unit is not in code violation.

    I also agree with some other posters who said that certain in-unit electrical upgrades may not require permits.

    I'd bet that your building was at some time to code, the code changed, and any other unit owners have confronted your exact situation. They were told they needed to pay $5000 to bring a panel to their individual unit (or pay some other electrical upgrade), and decided not to do it. So the can got kicked down the road.... Your building likely has no obligation to upgrade the unit unless they do some common area upgrade that requires a permit. Therefore, upgrading the building electrical (labeling each breaker, or getting panels in each unit) is probably just something your coop would need to vote on and use joint funds for (assuming coops work somewhat like condo associations). But if it's just you having this immediate issue, my guess is they'll likely just kick the can again....

    In sum, you likely just inherited a lousy situation that many of your building-mates have faced and quit. If you want to do it, you probably just need to suck up a big cost. That happens with home ownership. Every time we've done a project (we're on house 4 in 15 years) there are unexpected permitting costs that we just have to eat. They often happen midway through the project, so you can't not do them.

    That said, a real estate lawyer might tell you that you can get the coop to pay for the wire run to your unit. But the coop isn't likely going to have to pay for labeling and re-wiring the existing panel, or putting panels in each of your units.

    I'm not an expert or a NY coop lawyer - but my thoughts.

    nyccitychic thanked H202
  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    5 years ago

    "You can also contact the City Housing Inspectors to see if it is a violation of Code."


    Not so fast, please. You want to bring inspection in on your terms and the only way that's happening is after your independent electrical contractor has armed you with information. He may also have a good working relationship with inspection which could keep them from red-tagging the whole thing.

  • _sophiewheeler
    5 years ago

    “The Co-Op” IS the OP, and other building dwellers. And this is going to need to be tackled as a whole, sooner rather than later. If this was converted in the 50’s, it might be grandfathered in. But, I doubt that’s the case. Sounds like an illegal 80’s conversion.

    nyccitychic thanked _sophiewheeler
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The contractor just called me and told me that the electrician is cancelling the permit and want to reverse the work done. Can they do this without asking me? I asked him to put it into writing and refused to and said that they don’t need to ask me? Since I paid for the permit and have a contract for this work, isnt this something they should first notify me before doing and at least get my approval to proceed?? Does this negatively impact against my property?

    I asked him for a couple of days to figure out next steps. But he keeps saying he needs to pay the electrician and that this is inevitable. But likely we could still proceed with an update and ideally would like them to do the work (after tonight I am not feeling great about him/them). I just need time to figure it out. It’s in my best interest!!! I don’t have a kitchen!

    This situation seems to be getting worse...

    Does anyone know how long before inspection happens?

  • Helen
    5 years ago

    H202 - While I am not an expert in NYC real estate governing coops, the requirements for multifamily dwellings in metropolitan areas like New York City are quite a bit different than for single family homes because the safety impacts a high number of people as well as buildings on either side which often share common walls in urban areas.

    And certain requirements are not grandfathered in at sale. For example, in California plumbing has to meet certain water restriction requirements and homes can't be sold without fully operational smoke detectors.

    The issue of who is responsible for maintenance issues in coops/condos is complicated - especially with the kind of issue that is being raised by OP which if I understand correctly means there is literally no electrical panel/circuit breaker system in her unit. Again, I don't understand how this can even be viable since one would be unable to reactivate a circuit if one happened to have blown the circuit.

    And one can't know how other people handled electrical work in the coop because people can choose to completely ignore safety and building regulations and if management isn't diligent, it's difficult to police. I live in a condo where there were periods when construction/remodeling was a Wild West and so lots of stuff was done by rogue homeowners including taking down asbestos popcorn ceiling without hiring remediation specialists. I have no doubt that some of these people did electrical work that isn't up to Code and didn't get permits for.

    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @talley_sue_nyc I totally missed your post (first day back at work from vaca and trying to deal with this mess!).

    In fact, my contractor was insistent on the fact that he normally does not need to file permits for the work being done to my unit. He has 8 jobs going on right now throughout the city.

    I have been trying to figure this all out and the one thing that confuses me is why would the mgmt company ask for a permit knowing this might happen and that it might open up the entire building to an issue they might not want to deal with? Or maybe they do want the coop board to finally resolve and stop “kicking the can” as someone else said.

    As far as the upgrade, i know I need to fork over some more money to resolve and get it up to code but absolutely the building has partial responsibility... it’s just hard knowing how much. I am not sure why our electrician said we needed a new line but I’m sure this is something the buildings electrician will know since the super wasn’t able to clearly explain and everything is currently unmarked. But I believe we need to have a circuit breaker in my unit or at least on my floor? I definitelty need a lawyer and to get the board involved once we determine what is needed.

    The permit was filed after we submitted all the paperwork to the board with the assumption that my unit had a dedicated line and box in unit. The 6500 estimate was technically not approved and the mgmt company then provided the two options.

  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @tatts I actually found the comments really useful? You don’t have to keep reading this thread. This is a real life problem for me not some random question about what color couch would match my rug.


    And in case you failed to read my post or even deal with any building managment... most of them are paper pushers and have never stepped foot in the buildings they ”manage”. So they would absolutely be the first source to ask a question but not the only.

  • AvatarWalt
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    This is an interesting thread, but I'm so sorry it arises from what I know is a stressful, scary, and potentially expensive situation. If you haven't done it already, I'd read your co-op lease and other documents over carefully as well as any minutes and other co-op records you have access to. Co-ops are such a unique ownership form. You're basically renting your unit from a landlord, the landlord being a corporation that you and all the other residents own shares in. The lease and bylaws may offer information on who (landlord or tenant) is to maintain or improve what, and the co-op meeting minutes or other records may shed light on whether this issue has come up before and what was done.

    I'd second the recommendation of spending an hour or so of lawyer time (they need to be someone who has a good working knowledge of NY co-op law) having them look over the lease, bylaws, etc. to give you a good understanding of how things should work regarding responsibility, code requirements, etc.

    Good luck and, while it's probably low on your agenda, update us when you can.

    nyccitychic thanked AvatarWalt
  • PRO
    Klein Kitchen and Bath
    5 years ago

    I am very sorry you are in this position misskatel, especially because they have already demoed your kitchen. I think you should definitely have an independent electrician to look at all of this. Any experienced licensed electrician will tell you the codes. It seems very odd that you do not have a panel on your floor or inside the apartment so a lawyer could be useful to consult with.

    I know when we have to bring up an electrical line from the basement (most of the time) to increase amperage, our client had to pay for the whole process but I think that the fact that you don't have a box on your floor could be a way for you to have your co-op pay for it or split cost with you (you will have to see with the lawyer).

    The electrician and GC absolutely have to ask permission to reverse work because it is inside your apartment. If they reverse the work they can cancel their permit so it's just a question whether you want to continue working with the GC and their electrician. It won't affect your apartment unless if they never close it, then you won't be able to sell your apartment with an open permit.

  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Something's not right here. Either the building itself is not up to code, or your initial home inspection prior to purchase missed this very important issue. My question is, how many units are in the building? 10 or more? I think I'd demand a meeting of the co-op board to discuss how the building plans to meet code and what the assessment to the co-op owners will be for the upgrades. If there are a significant number of units, the cost per owner shouldn't be astronomical. This is depressing the home values (not to mention the safety) of the residents for which everyone in the building should very concerned. Sadly, I don't have additional suggestions for how to deal with your immediate problem other than what has already been written by others.

    P.S. I'd consult with a lawyer who is proficient with real estate law and co-op management to see what your recourse is.

    nyccitychic thanked Sabrina Alfin Interiors
  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    5 years ago

    "The contractor just called me and told me that the electrician is cancelling the permit and want to reverse the work done. Can they do this without asking me? I asked him to put it into writing and refused to and said that they don’t need to ask me? Since I paid for the permit and have a contract for this work, isnt this something they should first notify me before doing and at least get my approval to proceed?"


    Dude smells a red tag (stop work order) coming and wants to kill it before it's born. I don't blame him, but you still control who gets on your property and who doesn't.



    "Does this negatively impact against my property?"


    That red tag sure does.


    "I asked him for a couple of days to figure out next steps. But he keeps saying he needs to pay the electrician and that this is inevitable."

    Since the electrician is taking you back to where you were before he started, he's essentially done no work. No work = no pay. He can pay the electrician whatever he pleases, but you should pay for none of it. Let him try to lien that; it's laughable.

    "But likely we could still proceed with an update and ideally would like them to do the work (after tonight I am not feeling great about him/them). I just need time to figure it out. It’s in my best interest!!! I don’t have a kitchen!

    This situation seems to be getting worse...

    Does anyone know how long before inspection happens?"


    You need to throw these clueless bums out, the lot of 'em. Inspection happens when inspection is called to the property to inspect. Your electrician thought he was going to get away with a hillbilly fix and is realizing he's getting dangerously close to getting caught and tagged. That's why you're getting so much pressure to let them go back to square "A". Don't let these clowns bully you, please. Get an independent electrical contractor now and allow them nothing.

    nyccitychic thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC
  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    5 years ago

    "@tatts I actually found the comments really useful? You don’t have to keep reading this thread. This is a real life problem for me not some random question about what color couch would match my rug."


    Lol. tatts gets a smackdown; I love it.


    misskatel:


    You handle your contractors the way you handled tatts and your problems are over, I promise.



    nyccitychic thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC
  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    To all, you dont know how helpful this has been to me. I hope to have an update and pictures of my beautiful dream kitchen in the near future. =)


    I am already in contact with a lawyer...


    To Be Continued...

  • Sam B
    5 years ago

    I too I am surprised this wasn't mentioned when the inspection happened :(

    I'm a first time homeowner with an HOA as well, so I'm curious how this turns out. Good luck!

    nyccitychic thanked Sam B
  • gm_tx
    5 years ago

    Following!


    Good luck, OP!

    nyccitychic thanked gm_tx
  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The thing I find most puzzling is the Coop Board or whomever had to review and approve the plans. Surely they had to know that the building is not in compliance with current codes? Even if it were grandfathered, they had to know that your project could not be. And that moving forward with those plans would force a major updating to the building as a whole?

    Why would they approve plans to do that if they weren’t prepared to deal with the logical consequences of that approval? That makes no sense. Unless the “building electrician” is not actually an electrician? And there is no one on the Board who knows anything at all about construction? That would be the scariest scenario yet.

    nyccitychic thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    5 years ago

    @Cook's Kitchen, exactly! I live in a condo building in SF and we have an architectural committee that approves plans for just such issues and advises the HOA board. How did her work get approved in the first place?

    nyccitychic thanked Sabrina Alfin Interiors
  • Aurora Tee (Zone 6a)
    5 years ago

    I may never live in NYC again or a co-op in any American city, but I find this thread interesting and helpful.

    Misskatel, one day this will behind you and there will be a great kitchen in your home. I like to think you may be saving a lot of lives here as well. There are panels in the basement with no clear markings? What the heck else is wrong? If I were a resident in your building, I may not be happy to fork out additional money to correct what should have never been, but I could sleep a lot better at night that it was properly fixed.

    Yes, please keep us up-to-date and when it is all said and done, pictures of the new space.

    nyccitychic thanked Aurora Tee (Zone 6a)
  • mainenell
    5 years ago
    I think I would talk to a lawyer familiar with co-op regulations. They may be able to help with ins and outs of this complicated problem. I think the coop is responsible for a substantial portion of the labor for rectifying the complicated wiring in this building.
    nyccitychic thanked mainenell
  • suzyq53
    5 years ago

    Sounds like this is an old conversion of an apartment building or hotel. That would be the reason for no separate meters and I assume water is included as well as cable. Also all the plumbing, heat and ac would be common use. I'd surmise that prior kitchen renovations used the existing electrical and plumbing locations. Maybe you can revise your kitchen plans to use the existing wiring.

    nyccitychic thanked suzyq53
  • _sophiewheeler
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    For everyone saying “the co op is responsible”, you do understand that that means that the OP, and all of the building residents, need to go into their pockets to pay to deal with the issues here? The Co Op IS the people in the building. The stockholders. There is no mythical corporation with deep pockets to make things happen.

    The corporation is the people.

    nyccitychic thanked _sophiewheeler
  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    5 years ago

    That's true, Sophie. But presumably this is an issue that impacts the entire building and not a small fire safety problem. Usually co-op boards and HOA's--if they are managed properly--have contingency budgets for building upgrades and repairs that the residents have been paying into via their monthly co-op fees. Hopefully that is the case and wouldn't require a significant additional out-of-pocket expense.

    nyccitychic thanked Sabrina Alfin Interiors
  • millworkman
    5 years ago

    " Hopefully that is the case and wouldn't require a significant additional out-of-pocket expense."


    Hopefully not famous last words................


    nyccitychic thanked millworkman
  • Helen
    5 years ago

    There are also savings based on scope of project. It would be quite a bit cheaper for the building to update all of the wiring at once by bringing electrical feeds to each floor rather than have each individual homeowner incur the expense of running a line through the walls.


    nyccitychic thanked Helen
  • suzyq53
    5 years ago

    My understanding is that if an individual unit is being remodeled, the owner of that unit would incur the expense of running new wiring from the box in the basement all the way to their unit and the cost of any drywall and paint involved. Then installing a sub panel at the unit.

    The co-op board is in charge of the electrical service for the entire building. If there is an inadequacy there or safety concerns or the service needs replacing or upgrading, that would be paid for by the co-op's reserves or a special assessment.

    nyccitychic thanked suzyq53
  • AvatarWalt
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    To add to the "who pays" comments, even if the co-op doesn't have sufficient reserves to pay for needed upgrades, they could borrow money for capital improvements and pay the loan back over a number of years so the monthly cost to unit-owners is more manageable. That was always a source of "discussion" when I lived in one of Seattle's few co-ops, since upgrades that will last for 30 years or more shouldn't necessarily be paid for 100% by the people who live there for five. Anyway, there are lots of arguments and ways to deal with things, but the first step should be information and knowledge: lease agreement; bylaws; minutes and corporate records; NY co-op law; code.

    nyccitychic thanked AvatarWalt
  • Ron Natalie
    5 years ago


    Hard to tell here given the rather uneducated spew from the alleged contractor but the lack of being able to identify and access the breakers for an apartment *IS* a major safety concern.


    Again, I don't know what "you've been told," gut NYC law is quite clear. Any work other than low voltage work requires a permit.

    nyccitychic thanked Ron Natalie
  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    5 years ago

    Oh my! I'm so grateful I live in a single family house in a LCOL area! I just had a new electrical panel put in my own house a couple of weeks ago. It cost me $1200 and they did a gorgeous job. They had to be sure it was properly tied into the whole house generator - had to label every single wire in order to put them back on the proper circuit that matched the one in the generator panel.

  • Helen
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @Joseph Corlette - In New York City, the Housing Inspection Department is not the same as the Building Inspection or the permits inspection. Housing Inspectors inspect rental units for violations of Codes concerning health and safety of tenants - which is why I wasn't sure whether coop residents fall within the jurisdiction of the Housing Inspection Department.

    Typically they write violations for lack of heat; lack of water; vermin infestation and electrical violations which are hazardous.

    Hopefully the GC does not have any kind of relationship with a housing inspector because that would be illegal and although there are bad apples everywhere, the department attempts to ferret out corruption. The big money though is generally attempting to bribe the Building Department which oversees new construction and new building in NYC has a VERY chequered past what with the Mob having historic business interests in the cement trade :-). GC's are more likely to have good relationships with the guys who inspect for permits for remodeling jobs although I'm not familiar with that in NYC but at least in Los Angeles, there is a smaller pool of guys and they inspect for their specialties and operate within a particular territory - my designer and GC seemed to be familiar with the predilections of the various inspectors who were assigned for my remodel and knew what they were looking for and were personally engaged with them during the inspection process so I think it's less of a black and white process.

  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The renovation was finally complete in January. I’m pretty sure I could have built a house in the same time (not in nyc of course). I am not really sure if my experience was uniquely painful. Sweeten contacted me about being featured on their blog. But I declined as I feel so uncomfortable endorsing the contractor and risk someone to experience what I went through with the process and how they manage their jobs (even after the electrical issue was resolved). It’s a shame because ultimately they were able to execute my design/vision and I am happy with the result... just not HOW it was done and long it took to accomplish. I am now planning my bathroom renovation and did not even consider working with them again. I know nothing is perfect but the cons outweighed the pros. Certainly, knowing what I know about their project management, I cannot reasonably proceed with them to renovate our only bathroom.


    I learned a lot going through this first renovation and only hope to use some of that knowledge for my next renovation. I know I can expect each one will be different and challenging. But at least now I will do a better job to select a more compatible contractor in terms of communication and project management style.







  • AvatarWalt
    5 years ago

    I'm glad you ultimately got a good result, and thanks for checking back in to let us see the final product. It looks beautiful (though difficult to photograph given the galley layout), and I particularly love the uninterrupted swath of countertop down the entire side-- it must be terrific space for all the kitchen tasks. What kind of fridge is that? Also, how did things shake out with the electrical and all the co-op issues?

  • dovetonsils
    5 years ago

    Looks very nice. I am always amused when I see an HGTV episode where the host tells the homeowner that they can have the $150K renovation done in six weeks. Then they run into massive design changes, permit issues, termites, asbestos, etc, and the host says he will have to add on a week.

  • weedmeister
    5 years ago

    As nice as this turned out, I think everyone would like to know what happened with all the coop and inspection issues.

  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The management company and contractor finally decided during an on site meeting that the best way to proceed was to reverse the electrical work, pass inspection, and come back in to complete the work again but without the permit.

    Originally, I didn't want to provide the resolution because I anticipated that most people would say it is "questionable". However, this was what was decided on by all parties as the best way to proceed.

  • nyccitychic
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    @AvatarWalt - The refridgerator is a Summit-FFBF281W

  • V W
    3 years ago

    I anticipate experiencing a similar problem w an upcoming Reno to a new York Co op as well, thank you so much for sharing and all the comments on this thread have been wonderfully enlightening.

  • grannysmith18
    2 years ago

    For those still following this thread, my daughter is about to start on a large kitchen renovation in a 300 apartment NYC building. The building management is very conscientious about safety, the co-op board is a reasonably friendly group, and the building has an architect/engineer who has to approve plans before the co-op boards gives their approval. All these people are nice and reasonable, and aren't looking to give the owners a hard time.


    And yet.


    Getting the approvals from the building has taken forever - and not because Covid has affected the process. It has been months of back-and-forth, including hiring our own (very expensive) electrical engineering firm to respond to the board's questions and concerns. We weren't asking for any outlandish permissions. The building has an electrical panel in the hallway on each floor, with each apartment marked. Their current policy is that going forward any apartment that has renovations that involve any electrical work has to install an electrical panel in the apartment.


    And this is just the building. Now it all must be approved by the NYC Buildings Department. As someone else mentioned, there are regulations and complexities that are unimaginable to a suburban homeowner. I own a one family house in New Jersey where I've had lots of work done, and I never anticipated anything like this.


    Still, my daughter's family loves living there, and we hope that when all is said and done it will be lovely and safe.

  • Talia Zimkind
    2 years ago

    I know tbjs post is 2 years

    okd. im havinf the same tbing and i also live jn fh!! im curious what building?

    this just happened

    today!