Consider board approvals, permits, and costs involved during layout changes
One of Sweeten’s goals is to translate insight from NYC renovators and contractors into information you can use to make better decisions about improving your home. New Yorkers are no strangers to small spaces and close neighbors, but when you own your place, you might expect to have some control over how the interior looks and works. And you do… sort of.
If you live in a condo or a co-op, you can probably have a go at re-doing the kitchen and bath, but there are some major hurdles to making layout changes. Even for townhouse and brownstone owners, where changes to the walls and windows and roof are fair game, there are real cost implications to moving things around. Sweeten offers an outline to help you decide if a layout change is a feasible starting point for your project.
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What constitutes a layout change?
New York City groups layout changes into two categories of work permits. The first group involves major structural modifications to the building. The second group indicates alterations that don’t change the building’s use or occupancy terms but necessitate work on the vital systems hidden behind the walls (re-routing plumbing lines, gas lines, electrical wiring, vertical piping, or ventilation ducts). NYC’s Department of Buildings classifies the first group as “Alteration Type-I” and the second group as “Alteration Type-II.”
If you live in a co-op or condo in NYC, there’s not much you can do to make structural modifications to the building, so you probably aren’t dealing with any Type-I alterations. But, if you are planning to expand or move a kitchen or bathroom, move fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom, add a new bathroom, or take down a load-bearing wall, these updates all require opening walls and may affect existing plumbing, gas, and electrical lines — the bread and butter of Type-II alterations. The bottom line: if your renovation goes beyond directly swapping out the surface components of a room, then you are probably dealing with a layout change.