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Apartment remodeling or renovation work in a co-op or condo are usually governed by the lease, by-laws and building rules. The lease and by-laws provide the foundation for each buildings particular Alteration Agreement in all co-op,s. In a condo, what is allowable as far as what types of alteration or renovation type of work can be done, are typically found in that buildings by-laws and rules.

Apartment alterations are usually split up into two groups:

A) Alterations which would include some type of structural work or work that would affect the HVAC System, plumbing system, electrical system, or any other building system in any given building.

B) Alterations that are cosmetic in nature, such as painting, wallpapering, replacing carpets, re-finishing wood floors, etc. or basically any other type of non structural renovation.


Any Type of Apartment Renovation or Alteration must address concerns with respect to the management company who manages the particular co-op or condo should periodically put all shareholders and/or apartment owners on notice that there must be a written Alteration Agreement submitted to management prior to any type of remodeling or renovation work to be completed by any outside Contractors in any of the units in the building. This notice should be made after review of the lease, by-laws and rules of the particular co-op or condo, in that the obligations of the apartment owners or shareholders should be made clear as to their responsibility to submit an Alteration Agreement prior to the commencement of any work within their apartment or unit.

The co-op, condo board and the management company should collaborate with legal counsel, an architect and/or an engineer to draft a standard form of Alteration Agreement for both structural and non-structural alterations or renovations. These documents should be part of the application provided to all prospective purchasers in the cooperative or condominium, as well as to existing unit owners and shareholders.

In general, a typical Alteration Agreement is used by building management companies to cover broad areas such as property damages, personal injury damages, selection of architect or engineer, liability & workman's compensation insurance, common area & general building damages, hold harmless by apartment owner to co-op or condo, regular daily work hours, demolition, plumbing and electrical systems, general building systems, liability and indemnification for building and/or adjacent owners, security, relocation and an advance deposit which is held in escrow for any damages which could be caused to the building.

Some Alteration Agreements also carry a series of riders to cover issues such as concerns with lead based paint contamination, asbestos, plumbing/heating/HVAC, appliances, electrical services, window and wall replacements, terrace construction, removal and/or replacement of structural portions of the building and/or the interior of the apartment or unit. In addition to the above general issues regarding renovations & alterations, the agreement usually provides a set of  work rules and guidelines for contractors to follow.

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