Ask any New Yorker and they’ll tell you that New York is the greatest city in the world. Prod a little more, though, and you’ll likely hit on a litany of complaints, the biggest one usually being space. By any standard, New York apartments are small. If you’re having trouble finding a larger space and refuse to become part of the “bridge and tunnel” crowd, you’re left with few options. Luckily, New York allows you to combine apartments without a lot of red tape.
Laws for Combining Apartments in NYC
In 1968, the New York Charter was changed to make combining apartments in New York much simpler and with a lot less hassle. A Certificate of Compliance or Occupancy is no longer required as long as the total number of families in the dwelling decreases and the bulk of the building does not increase.
Additional requirements must be met, but none are too restrictive for most situations. Combining apartments is allowed if:
- They are on the same floor or on adjacent floors with interior access stairs
- They occupy no more than two stories and have an equal or less number of rooms
- Natural light and air requirements are met
- Egresses are not altered
- The second kitchen is removed and all plumbing is capped
A few approval forms are necessary, such as a Plan/Work Approval Application (PW1), Cost Affidavit (P3), and a Technical Report (TP1). You’ll also need to provide a lot diagram and a few other pieces of information, and you’ll be on your way.
Combining Apartments: Is it Worth it?
There are benefits and drawbacks to any endeavor, especially one involving renovations. You’ll get more space, have more breathing room, and increase the number of bedrooms and common areas. You also get the benefits of moving without having to go anywhere. Kids can go to the same school, you’ll have the same neighbors, and you’ll still be in the same building. While you aren’t building from scratch, you’ll be able to configure the space to meet your needs. You can create a home that is truly yours.
But there are drawback and difficulties to combining New York apartments. Your co-op board is likely going to scrutinize your plans more than the city will, since moving load-bearing walls and changing water, gas, and electric lines can cause damage to the building as a whole. Costs are always going to be higher than expected as unforeseen developments occur.
Having a larger space also means additional maintenance and higher utility costs. Plus, making significant changes by combining two apartments takes time. You’ll need to know where you’ll live during construction, which can take anywhere from three months to a year, on average.
Combining two apartments in New York is a popular way to gain a larger footprint in a city where square footage is at a premium. It is expensive, averaging around 20 percent of the cost of the units themselves, but it can be worth it. Larger apartments can get a premium in a market saturated with smaller units. And in the meantime, you can enjoy your new, gigantic New York City apartment.