So you want to renovate your New York apartment? Surely you know that construction costs won’t come cheap in the Big Apple, and once you receive a contractor’s proposal, you might even get sticker shock when you look at the bottom line. Before you sign, know that hidden incidentals are the norm –– these items add up and will increase the total price.

Here are some of the most common hidden costs only associated with renovation in New York City.

Parking Charges

Parking options on certain streets in NYC are unusually slim. Your contractor will need to park each day to unload materials and tools. Illegal parking is an added cost –– that you might tend to overlook ––since tickets don’t come cheap in New York City. This cost would probably be built into the overall price of your project.


Individual buildings may require more coverage than others. If your contractor doesn’t carry the right amount of protection, it’s probable that he may pass the cost along to you, the client. To avoid this, get the requirements from your building and confirm that your contractor carries the minimum.

Tight Deadlines

If a contractor has unusually tight deadlines or a project is in a summer-only building (construction is only allowed during daytime hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day) expect the price to reflect this and the additional cost will be built into the total. Completing a renovation in three months’ time is no small feat, even for a rock star contractor.


Change Orders

Revisions will cost additional fees, and usually are higher than regular construction costs because the contractor doesn’t have to be competitive. He already has the job, so expect him to bill changes at a higher rate than the actual construction. This info should be noted in General Conditions (more on this later). You can avoid this cost by making firm decisions and not change your mind midway through the project or after completion.

Greasing your super’s palm

The superintendent oversees everything in the building and will manage your renovation too, even if he’s not doing it. He will be on site each day and be sure that your project runs smoothly, so be prepared to tip and take care of him and anyone else who lends an ear, eye, or a helping hand. This cost, of course, would be separate from General Conditions and any amount that you would pay your contractor.

When you get your proposal, read the “General Conditions” carefully because there are always exclusions, and many people neglect to review these. You’ll have a clearer idea if the estimate is comprehensive and what additional charges, if any, to expect.

Know that your proposal is an estimate only.  Even the most seasoned contractor is human. Peeling back layers in a New York apartment or townhouse, you never know what you’ll find. And construction is more challenging in New York, so all costs tend to run higher. Expect to pay a minimum of 10 percent more than the contract price, and that’s if everything goes off without a hitch. Complications during a renovation can increase the project cost by 20 percent or higher, in some instances.


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