Table of Contents Show
- There will be Reno Projects that take Priority Over Others.
- New Safety Policies Slow Down Renovations
- Workers’ Movements Could be Severely Limited
- People Staying at Home will Mean more Disruptions.
- You May Have to Change the Materials You Plan to Use
- Contractors will be too Busy to be Everywhere at Once
- Final Thoughts
When the pandemic struck, many homeowners in the middle of an apartment renovation were left in a tight spot. Most building boards responded by ordering an immediate halt to projects. Creating uncertainty about their project’s future; with New York reopening, building boards are beginning to allow renovation projects to restart. This is fortunate but comes with a silver lining for homeowners. If you thought NYC renovations were complicated before the pandemic, get ready for heightened regulations.
We still don’t know what reopening will mean and what the future holds. To help you prepare, here’s a look at what’s ahead as you try to restart your renovation project. Be patient and stay informed about your board’s policies as they adapt to this changing situation. As the weeks pass and the results come in, we should conduct business in the new normal.
There will be Reno Projects that take Priority Over Others.There will be Reno Projects that take Priority Over Others.
While construction projects will resume, expect to be on a waiting list when you can restart. Remember, until we have a vaccine, this is how life will be for everyone. Social distancing has to be maintained. The number of people allowed to enter a building must be controlled. Property managers and building boards will likely only allow a few projects to resume at once. Priority is likely to be given to those in the middle of their project when ordered to stop. Of these projects, more priority will still be given to those currently uninhabitable.
Next in priority will be applications for rental or sale to be closed. Buildings will want to see a business resume as soon as possible. The sooner those projects are completed, the better for everyone. Anyone hoping to start their gut renovation finally will likely need to wait if the project doesn’t need to be completed for an imminent sale, which will likely be delayed further.
New Safety Policies Slow Down RenovationsNew Safety Policies Slow Down Renovations
As should be clear, we’re still in a health crisis. One that requires new safety policies to protect contractors and residents. Building managers and boards are currently deciding how best to meet this challenge. How comprehensive or strict a building is on this will vary. At the least, you can expect a requirement for facemasks to be worn at all times by contractors. Common spaces will need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Temperature screenings at the door may also need to be taken.
Whichever policy your building chooses, the one certainty is that this will slow down your project. As anyone with renovation experience can tell you, time costs money—the potential costs of this need to be factored into your budget before proceeding. Renovations are infamous for always going over budget. You’ll want to have a sizeable reserve fund in place for this possibility. Increasing that reserve fund is highly recommended as delays and unexpected difficulties are now practically guaranteed.
Workers’ Movements Could be Severely LimitedWorkers’ Movements Could be Severely Limited
The need to protect building staff and keep common spaces sanitized will cause problems for contractors. The biggest issue is the building’s elevator, which must be disinfected after every use. Some buildings have chosen to address this issue by making it a rule that all contractors need to stay on-site until all work is finished for the day. This could mean sending each worker up in the elevator in practice. Building staff then disinfect the elevator and service area. The workers remain on-site and don’t go out for lunch. Once work is finished for the day, the elevator brings them down again. Then, working in reverse, the building staff disinfects the elevator and service area again.
There will be a need to adapt to such a procedure in a given situation. It is still unclear how workers will respond to such building requirements. In all likelihood, general contractors will be responsible for ensuring their teams follow all the rules. They intend to keep their team safe will be left up to them. This will need to be worked out between the contractors and building management before a project can resume. A little flexibility in the rules will be required as the project develops and needs change.
People Staying at Home will Mean more Disruptions.People Staying at Home will Mean more Disruptions.
Since many New Yorkers continue to work from home, you need to be mindful of this as you restart your project. More people staying at home will complicate things if your renovation is unusually noisy. Before the pandemic, work hours of renovation were usually restricted to daytime hours when most people were at work. The new normal will mean changes must be made when work occurs. This will indeed cause some grumbling from your neighbors, who will be unhappy with this.
Neighbors working from home might agree to work at certain hours if you decide to stop work. Try to come to an understanding with them. Be ready for the disruptions and headaches; this is sure to cause. Ultimately, it will be hard to please everyone.
You May Have to Change the Materials You Plan to UseYou May Have to Change the Materials You Plan to Use
The global supply chain is one of the biggest things the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into chaos. Factory closures and trading restrictions have created a vast shortfall in materials. Many suppliers have had to notify contractors that their orders will be late or canceled entirely. The luxury item market, in particular, has suffered hard from this, with Calacatta marble from Italy as one example. But the shortages also extend to items closer to home. A huge scarcity of bathroom fixtures and fittings will mean fierce competition once projects restart.
Keep this in mind as you try to organize a restart of your project. The materials your contractor has access to will be more limited than usual. As such, you should try to lower your expectations. There will be a bottleneck until the economy can correctly restart as supply tries to keep up with demand.
Contractors will be too Busy to be Everywhere at OnceContractors will be too Busy to be Everywhere at Once
Even if you can get your reno-project on a priority list, there’s still a problem finding a contractor that can start right away. Once projects are allowed to restart, there will be a rush of people calling their contractors to ask how soon they can begin. Unfortunately, they can’t be everywhere at once, so you may be put on another waiting list. There also doesn’t tend to be a lot of bench strength in this business. If contractors are forced to call outside help to deal with all these project requests, then the quality of their work may suffer.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Even if you don’t know when exactly you can restart, there must be an understanding of what’s in store. There needs to be a frank discussion between yourself and your contractor about the challenges ahead at the start. Plans might have to be redrawn and a new schedule put in place. You’ll also want to check that your finances are secure enough to withstand further delays.
This is a great time to get your plans on paper for anyone still in the planning phase of their project. Most renovations take a few weeks or months to plan, so the better, the sooner you start. Decide on a budget, choose the materials you’ll use, and get some blueprints drawn up. To help you determine what’s possible, you can arrange a video call with an architect. Once you have an idea of what you want, start taking photos and videos of your home. You can then send these to contractors who can evaluate the project and give you an expected quote.