New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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As Seen on TV

With the rise in the number of TV shows related to real estate, building renovations, and do-it-yourself home repairs, I have come across many cases where shareholders and unit-owners in co-ops and condos have decided to do their own renovations. In some cases, they’re doing it unbeknownst to anyone in the building, including their neighbors, superintendent, management, and the board.

Co-op and condos generally have a rule requiring owners to install carpeting over 80 percent of all livable floor space. I had a unit that was purchased with carpeting on the floors. A shareholder who came into the apartment suggested that they would not be renovating much, just painting and making some small cosmetic touches. The shareholder made sure to have management come in and verify that carpet was in fact installed over 80 percent of the floor. In this case, the apartment was carpeted wall to wall.

About a month later I got a call from a resident complaining of noise from the unit. I was told that there was a light, intermittent tapping noise occurring in the middle of the night. I explained that the shareholder had sufficient carpeting; however, I agreed to look into it.

One evening after a board meeting, I made a surprise visit to the apartment. I arrived and found the shareholder, a woman in her early thirties, home alone. Music was playing and candles were burning, and she had materials spread out over the floor as she installed a laminate “floating floor” over the carpeting! I had never seen this done before. Surprised, I forgot about the noise complaint and immediately asked her where she had gotten this idea. She told me she had seen it done on TV.

We discussed the fact that she was doing this in the middle of the night and that people were complaining about the noise. She apologized and said she would keep it down. I could not in that very moment figure out whether or not she was actually breaking the rules. Her position was that she does, in fact, have carpeting installed on 100 percent of the floors.

This was the softest hard floor I had ever walked on. The carpeting below provided a cushion that you could feel beneath your feet when walking on the hard surface. I told her that I felt that the laminate floor would probably not last long as these floors were intended to be installed over hard subfloors. She might make it last longer, I noted, by perhaps adding a thin cloth or paper-like material placed between the sub- and finished floors. That would help with moisture. She shrugged off my advice.

I never received another noise complaint concerning that unit. Several months later, the apartment was sold. The new shareholder gut-renovated the place. The contractors and I had a good laugh when they found the carpeting beneath the floating floor. I explained that that’s how they do it on TV.


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