New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Being on your co-op or condo board carries a lot of responsibility, liability, and, let's face it, headaches.

From building repairs and maintenance, energy upgrades, insurance, lobby redesigns, accounting and financing - the challenges facing co-op and condominium board directors are endless. In this series, Habitat Magazine editors interview New York City experts to learn how problems have been solved at their client co-op and condo buildings. We take a deep dive into the issues being confronted, the possibilities for solutions, the costs, the challenges, and the outcomes.

Many apartment buildings with terracotta details are beautiful to look at, but with beauty comes expense if the material needs repair. Dane Barnes P.E, partner at Joseph K. Blum, was hired to do a façade inspection at a prominent Fifth Avenue co-op and found multiple cracks on the terracotta cornice. Small cracks often signify dangerous conditions underneath. “When we see these kinds of conditions our heart sinks because we know we’re going to have to give bad news to the board.” In this episode of Problem Solved, Habitat editor Paula Chin interviews Dane Barnes to learn how the bad news was delivered, what materials were proposed for the fix, how the project passed all the regulatory hurdles, the project cost and the final outcome.

Some people own multi-million-dollar apartments, others on a more modest scale, but doing laundry in a communal laundry room is one activity that levels the playing field. That makes the choice of a laundry room vendor crucial to providing a space that meets the needs of the community while at the same time a much-needed revenue source.  In this episode Habitat Magazine's Carol Ott speaks to Automatic Industries president Denise Savino about user-friendly solutions for diverse demographics, laundry room legalities, technology, different types of laundry room contracts and the timing sequence of searching for a new vendor or negotiating with your current one.

Around 1500 buildings in New York City use Con Ed steam for heating and cooling, and many are considering moving to electricity to reduce their carbon emissions. If your building has a distribution system that uses the same pipes for heating and cooling, like the Beekman Hill co-op discussed in this episode, there are steps to take and timing issues to consider. Habitat Magazine's Carol Ott speaks to Controlled Combustion president Michael Bendjouya about what those are.

Thanks for listening. Subscribe to this podcast for more stories on how New York co-ops and condos have solved a myriad of problems. Brought to you by Habitat Magazine, the "bible" that hundreds of board directors turn to every day!

It's not uncommon for condos with commercial space to find the owner of that space isn't contributing adequately to the shared expenses of the building. The board then finds itself doing assessments for residential owners while the commercial owner's monthly payments stay flat. The question is, how to get out of this situation without discord or a lawsuit? Avi Zanjirian, CPA and partner at Czarnowski & Beer shares how a 15-unit condo-op on Manhattan's West 3rd Street accomplished this. Habitat Magazine's Emily Myers interviews Avi Zanjirian.

Thanks for listening. Subscribe to this podcast for more stories on how New York co-ops and condos have solved a myriad of problems. Brought to you by Habitat Magazine, the "bible" that hundreds of board directors turn to every day!

Apartment buildings that are heated and cooled by centralized systems are prime candidates for technology that can monitor and adjust all the controls needed to power the systems. In this episode, Habitat’s Emily Myers talks with  Robert Post, senior sales engineer at Parity, to learn how a Harlem co-op embraced this technology to lower their energy costs by monitoring and tweaking motor speeds, temperature settings and pressure set points.

Managing risk in co-op and condo buildings is more crucial than ever as insurance rates soar. Many boards are now requiring residents to have their own apartment insurance, but enforcing this is no small feat. In this episode, Habitat’s Carol Ott talks with Kara Ryan, Director of Compliance at Mackoul Risk Solutions Insurance, to uncover the challenges of specifying adequate insurance, tracking policies, and ensuring compliance. Join us to discover practical solutions for safeguarding your building and maintaining peace of mind.

In the heart of Manhattan, a towering condominium grappled with a recurring nightmare: leaky Con Ed steam pipes wreaking havoc on its residents' homes. Each incident left a trail of destruction, prompting the board to confront a crucial decision: persist with costly repairs or embark on a bold transformation. Faced with a repair bill soaring between $15 to $20 million, the board discarded the old centralized system in favor of sleek, modern in-unit heat pumps, a transformational move priced at $7 million. Not only did this stop the leaks, it allowed residents to determine their own heating and cooling needs within their own walls. Ramez Afify, principal at E4P Consulting Engineering  explains what the condo faced and the details of its choices.  Habitat Magazine's Carol Ott conducts the interview. This episode is sponsored by Parity.

In New York City noise is a common problem. Sleep issues used to be the biggest complaint, but as the world has shifted to remote work, day-time noise has become a new distraction in apartment buildings.  Developers of new condos in commercial areas are facing day-time noise issues and it's impacting the sale of their units. Michael Lentin, Founder of CitiQuiet Windows, a brand of interior soundproof windows, shares how his firm has worked with developers to proactively address this post-pandemic concern. And in the era of climate change, even Con Edison has jumped on the interior window bandwagon to provide incentives for buildings to use an interior window as a less expensive alternative to a complete window overhaul. Habitat Magazine's Carol Ott interviews Michael Lentin, founder and owner of CitiQuiet Windows. This episode has been brought to you by NYSERDA.

When apartment owners in a  NYC co-op or condo want to renovate their units, most will sign an alteration agreement and then their plans are sent to the building's architect for review. Difficulties ensue when the reviewing architect says the work needs a permit from the city, and the apartment owner insists it doesn't. Kevin Bone, co-founder of Bone/Levine Architects, explains the ramifications of this push-back and why boards should be strict about allowing certain types of work to proceed without a permit.  Habitat Magazine's Emily Myers conducts the interview. This episode is sponsored by NYSERDA.

Previous Season

Ask the Experts

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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