The Return of Home Renovations

Protocols from Orsid New York, a property management company, call for contractors to pick up and sanitize any Masonite (a floorboard mainstay of construction sites) at the end of the day, and to let building superintendents know when they’re leaving for the day. “That way the staff will know to clean the panels of the service elevator,” said Robbie Janowitz, Orsid’s senior vice president.

Meanwhile, a condo in the West Village is directing contractors to disinfect the service elevator and service entrance three times daily, a cleaning that must include misting with an electrostatic sanitize sprayer to neutralize germs. “The product must be presented and approved by the resident manager,” reads a document issued by the building.

However effective electrostatic spray guns may be, some buildings are none too keen about the prospect of reopening their doors to contractors. At least not yet and maybe not for a good long while. “People think Cuomo is the highest authority, but in New York City the co-op board is the highest authority,” said Marc Kerner, a general contractor and the owner of the company Infinity Construction. “And some boards are nervous.”

Credit…George Papas

Thus, some buildings may be allowing work that was in progress before the shutdown to go forward but are putting the kibosh on new renovation projects until next year. Some buildings are restricting the number of projects that can go on at any one time, Mr. Janowitz said. Others are limiting the scope of alterations — allowing small projects like paint jobs and cabinetry installations, but giving a thumbs down to alterations that require demolition. “Co-op boards want to make it less noisy for people who are quarantining,” said Steve Wagner, a real estate lawyer.

The demographics of a building may help explain a board’s caution, said Melissa Cafiero, the director of compliance at Halstead Management. “Some condos and co-ops may have a lot of residents who frequently travel internationally and there’s a lot of turnover with sub-letters so they’ve put a full stop in place on renovations,” she said. “And there are buildings that had a lot of confirmed Covid cases early on, which has made them more restrictive.” Boards’ decision-making is also being colored by the number of elderly residents and otherwise vulnerable people in their buildings.

“You have to balance health concerns and the effect of the operation of the co-op or condo with the needs of the people who are in the middle of a renovation,” said John Janangelo, the executive managing director at Douglas Elliman Property Management.

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