Condominium associations, whether housed in a single building or in a sprawling development, provide a reliably cozy and comfortable community in which to live. But this comfort requires vigilance on the part of both board and management to ensure that the various and sundry components up to code, which can feel daunting for those on the more inexperienced side.
In New York City, the classic high-rises and skyscrapers that make our metropolis the icon it is also pose a serious threat to safety, should an errant brick or other structure dislodge itself from a property's facade or rooftop. There's no uniform code of standards to which condo associations far and wide can look to for information. Statutes vary state to state, city to city, and municipality to municipality—so a board must stay abreast of the precise standards that apply to its type of property and the area in which that property resides. In New York City, safety inspections are imperative, and are strictly regulated by the city's Department of Buildings (DOB). And such inspections encapsulate much more than just the exteriors: various interior systems must adhere to specific regulations as well. If this all sounds like a lot of which to stay on top, that's because, well... it could be. But with a dedicated board, a qualified property management company, skillful vendors and access to information, maintaining a safe and sturdy co-op or condo can actually be easier done than said.
While staring down a litany of building-specific legalities can seem daunting—especially for the average board member, who is most likely a volunteer without substantial engineering or architectural experience—there are fortunately resources available that can make the whole thing significantly easier than it might be otherwise. As Harold Krongelb, president of Heimer Engineering, PC in Brooklyn, will vouch, the city has done a pretty exemplary job of making its information accessible online. “The city has made a remarkable effort of putting all of its pertinent info online,” Krongelb says. “You can go to NYC.gov and easily find an appropriate vendor, whatever your potential issue. Anyone who can’t surmise the answer to their real estate problem there probably does not actually want to see it solved.”
Alexander Schnell, the press secretary for the New York City Department of Buildings, concurs, and points readers to several hot topics of which associations should stay abreast, including cooling tower registration, elevator, boiler, and facade inspections, and energy efficiency reporting.
And it should be noted that, while the city strives to make its information as accessible as possible for managers and associations, inspections are not a passive, automatic process. “It is the responsibility of the property ownership to ensure that tests, reports, and inspections are performed and submitted to the department as required in each section [of the website],” explains Schnell. “In addition, the owner is responsible for curing any conditions that are in violation of the building code, and maintaining the property in a safe manner at all times.”