Fully Committeed Forming and Working With Design Committees

Using the services of a trained professional and making sure you have the input of your constituents - in this case the residents of your co-op or condo building - are two elements of a project that are sometimes hard to reconcile, particularly in the case of a creative endeavor like a remodel or renovation. It is important that all parties know what their roles are, so they can work together and not step on each other's toes. In the case of interior renovations, a shareholder design committee is typically formed and seeks the input of an architect or a designer.

Why a Committee?

Not every physical change in the building requires a design committee, says architect Steve Zirinsky of Zirinsky Architecture, PC, in Long Island City, Queens. "Something like a boiler room renovation clearly doesn't require a design committee, because most people don't care about how it looks," he says.

However, when you're dealing with hallway and lobby renovation, or even laundry rooms in many cases, a design committee is essential, says Zirinsky, who has worked on several such projects in both Queens and Manhattan. Residents care about the carpeting, the wallpaper, the floor tiles, the color scheme - and they don't hesitate to make their opinions known.

Getting good people on a design committee is important, especially in this day and age when many unit owners tend to be apathetic and hard-pressed to volunteer for anything. Most observers agree that design committees should contain at least one board member to act as a liaison as well as shareholders, although this isn't universal.

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