It's All in the Planning An Architect's Own Showplace

Stephen Carter, principal and founder of the Carman Group, a Manhattan- and Connecticut-based firm that specializes in design and project and construction management is well accustomed to applying his creativity and passion for details to other people's living spaces. But last year, he completed one of his most ambitious endeavors yet - his own home.

Using the techniques of pre-planning and construction supervision that he regularly applies to facilitate a smooth and successful renovation, this past spring he completed the merger of three cooperative apartments into one 3,200-square-foot residence. And he did it in five months less than predicted.

The four-bedroom, four-bath apartment, which is on lower Fifth Avenue in the West Village, had its humble beginnings as a 1,442-square-foot, two bedroom. Although Carter and his wife knew that children were somewhere in their future, they were content with the amount of space. "When we started looking 10 years ago," says Carter, "We looked at 120 spaces in and out of the city. Our initial criteria were good view, lots of natural light, and convenience of amenities like transportation, shopping, and so forth."

Right after they purchased, according to Carter, the couple was planning some minor renovations when the studio next door came up for sale. "So, we bought it," he said. "That provided another bedroom, bathroom and what I call "˜support spaces,' [like] a laundry room and more storage."

While it was obvious that the enlargement would enrich the apartment, Carter says he asked some questions about exit considerations before the purchase of the studio. For example, would someone buy a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in that area? Feasibility studies are one of the services that Carter offers his clients. He examines the space, the building schematics, and other factors to determine if a project is first of all viable, and second, cost-effective.

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