More Than Just a Good Eye Surviving the Renovation Process

It’s not that your lobby looks bad. It’s just that the mirrored light fixtures and orange trim that seemed so stylish in the (original) days of Abba and flared slacks feels rather dated now. A renovation appears inevitable. How should your board plan for the big overhaul? It doesn’t have to be a traumatic process. With the right amount of planning, renovations can run quite smoothly with minimal upheaval and an undeniably attractive end result.

Answering the Big Questions

Joel M. Ergas, FASID, principal of Forbes-Ergas Design Associates in Manhattan, believes boards must look first at the big picture and worry about the details later. The first things to consider are "Why are we even thinking about doing this and what are we trying to accomplish?"

For many buildings, it’s as simple as wanting to update a tired look. Bob Stella sits on the capital improvements committee for his 600-unit co-op and condo hybrid. "Our building was a luxury building when it was originally designed more than 30 years ago," he says. After a half dozen superintendents and years of superficial changes, "things just didn’t look coordinated. Everything was starting to look very old and tired. The bare bones were there. We just wanted to bring back the original luxurious settings and enhance value for our shareholders."

Enhancing value can be a major plus when it comes to deciding whether or not to invest in renovation. Boards will know it’s time to make a change when "brokers tell you (the building’s) not up to par with the market," Ergas says. Renovating makes good dollar-sense. "There’s a decided impact on people’s investments when appearance and standards come up." Ergas encourages his clients to think of the process as "investing, not spending." If the renovation is done correctly and with an eye on the bottom line, the money invested will be earned back later in increased property value.

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