Realizing the Dream An Apartment Owner's Guide to Renovation

Suppose you want to give new life to your dingy old kitchen, enlarge your living room or convert a bedroom loft into a cozy, office study. You have to choose a professional who can best turn that dream into reality, and choosing the right professional who can act as both a designer and advisor over the course of the project is certainly not an easy task. Whether you are looking to make a design statement or just a modest reorganization, you may need to hire an architect or other design professional to achieve your desired goal. It’s crucial that your chosen professional be sympathetic to your personality, aesthetic tastes, and budget constraints.

Form vs. Function

The first step is to determine the scope and complexity of your project. Architectural and interior design is a time-consuming process. While it may start with a sketch on the back of an envelope, the process to perfection is one of refinement. A renovation project could take off in many different directions. Whether you wind up hiring an architect or a designer depends on the scope of the project. If you’re taking out a wall, for example, or altering anything to do with plumbing, HVAC, or the overall structure of your space, it’s necessary to retain an architect to draw up plans and construction documents and to file the appropriate paperwork with your co-op board and proper building authorities. If you’re just sprucing up your kitchen, however, or planning some new built-in bookshelves in the den, an architectural or interior designer will be more than qualified to help you carry out your project.

Getting Approval

Regardless of the breadth and depth of your project, do keep in mind that construction rules vary from building to building. Some buildings are self-managed, but most have managing agents who are responsible for enforcing the rules. The board of directors, or a committee of the board, usually has to approve any project that will require workmen to enter the building.


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