Supersize Me! When Two Apartments Become One

Here in the land of birdfeeder-sized apartments (otherwise known as New York City), people will do just about anything for more space. And while sordid tales of deception and skullduggery abound, there are some legitimate means of expanding your domestic sphere of influence, and merging two apartments into one "megapartment" is one way to do it. But how do you go about performing this sort of architectural surgery? What will my co-op board have to say about it? What will this do to your property values, shares, and maintenance fees? Well, fear not - included here is everything you wanted to know about merging apartments but were afraid to ask.

To Tie the Knot"¦or Not

Merging apartments can be quite a commitment. So the first few big questions you need to ask yourself are; is this worth it? Will I be staying in this apartment indefinitely? Might I wish to take a job in Uzbekistan next year? Will this neighborhood be under water by virtue of global warming and a 100-year flood? In all seriousness, however: although some unions are relatively easy, many require considerable expense, paperwork, and an extended period of construction work, during which your apartment may be uninhabitable. These are things to consider before you take the plunge.

Along with future concerns and the problem of displacement from your home, obviously you'll also want to make sure you have a workable budget. Decide first how much you're prepared to spend on the endeavor, and then estimate how much it will cost to complete it. Don't forget to include fees for architects, engineers, contractors, lawyers, the cost of any special building materials, increased maintenance fees, the costs of buying and maintaining any new amenities or structural features you're adding, and - of course - all the new furniture you'll need.

One of the biggest determining factors may be whether you can snag two side-by-side apartments versus vertically adjacent ones. Although duplexes certainly have their charms and a little bit of prestige, there are significant advantages to doing horizontal combinations, according to Craig Toomin, an architect for Manhattan's Cutsogeorge & Toomin Architects. "With horizontally adjacent apartments, you're basically just cutting a hole in the partition and building a doorway.


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  • So will rent double or will they figure out a way to make the house one and you have one big bill or do you have to buy the apartments