For those who live in condos and are looking to make aging-in-place renovations, there are special considerations to be taken into account when planning a project.
For any renovation that would require a permit, the condo association must grant approval. The documentation required for review varies according to each association, but usually includes a description of your project, associated drawings or plans, and information on your contractor, including certificates of insurance.
Your first step then is to find out about the approval process either through the condo association directly or via the management company of the building. They not only can supply you with a list of submittals required and rules for renovation, but also the dates when the association meets for plan review.
From my experience, the most stringent requirements imposed by condo associations have to do with restricted work hours. Their biggest concern is that your neighbors are not inconvenienced by the work being done in your home. Many condo associations also impose additional restrictions on the contractor, such as what entrance and elevators can be used, where parking is allowed, procedures for debris removal, areas for material storage, etc. Make sure you give this information to any contractor pricing your job. It’s important they understand the restrictions so as to be able to set up an orderly approach (and realistic costs) for your renovation.
It makes common sense that it may be difficult to obtain approval for any structural changes to your condo considering that your condo is only one unit tied to the structure of an entire building. Often there are hidden utilities behind walls and over ceilings that feed other units. Even if approved, structural changes may be prohibitive when compared to similar renovations to a single family home.
Keep in mind that each association is different in their requirements so do not rely on assumptions from a contractor or be intimated by stories from friends living in other locations.
And while it may seem like an additional burden and a frustrating delay to have to go through your association’s approval process, if you understand an association’s requirements before committing to a remodeling project, you’ll save yourself both time and money in the long run.