Alteration Agreements NYC Renovations

by | Last updated Jul 12, 2020 | Apartment Renovations

What is an alteration agreement?

An Alteration Agreement is a contract one must enter before renovating an apartment. This contract is between an individual apartment owner in a condo or shareholder in a Co-Op and their building board. The Alteration Agreement outlines the building rules, requirements, responsibilities, and expectations for the owner and board throughout the renovation process.


Alteration Agreement Definition

An alteration agreement by definition is a contract agreement for performing alterations on an apartment. The Condo Owner or Co-Op shareholder will sign the agreement with the Building Board or Building Management Company. Some alteration agreements are more complicated than others some are quite straight forward. Alteration Agreements typically outline a few key matters:

  • Apartment Alteration Protocols
  • Application Requirements
  • Building Rules
  • Penalties and Responsibilities

Apartment Alteration Protocols

The Alteration agreement may often outline the protocols for the renovation. This includes the review process by the board, management company, and reviewing architect. You will submit architectural plans to your management company for review. These plans must be prepared by a registered architect of course. The managing agent will forward the plans to another architect for review.

The reviewing architect or engineer will be billed to you. They will typically have comments for your architect. Most normally these comments are with regard to building specific regulations or request for additional information. Do not be scared if you get 5 pages of comments. Half the times these comments are generic and probably copy and pasted from previous applications. Sometimes you may have serious objections that need to be resolved or that may result in a change in design.

You must get approval from your reviewing architect / engineer, management company, and board before you file with the Department Of Buildings for a permit. Someone from the board or management will co-sign your paperwork for DOB.

Alteration Agreement Building Rules

Alteration Agreements sometime outline building rules. As an architect I have seen many alteration agreements, we always review these at my office. Some are more detailed than others. You may want to have your lawyer review these as well, but they are usually quite straight forward. Sometimes the alteration agreements outline building rules and restrictions. Some of the typical rules and restrictions are:

  • Wet Over Dry – This restricts you from expanding a wet space (like a kitchen or bathroom) over a dry space (like a bedroom) on the floor below.
  • Replace Branch Piping and Valves – Most Buildings (especially old ones) will ask you to replace plumbing branch piping and valves if you are doing plumbing work.
  • No Work On Risers – You normally cannot work on or reroute plumbing, gas, or electrical risers in your building.
  • No Chipping Concrete – Most buildings do not allow you to chip or channel concrete. Some buildings do allow this.

These are a few examples of typical building renovation rules. there are many more and every building can have there own nuanced rules.

Application Requirements Alteration Agreement Supporting Documents

Aside from signing the alteration agreement you will need to provide additional documents to your board before renovating your apartment

  • Security Deposit
  • Signed Alteration Agreement
  • Architectural Plans by a Licensed Architect
  • Written Scope Of Work
  • Product Specifications / Cut Sheets
  • Contractors Licenses Including Subcontractors
  • Certificates Of Insurance for all Contractors
  • DOB Filing Paperwork
  • Written Response to any comments from the reviewing architect

Alteration Agreement Penalties and Responsibilities 

Your building alteration agreement may outline penalties for example some buildings limit the schedule of a renovation. If the work exceeds a certain time frame you may be subject to financial penalties. Additionally the agreement will hold you financially responsible for any problems caused by you contractor or damage to common areas.


Alteration Agreement Co-Op

Typically it is assumed that Co-Op boards are more strict and more hands on than condo boards. This varies from building to building.


Condominium Alteration Agreement

It is commonly assumed that Condo Boards are more easy going and more hands off but as well this varies from building to building.


Thank You for reading our blog post on NYC Apartment Alteration Agreements

Please feel free to post questions or comments below. If you are interested in discussing a specific project  you can contact us directly to speak with an architect.


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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.