How To Renovate Your Co-Op in NYC

by | Last updated Dec 31, 2023 | Apartment Renovations, General Architecture, Renovations

If you own a Co-Op apartment or are planning to purchase one in NYC, you may need to perform some remodeling. So, the question is, can you renovate your Co-Op in NYC, and what steps must you take to do so?

You can renovate your Co-Op apartment as long as you abide by all regulations from the board or management company, acquire all necessary permits, and enter into an Alteration Agreement which is a contract between you and your board outlining each party’s responsibilities. 

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in NYC and owner of Fontan Architecture, a Manhattan based architecture firm working on a variety of project types including Co-Op renovations. In this post we will be reviewing some of the basic procedure and responsibilities for renovating your Co-Op apartment in NYC. You can also see some photos below from some of our completed Co-Op renovations.

NYC Co-Op Apartment Renovation

NYC Co-Op Apartment Renovation UES Apartment Combination


Alteration Agreements

When renovating your apartment, you will need to enter into an Alteration Agreement with your building board. This is a contract that outlines the building’s requirements and expectations. There are many issues that can be covered in this document. A few of them are project schedule, liability of damage, protection of common areas, house rules, insurance requirements, etc…

If you are interested, I have written another post that goes deeper into reviewing Alteration Agreements.

Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom Renovation


Hiring an Architect for Your Co-Op Renovation

If you are doing any type of significant renovation you will need to hire an architect for your project. It is best to hire an architect early in the process as they can help guide you through a lot of the logistics. In fact, at our office many people hire us before they even close on the apartment.

If you need to file plans with the Department of Buildings, you will need to hire an architect to obtain approvals so that the contractor can pull permits. You must have an approval from DOB before you get a permit. The approval goes under the architect’s application and license, whereas the permit is under the contractor’s license.

Different architects provide different levels of service. My firm Fontan Architecture is a full service firm. We do everything including architectural & interior design, filing with DOB, assisting with procurement, bidding, visiting the jobsite during construction, etc. You can take a look at another post I wrote where I discuss the architect’s services during a renovation: Apartment Renovation Architects.

Manhattan Kitchen Gut Renovation

Manhattan Kitchen Gut Renovation


Alteration Scope of Work

One of the first steps to renovating your apartment is to establish a scope of work. This means determining how much work you are going to do to the apartment. Are you looking to do a full gut renovation or are you only going to do a few specific alterations? It’s possible you do not know exactly what you want to do. We always discuss options with our clients and help them understand a potential budget for their projects.

UWS Apartment Renovation Home Office

UWS Apartment Renovation Home Office


Getting Co-Op Board Approval to Renovate

Your management company and board will have to review and approve the work. They will review the plans provided by your architect and in most cases have their own architect review the plans and provide comments. This process can be simple and straightforward but sometimes can be more involved. Be prepared this will take some time.

Bathroom Remodel in a Co-Op

Bathroom Remodel in a Co-Op


Obtain DOB Approval

After the board completes their review and approves the work, you can obtain DOB approvals and permits. The architect will file plans and paperwork with the DOB to be reviewed by a plan examiner. This process can take a little time and it really varies on project to project how long. Once the work is approved the general contractor can pull permits.

Co-Op Apartment Renovation Architectural Plan

Co-Op Apartment Renovation Architectural Plan


Hiring a General Contractor 

Your general contractor must submit licenses for all trades, such as electrical, plumbing, general construction, as well as Certificates of Insurance (COI) to your building management before commencing work. The GC may also be expected to sign an agreement with your board.

If you do not have a general contractor, your architect can introduce you to one or more if you need. I always discuss budgets before doing so to make sure we are matching the right contractor to the job. If you are looking to do high end quality, you will need a high end contractor.

Brooklyn Bedroom Design

Brooklyn Co-Op Apartment Renovation

Renovating Your Co-Op

One of the most important things I can tell you about renovating your Co-Op is to put together a good team to work on your project. It is also very important to discuss timeline and budgets early in the process to make sure everyone has realistic expectations.


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Renovating Your Co-Op.

I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture

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 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.