How To Renovate Your Condo in NYC

by | Last updated Jun 11, 2024 | Apartment Renovations, Renovations

If you are planning to renovate a Condo apartment in NYC, you will need to know what you can and cannot do, as well as the process for renovating.


Renovating a Condo in NYC

You can renovate your Condo as long as you abide by all regulations from the Condo board and 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 New York and owner of Fontan Architecture, a Manhattan-based architecture firm. At our office we work on various project types including Condo renovations. In this post we will be reviewing some of the procedures and responsibilities for renovating your Condo apartment in NYC. You can also see some photos below from a few of our completed projects.

Condo Loft Renovation in NYC

Condo Loft  (SoHo Loft Condominium Apartment)


Alteration Agreements

It is common practice for buildings in New York to require you to sign an Alteration Agreement when renovating your apartment. The outlines the building’s requirements and expectations as well as the responsibilities of both parties. There are many issues that can be covered in this agreement. A few examples are liability, house rules, schedule, protection of common areas, insurance requirements, etc…

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


Hiring an Architect for Your Condo Renovation

You will most likely need to hire an architect when renovating your condo apartment in New York. It is never too early to speak with an architect about your project. In fact, at our office many people hire us before they even close on the apartment in order to get a head start on design and planning.

The architect will produce plans for the contractor and to obtain permits from the Department of Buildings. You must have an approval from DOB before the contractor can pull permits. The approval goes under the architect’s application and license, whereas the permit is under the contractor’s license.

Different architects provide different services. Our firm Fontan Architecture is a full service architecture 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 where we outline the architect’s services during a renovation: Apartment Renovation Architects.

Marble Bathroom Remodel

Marble Bathroom Remodel (Upper East Side Condo)


Alteration Scope of Work

When starting a Condo renovation the first step is to establish a scope of work. This means determining what you are going to do to the apartment. For example are you planning to do a full gut renovation or are only remodel a few specific areas? It’s possible you do not know exactly what you want to do. We always discuss options with our clients early on in the process.

Condo Apartment Gut Renovation

Condo Apartment Gut Renovation (Tribeca NYC)


Getting Condo Board Approval to Renovate

Your management company and board will have to review and approve your proposed renovation. Your architect will provide plans that your board and management will review. In most cases the management company will 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.


Obtain DOB Approval

After the board completes their review and approves the work, your architect 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.


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 as well.

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.

Bedroom Design

Bedroom Design (NYC Condo)


Condo Apartments

You may expect that because you purchased a Condo apartment that the renovation process will be smooth with little oversight. This is sometimes the case but not always. In New York Condo buildings may tend to be easier to deal with but there is still a great deal of oversight on the project. The best thing to do is work with them amicably to provide what they need. Renovating is a big deal but in the end it’s all worth it.


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Renovating Your condo.

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.