Knocking Down Walls at East 72nd Street in NYC to Create a Custom High-End Apartment
Sometimes a renovation project requires breaking down a few walls, both literally and metaphorically. In this high-end remodel project on East 72nd Street in New York, we broke down walls and purchased part of a hallway from the building to combine two neighboring apartments. We also helped break down walls between the project architect, the consulting architect hired by the building superintendent, and the client. With a lot of communication and a little patience, we delivered a beautiful space that aligned with both the client’s budget and the building manager’s requirements.
One of the biggest challenges of any home renovation project, whether it’s a high-end remodel or a small bathroom makeover, is getting all of the relevant parties—the client, architect, and contractor—on the same page and working within the bounds of any building requirements. Each party has their own ideas about the process, and they’re not always communicated effectively among the group. Everyone has to be on board with the same goals and vision, communication has to be strong between all parties, and its important to understand each team member’s role. This starts on day one, when a client engages an architect and shares their vision. In an ideal world, the client understands their budget and knows what they want in a design, and the architect understands their vision and creates construction drawings that will allow a builder to bring that vision to life.
However, the real world can be a different story. In this case, there was another element in the mix—a consulting architect retained by the managing agent of the building to ensure that all of the building requirements were met. The specifications that were outlined by the consultant were detailed—38 pages of details, to be exact. The consultant, whose time was being billed to the client, was also doing intense construction administration with site visits every two weeks to inspect the work and confirm that it was being completed to those specifications.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem because the project architect can help answer questions, provide revised drawings, and weigh in on any concerns that arise during inspections. However, by the time construction had started, the project architect had been released by the client, so we didn’t have this valuable resource available to us throughout the rigorous inspection process. Meanwhile, the client wanted to make design changes after the drawing set had been issued. Of course, these changes also had to be compliant with the building requirements. Without the project architect available, we had to be thoughtful about executing the changes to the design.
In situations like this, communication is key. Managing client expectations to ensure that they understand what they will be getting based on their design decisions is essential. Because the project architect wasn’t available in the later stages of construction, we had to work closely with the client to manage the changes they wanted to make and communicate clearly about the implications of their decisions.
The changes that occurred after the drawings had been issued also required additional coordination with our partners to get them on the same page about the design intent, which didn’t necessarily align with what was in the construction documents they had. Developing a relationship with the consulting architect and building superintendent also allowed us to ensure that our work matched their requirements. Fortunately, we were ultimately able to connect with the project architect to discuss the original design vision, which helped us execute elements of the intended design despite having limited drawings.
Building Beautiful Spaces and Strong Relationships
Swinging hammers and smoothing ruffled feathers require two different skill sets. Having this combination of strengths in a general contractor can mean the difference between a renovation that just gets completed and one that feels like the home the client envisioned. It’s rare for a renovation to go exactly as everybody had planned, but with the flexibility to adapt as changes arose, we were able to create a beautiful new space that met the requirements of all parties involved.
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