Renovating a Philadelphia condo unit brings with it challenges that homeowners simply don’t face. Unit owners must comply with condo rules and regulations, consider how noise affects neighbors and work within the building’s larger electrical or plumbing systems. Careful planning before renovations helps prevent problems with the condo association and staff.
Unlike a house, when you purchase a condo you only own what lies within the unit’s walls. You cannot renovate public areas, other people’s units or the building’s utility infrastructure. This is necessary, in part, to ensure the building maintains its overall feel and appearance.
Well before you commit to any condo renovations, read over the condo association’s condo docs to find out what types of renovations are permitted. Different condo docs have different restrictions. You’ll probably need to submit a plan of renovation, in writing, to the condo association.
Generally, most condo agreements allow you to paint, install new appliances, replace lighting and plumbing fixtures and replace flooring. More complex renovations such as rerouting plumbing or electrical wiring and knocking down walls require approval by the condo association.
Renovations requiring work in adjourning units are least likely to be approved, as this inconveniences other residents. Extensive plumbing and electric work may fall into this category.
Working with Contractors
Renovating a condo often means working several stories up, rather than on the ground. This complicates materials delivery, heavy equipment transport, waste removal and even contractor parking.
Ask your condo association if they can recommend contractors with experience in condo renovations. Contractors need experience working in the tighter confines of a condo unit, and keeping noise to a minimum for the sake of your neighbors.
Renovations will go smoother if you coordinate with condo staff. Doormen and other staff need to know when contractors will be on-site, when they will be moving heavy items and your renovation schedule. Early planning and frequent updates help prevent miscommunications and hard feelings. If your renovations require access to the building’s plumbing or electricity, arrange for access well ahead of time.
Considering the Neighbors
When renovating a house, contractors usually work late into the evening, so the job will inconvenience you as little as possible. In a condo, you have to consider how renovation noise and dust affect your neighbors.
Most condo associations have strict noise regulations and limit the hours during which contractors can work. These are reasonable restrictions; your neighbors share walls, ceilings and floors with you, and don’t want to be disturbed late into the evening.
Let neighbors know your renovation plans well in advance so they don’t get blindsided by unexpected noise. Be polite and understanding–after all, you’re inconveniencing them, not the other way around. When renovations are done, express your thanks to neighbors for their patience.
Byline: Michelle is an aspiring writer with a passion for blogging. She enjoys writing about a vast variety of topics and loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to publicly voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.