There’s nothing quite like living in New York City. The soaring skyline, the pulse of the city, the bustling activity, life going on all around you—not to mention being able to walk to the bank, the corner market and a dozen of your favorite restaurants—all of it adds up to a living experience you can’t find anywhere else. That said, while purchasing your own NYC apartment can be exhilarating, the process of making it your own can sometimes be challenging and frustrating, especially if you don’t know what to expect. If you’re planning a home renovation project in NYC, here are a few tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

Know the Rules

This is New York City, and there are all kinds of rules to follow, based on who owns your building, where the building is located, the age of the building, etc. Your coop or condo board will have a say in what types of renovations can or cannot be done in your apartment, how long the renovations may take, and even certain rules about noise or working at certain times of the day. For major renovations, you’ll need to obtain one or more permits from the Department of Buildings. There are also special stipulations for landmarked buildings or structures located in historic districts. Do your homework, ask questions and make sure you’ve got your permits together before you get started. (The last thing you want is for the coop to demand that you undo $50,000 worth of work for which you didn’t get approval, or to be slapped with a fine for not having the right permit.)

Make Living Arrangements During Renovation

Unless you’re doing minor renovations or only redoing a single room, chances are you’ll need to find alternate living arrangements while construction is ongoing. As a rule of thumb, you should be prepared to stay out for 6-8 weeks per room in the apartment, or up to 6 months for a full gut renovation. (Most coop boards require construction to be completed in about 150-180 working days.) Allow yourself enough time to let your contractors do their job, and be patient during the process.

Get Estimates and Contracts in Writing

Renovating your home is a huge investment; make sure you protect it with a clear paper trail. Make sure to get written estimates on everything, and insist on having a copy of all the documents. (A reputable contractor will usually do this automatically, but if they don’t, ask.)

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Many of the buildings in NYC are decades or centuries old, which means they’re often a hodgepodge of old and new. Chances are your apartment will have remnants of renovations and updates from the many families who lived in that space before you did, and many times contractors find “creative” fixes and unwelcome surprises behind the walls. Whatever you’ve budgeted for your renovation project, try to keep an extra financial pad in place, just in case your general contractor discovers something important that must be updated now before anything else can move forward.

Work with a Trusted, Experienced Contractor

Unless your renovations involve a coat of paint or a single cabinet, a New York apartment is usually not the best place to try your hand at a DIY remodel. It’s always best to work with a general contractor with proven experience renovating NYC spaces, as well as someone who can provide references from many satisfied customers. An experienced contractor will often already have a good working relationship with your condo or coop board, be able to identify and resolve potential problems before they start, and can set realistic expectations for your project completion so there are as few surprises as possible.

As a second-generation company, KNG construction has been creating high-quality renovated spaces in New York’s finest buildings for more than 25 years. To learn more about how we can help with your next home renovation project in NYC, give us a call today at (212) 595-1451.