What to Expect

Renovations can be transformative, and not just of the physical environment.

It's a big creative art project that most people experience only once in a lifetime.

If you’re going all in, be sure to enjoy the ride as well as the destination.

How do we get from HERE to THERE?

There's so much I want to tell you! I'm a bit of a den mother, and my overriding urge is to get you up to speed quickly. We'll get into all the fun stuff soon, like which cabinets and tile, but first let's run through the big logistics.

All in the timing:

The most common thing overlooked by first-time renovators is how long approvals will take. I often get this call: "We're closing tomorrow and want to start renovating right away so we can move in next month." It's frustrating, but in New York City, that's highly unlikely. If you're new to renovation, please read on to understand the process and the timing:

How long will it take . . . ?

To design

It depends on the work load at any given moment, but we can sometimes start the approval process (which takes the most time) while working out the design details.

It may be possible to design your renovation before you close, so that you can be ready to jump into that as soon as you own it.

Smaller projects are faster to design and if you're able to make decisions quickly we can have a plan in a couple of weeks. Larger renovations may require 2-6 weeks to prepare plans.

Definitely get in touch as early in the process as possible.

To get approval

The co-op and city review processes have become onerous in all but the far reaches of the outer boroughs or the rare small co-op.

Plan on a minimum of 2-4 months for the simplest project, and up to a year for more complicated jobs.

If you’re moving to a new apartment, you may need to carry two homes or consider subletting to a renter while awaiting approval of the renovation.

If your home is located within one of the city’s landmarked districts, anticipate increased filing fees and an additional 1-4 months for those approvals, even if you don't plan to alter the exterior of the building.

To build

Smaller projects (a single bathroom, small kitchen, or quickie decorating facelift) will span 2-4 months of active construction. Larger renovations take 4-6 months of active construction, often followed by several additional months of decorating and finishing touches.

During construction, you may need to anticipate relocation and potential storage of furniture. While you may be willing to tough it out with no kitchen, there’s no way to live in a one-bathroom apartment while that room gets renovated. If you are pregnant, have young children or pets, plan on moving out to a dust-free zone.

Renovation 101

Here is a very basic outline of the process and the teams involved, from start to finish. For more information on each item, please consult the Services and Team pages.

  • Initial Consultation (client and designer)
  • Design and drafting (designer)
  • Submittal of alteration package to board – sometimes concurrent (client, project manager, approvals team, managing agent)
  • Review process (building engineer, approvals team)
  • Vetting contractor bids – concurrent (designer and client)
  • Materials and fixture selection– concurrent (designer and client)
  • Approval by board
  • Submit package to Department of Buildings (approvals team)
  • Review process by DOB (approvals team)
  • Approval by DOB
  • Possible review by Landmarks (LPC)
  • Insurances and permits to managing agent (contractor, approvals team)
  • Managing agent grants permission to start
  • Pack up and move out, send rugs to cleaners, belongings to storage
  • Demolition (contractor, designer, project manager)
  • Address any discoveries (designer, client, contractor, project manager)
  • Active construction (designer, client, contractor, project manager)
  • Substantial completion of construction (contractor)
  • Additional finishing touches, install of furnishings (designer, contractor)
  • Inspections – concurrent (contractor, project manager, approvals team)
  • Final close out of permits (contractor, project manager)
  • Final close out of project (managing agent, project manager)
  • Post-construction maintenance (project manager)

Clare tackles every project as if it was her first with a sense of enthusiasm and wonder that is infectious. Her years of experience, coupled with her energy makes a would-be renovation slog into a fun adventure! – Cristina

“You know not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for the amazing guidance you gave me with my house.” – Santos

“An unerring eye for color. We speak reverently of the ‘Clare colors’ that she selected.” – Steve and Blum

“You have been wonderful in providing us advice and really understanding what we needed.” – Lucie

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